Sunday, February 22, 2015


An aspect of my journey which I will likley elaborate on is the role that shame plays and has played in my life. To illustrate, I have included the following poem by Vern Rutsala:

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 sickness—diseases 
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. 

Shame and same-sex attraction are so intricately connected that it has been very difficult to separate the two (at least, in my experience). The reason for this lies in the meaning of shame. It is very different from guilt, because while guilt means that you feel that something you did was bad, shame means that you are bad. I don't know if I've met a single person in the LDS SSA community that hasn't struggled with shame in relation to his/her attractions. Being taught that homosexual behavior is an abomination often translates to "I'm an abomination." I certainly believed this for many years. In succeeding posts, I will analyze different areas of my life in which shame rears its ugly head and how it affects me. My hope and goal is that you will be able to reflect and identify how shame is hurting you and hindering your progress.


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