Breaking the Silence of Shame: Jacqueline Grace Hayward’s Story

My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was actor, director and drama therapist and teacher of improvisational theater, Jacqueline Grace Hayward.  Jacqueline shared her deeply personal story about shame; its impact on her life, and more importantly, how she has healed herself through creativity and sheer determination..  

Shame is the most primitive of emotions and yet it is rarely spoken aloud. Secrecy, silence and judgement fuel its fires.  Left unspoken, shame can fester over a lifetime creating an inner world of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor or regret.  It frequently leads to feelings of being flawed, bad and disconnected from our most essential being.  

But this is not a story about victimhood. Instead it is a woman’s journey about finding herself amidst feeling disconnected from her own truth and power.

Carol Gilligan said, “Bringing the experiences of women to full light, although in one sense perfectly straightforward, becomes a radical endeavor.”

Jacqueline Grace Hayward is speaking the unspeakable and breaking her silence. She speaks for the silenced and those guarding their secrets. Her story is truly a radical endeavor and an act of courage.

The link to the audio of the show is below.  If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at

After the show aired I received the following from Jacqueline………She would like to share this with you. 

I had an extraordinary, deep experience after I left you. I went into the longest, deepest shame I have ever been in, and cried for hours. Then woke in the night and went back into it again, aching and sobbing. And I felt like a liar for having just said on the radio that I have almost got this shame thing licked! What was new, though, is that I was crying. I have never experienced shame and tears together before, and I felt as if I was simultaneously experiencing shame and grief. 
The open door for the shame was my answer to your question about how/ who I am now. My response was a negative, in a sense: that I still have work to do because I do not yet know that I can have the life I want. I felt such huge self-abandonment in that answer because what is moving through me now, as of last winter, is radically transformative. I let go of a life-long persona of being brave (which in my vocabulary is associated with being strong in the face of difficulty, lack, settling for, doing it all myself, the image of small fists raised…) and am practicing courage instead. Courage is soft, open, connected, receptive, self-loving and self-caring, the image of wide-spread arms. Courage, for me, as a woman who knows how to be strong and knows how to give, is opening into generously receiving, allowing myself to honor my heart’s desire and to invite in the experience of safety and ease. 


The link to the audio of the show is below.  If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at

By Roberta Teller

Listener discretion advised as it includes some sexual content.