You didn’t have to call out my name or even whisper it. Back then. And you knew it. I knew you were there. You had power over me. I felt you hiding. Waiting opportunistically. Then, you kidnapped me. You made me afraid. You made me not trust. I felt trapped. I looked over my shoulder. You made me think others wouldn’t like me, if they really knew me. All of me. You made me feel embarrassed, insecure. You put me on a tight leash. Pulling me this way and that way. I begged to go over there. And over there too. You stopped me. Just short of relationships. The honest, real and genuine kind. You lead me right up next to them, right under my nose, but you made me feel like they were not for me. Only for others. Not someone “like me.” I can’t have it. “Get back. Come here.” You dictated my thoughts. Yank. Tug. My head jerked back and fell down, and begrudgingly I followed your lead. Into the darkness.
Shame. Shame. That’s your name. You spearhead every pity party. The ones that nobody ever gets the invitation for. Or maybe everybody was just too busy. They already had plans, remember? They lied. Nobody chooses to go to a pity party. Ever. They suck the life right out of folks. You are there hosting, always hoping for a better turn-out. You’re accompanied by your best friends: guilt, pain, and anger. You’re at the door waiting anxiously to pull somebody, anybody in.
Shame. Shame. I know your name. I know that horrible, awful, drowning feeling you perpetuate. All too well. I know that you don’t nurture, you don’t feed. You entice. You entrap. You starve others. You slowly kill. You attempt to conquer. You fill others with untruths. Over and over again.
I have gotten to know you, Shame. Too well. Because of an ugly disease. That I didn’t choose. Starting in the hospital, of all places. You lurk in waiting areas hoping to sneak back into rooms. Nurses, care assistants, and doctors have made me feel your presence. On their faces, in their tone of voice. In the midst of excruciating physical pain, you’re always there lurking at the door. By my bed. In the bathroom. Then, I get discharged. You follow me home in my recovering fragile body. Scared to venture out, I feel your tight collar around my neck. I could write a book on the things people have said that keep you, Shame, holding tight onto my leash. My life. Or the things that have happened, emotionally-scarring things. Resulting in more embarrassment, your favorite ally.
I will never forger the time that two male police officers came barging into the women’s bathroom, at a bar, at my sister’s bachelorette party. I was laying on my sister’s lap, on the floor of the handicapped bathroom stall. Feeling just that. I wasn’t high. I wasn’t drunk. I was having problems with my body, my guts, this disease. But I was rudely escorted out of the bar. While my brave sister-warriors fought for my rights, as a human being. As a woman. In a bathroom. I could hardly walk, speak or breathe through the crying. I don’t know how I made it to my van to drive myself home. I felt overwhelming amounts of shame as I drove, sobbing. I barely let my husband hold me that night. Did I even deserve to be loved? You made me feel that. Shame. All consuming Shame.
Shame made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Shame made me feel like I ruin special occasions. Shame made me feel like I should be able to control a disease that has no conscious and acts accordingly. Shame was wrong. As it always is. I didn’t recognize it back then. Years ago. But I’ve changed.
Shame. Shame. I know your name, but you will no longer speak mine. I broke your leash, when you were out looking for your next victim. I grew stronger and smarter as you left me outside. In the cold. You will never have power over me again. My weaknesses have become my strengths. Now, I know where you live. I am not afraid of you anymore. I will tell everyone about you so they will know that you are weak. A coward. You tear others down to strengthen your straw empire. You have no strength of your own. I will fight to make sure nobody else will be stuck outside your back door. Tied up. Made to feel something that they are not. I will not let others hurt, hide or live in your lies. You mask the beautiful. Corrupt the weak. You live in the shadows and you hide from the light. I will expose you. Shame. Shame. You will never call out my name. Again.