There ought to be a reality show ‘Shame on You’ in which contestants compete to out shame each other to see who can be the most publicly racist, sexist, hypocritical, or entitled. We already have enough people doing this for the news, so why not capitalize on it. Americas Top Asshole or something like that.
couch of shame
Everyone has things in their lives they aren’t proud of – the secret shames that I suspect we hold on to mainly because we’ve convinced they are to be hidden from everyone. You don’t talk about things like that unless, of course, there are cameras present. Being caught creates reputations not ruins them.
ring of shame
Shame springs from ‘what others think’ & its prime purpose is to control, as opposed to stop, behaviour that might be disapproved of – I don’t mean things like murder – but stuff like lust, sex, greed. The recent adultery ruckus is about shame &, possibly, people who are addicted to shame & not sex at all. They like the sneaking around more than the getting – that taste of shame.
On the east coast I had a friends who shamed my music tastes – they were ‘hard’core’ blues head John Mayall was king, Blues Magoos were below contempt. Rather than be mocked I caved & went with that flow. Today I like Mayall & enjoy listening to him but its the innocuous Magoos that give me the greater pleasure. I replaced those lost lps -which I suspect are probably worth more on eBay than Mayall – with mp3s. Hearing them a few years ago for the first time in decades I was swept away & pleased.
It wasn’t until I was into my 50’s that I began to shake off sexual shame – all those messages from an anti-pleasure culture that I had never questioned, began to get looked at & nullified. Being queer is difficult enough without accepting cultural baggage without questioning it. As a teen it made suicide tempting (as it still does for gay/trans teens today – suicide seems an approved solution in fact – better suicide than support or education). I put the bottle to my mouth instead of the gun to my head – numbing worked as it kept me alive.
But I did pick up the razor blade – something I don’t talk about often. I was a cutter. I didn’t cut where it could be seen by anyone except myself. It persisted into my recovery for a few years. A habit that become so well ingrained I didn’t even question doing it. One day it dawned on me – I was ashamed of what I was doing to myself – why was I holding on to this? It was for the shame I felt, not for the blood I was drawing.
The scars remain – physical evidence that only I can recognize. Even if I showed you where to look & let you look you wouldn’t see what I know is there. Hidden, but not by shame.
sticky on my fingers
quick to cool
iron on my tongue
red black thin
not enough to feel warmth
enough to know I have cut
not where anyone can see it
I don’t cut for attention
no marks along my arms or wrists
no mesh of scars to explain
to haunt me years later
I don’t remember how it started
was it to see some blood
or a need to make me hurt
a grounding in shame
take that you stupid idiot
teach my body a lesson
teach my heart a song
let that small drip refrain
I wash my hands when I’m done
watch the healing
then forget the ceremony
even for years
before I am compelled once more
to feel my blood
sticky ripe between pale fingers
it smells the same
tastes the same
still comes as eagerly when called
by the blade
as I evoke
a few confirming drops of my self
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Bell Museum in Baddeck in shameless Cape Breton