Shame is its own country. It has currency, language, customs. Most of its territory is a swamp, and one could get lost there, forever.
I ask myself the questions: why do some people heal, why can’t all, why do we hurt, why do we hurt one another. All the typical how is this human thing possible, and what do I do, now, questions.
I don’t so much come up with an answer as I feel the presence of shame.
I don’t think there is an answer nor cure for it. Not an answer. Not cure. But absorption: there is a rare and necessary way to survive it, but the process is as dark and unspeakable as an alchemist’s prayer. I want to explain it. I want to give it. My heart breaks, often, seeing how others struggle, how beautiful minds and what I think to be plenty strong hearts are trapped in self sabotage. I am prone to anger, anger is easy, whenever I see the unfair and the unfair is everywhere.
I know full well that I cannot save others, but it still baffles me why some of us are able to save ourselves and others aren’t. The best and brightest, the most deserving of us, aren’t. This axis of the globe is crooked. I want to reach out and right it with a flick of my forefinger. I’d do so, gently. I’d mean it in the best way. But half of the power of power is utter weakness and humanity; taking my life and my body for what it’s worth. Not much, not many, not ever strong enough.
Shame is more realistic than faith is. It is more trustworthy. It is more honest about the facts and conditions of our lives. Shame would be appropriate to me at any time of the day, and I lived there for a very long time.
Far away from me, a girlfriend struggles. She isn’t alcoholic, but alcoholics sometimes seem to me to have fewer troubles than others. Our habits and outcomes and necessaries are so obvious. Our way out is relatively easy.
Where is the word for the skin, how it is here and continues a thousand miles from here to a friend, who mistakenly thinks she’s all alone? I listen to her on the phone but half of what she says is dead silence, having nothing more to say. I run my finger around and around a coffeestain on my desk. Then I listen to the crickets and watch the curtain lifted in the window.
I know that skin is holy. I know that hearts are real. But it isn’t enough. Who will love me, people ask, what have I got, what do I do, give me a reason.
I will be here, I can say; I will be waiting for you.
But I know that might very well be a lie.
It is hard to steal away from a country as ruthless as shame. A gulag ringed with barbed wire, stabilized with violence, surrounded by a very cold and icy sea.