by Jo Lawrence-Mills

So little is talked about the painful binding shame that can feel so toxic and all consuming . This poem describes the feelings that so many people know so well and become so bound up in . The greatest way to heal shame is with love and compassion ,  by somehow shining some light on those dark hidden places and finding compassion and love for them it can help ease the pain .


This is the shame of the woman whose hand hides

her smile because her teeth are bad, not the grand

self-hate that leads some to razors or pills

or swan dives off beautiful bridges however

tragic that is.  This is the shame of being yourself,

of being ashamed of where you live and what

your father's paycheck lets you eat and wear.

This is the shame of the fat and the old,

the unbearable blush of acne, the shame of having

no lunch money and pretending you're not hungry.

This is the shame of concealed sicknessdiseases

too expensive to afford that offer only their cold

one-way tickets out.  This is the shame of being ashamed,

the self-disgust of the cheap wine-drunk, the lassitude

that makes junk accumulate, the shame that tells

you there is another way to live but you are

too dumb to find it.  This is the real shame, the damned

shame, the crying shame, the shame that's criminal,

the shame of knowing words like 'glory' are not

in your vocabulary though they litter the Bibles

you're still paying for.  This is the shame of not

knowing how to read and pretending you do.  This is

the shame that makes you afraid to leave your house,

the shame of food stamps at the supermarket when

the clerk shows impatience when you fumble with the change.

This is the shame of dirty underwear, the shame

of pretending your father works in an office

as God intended all men to do.  This is the shame

of asking friends to let you off in front of the one

nice house in the neighborhood and waiting

in shadows until they drive away before walking

to the gloom of your house.  This is the shame

at the end of the mania for owning things, the shame

of no heat in winter, the shame of eating cat food,

the unholy shame of dreaming of a new house and car

and the shame of knowing how cheap such dreams are.

(Rutsala, 2004, p. 5)