Unlearning the Shame Culture of the Former Soviet Union
The avoidance of shame is a community obsession, one I haven’t been able to escape even in my thirties.
Since 2020, I’ve belonged to a private Facebook community that’s become something of a support group. It’s one of the few reasons I’m on Facebook at all these days (the others being birthday reminders and gawking at the terrible opinions of people I lost touch with years ago). Created a year into Trump’s presidency, the group is a place where liberal and leftist immigrants from the former Soviet Union can work through their culture-based shame. I can’t remember how I found the group, but I can tell you what keeps me there: the unparalleled hypnotism of seeing what I’d thought were my most idiosyncratic struggles reflected in the experiences of strangers.
Ruth Madievsky's debut novel, All-Night Pharmacy, is forthcoming from Catapult in 2023. She is also the author of a poetry collection, Emergency Brake (Tavern Books, 2016). Her writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Harper's Bazaar, Guernica, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is a founding member of the Cheburashka Collective, a community of women and nonbinary writers whose identity has been shaped by immigration from the Soviet Union to the U.S. Originally from Moldova, she lives in L.A., where she works as an HIV and primary care pharmacist. @ruthmadievsky. www.ruthmadievsky.com
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