Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Shame That Bonds

My son Nolan and me in Billings, Montana 
When my friend Amy Ferris asked me to contribute to an anthology about shame, (Dancing at the Shame Prom, Seal Press) I hesitated for a moment and then said “Sure, I’d love to”. Not because I was dying to write about shame… I was NOT! For one thing, I had a 20-year old son who got embarrassed if I said two words to a neighbor in the elevator, how could I write about shame without totally humiliating him?  But I said yes for two reasons. 1) It would be difficult and foolish to say no to Amy because I respect her tremendously and felt so honored that she had asked me, and 2) because I  believe there’s something to be learned in saying yes to something you desperately want to say no to. And I was ashamed of having shame and afraid of having to reveal it which meant there was something to be learned.  And I was right. I learned that writing about shame has the power to free and to bond. It frees the writer from chains and barriers that have kept them hidden and small, and bonds them to other people who share similar shame and may not have the courage or the outlet to talk about it.