Monday, November 30, 2009

You Wouldn't Like Me If You Knew

I am still today a shame driven creature when the right conditions arise. If in shame, I will tend to extremes to get out. If not in shame but at risk for it, I will tend to similar extremes to avoid it. I don’t care, really where that comes from. It matters that I know it and that there are two streams of practice regarding shame that I can avail in order to live a better life. I can practice towards avoiding known causes of shame, but while this practice is useful and necessary, a better practice is aimed at moving beyond shame into forgiveness and compassion.

I am so filled with the tendency to treat myself better than I may deserve in any condition, that I have often felt doubtful toward such statements as “the first person I need to forgive is myself.” In fact a minor condition of my shame is knowing that I give myself too much of a break. But here again, I must concentrate on the known predicament I am in. My insight is often profound but it is also distorted in ways I cannot see.

I am 64 years old. I have seen much come and go. Nakedness of all kinds is not such a big deal anymore. I have learned the truths of clothing, of walls, of mirrors, of truth telling and of deception, of double lives and disguises, and how to spin the truth into a lie. I am still the victim of this poem if I relax my grip.

A very good friend of mine tells me her code as a runner on the track and in her life, relentless forward movement. You cannot finish the 5k course and more without a vow to relentless forward movement. I agree. In my place in order to transform beyond a shame driven reactive creature living a grief stricken life, I must recognize I swim against a current that changes all apparent straight lines into curves of a backward tendency, that forces me to tack like a sailboat to move forward, that any rest I take will cause me to work harder to catch up later, that if I just tread water for a time, I will be going backward. My life cannot have any straight lines for long because the backflow always curves them. This metaphor goes on and on with useful applications. Relentless forward movement.

It is not grim, it just is.

You Wouldn't Like Me If You Knew

I am sitting blank
trying to say what I know
but it holds me back
even as I am here
willing and I thought, no fear.
You said secrets keep
me sick and I know
how they erupt like boils do
yet shame blankets all.

March 1, 2009 3:04 PM


  1. shame is like a policeman
    but inside the mind

    I like the narrative... very meta reflective and thoughtful... thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always

  2. Damn straight.

    Secrets kill....still, I would like to have some sometimes.


  3. I was taught, Michelle, I can do any damn thing I want so long as I also accept the consequences of any damn thing I want. But I rarely want the consequences. Do you?

    Who taught me that was a convict. He said "If you want to do the crime you better be willing to do the time." He said, "It ain't so bad, three hots and a cot and the pruno too."

  4. My boil erupted :) I feel grossed out saying it, shame, shame, shame.
    It's slowly disappearing now, not so much moving forward maybe, but i dealt with it, it's leaving, hopefully never again.

  5. amen---shame is there for a reason!

  6. There is a level appropriate to everything. Shame is in the system for a reason, but if you are hypersensitive to it, or otherwise deformed around it, then what is for a reason surpasses all reason. Therein lies illness, soul-sickness and it can kill.

    The ability to override, ignore and ultimately heal shame is also there for a reason.

  7. "relentless forward movement". I live here sometimes, never content, always pressing on and up. Christopher, it is rather exhausting. All things in balance. Time to sit still, reflect, embrace what you are now, store up energy for the forward movement which is not always an easy road.

  8. Annie, you are fortunate to live in a part of your world that doesn't fit in my metaphor. I get to scull easy sometimes, when the the river is broad and lazy, or sometimes I even have to portage around obstacles. The issue is this...sobriety is always upstream, never downstream. There is no complete rest for sober drunks like me. The current takes me back to a place I dare not go, and I am simply never more than a half hour max away from that return. The drink is in me, to be found in half an hour or less.

  9. Secrets are kept for reasons yet it's always true that it's meant to be revealed... great!!!:)

    Good day!!!:)


  10. I hope these things can be let go of, eventually. I don't like the thought of you dealing with the aches and pains of passing years, and still holding onto this other kind of hurt. ((((Christopher)))

  11. Rachel, I am posting poems dated last spring here. Maybe someday these poems will catch up, be in some way contemporary. I am not sure that I was not role playing even then. I do not let go of the past in this respect, that it is a resource and tool even.

    I come from the school of therapy that asserts that a dysfunctional tool for survival now may very well have been appropriate at some earlier stage of life and may well be appropriate again. Thus I would never tell someone to get rid of a tool, but instead get more tools and have a tool kit, not be stuck thinking everything's a nail cause all you have is a hammer.

    Sometimes shame is appropriate. Sometimes everything we can feel is appropriate. Yet any vestige of the shame in the poem is not the experience I have today. This is December, not February. Yet I remember what this is. I will not forget. I will deliberately not forget. And I will share it just like this because transparency is the best hope for a guy like me.

    As for the getting older stuff. That just is...I am working hard to find any help I can. There doesn't seem to be that much and it certainly isn't easy. Chiropractic and Homeopathic have been more responsive so far, but turning Kaiser around is like turning an ocean liner around.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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