This poem was inspired by Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I was initially scared to post a poem like this because it showcases something that is culturally perceived as uncomfortable and avoidable. So, all the more reason to post. I want to lean into my vulnberability and have the courage to share my creative voice over …. and over again. 

 

In my kitchen

this morning

I found myself

weighing out

and measuring,

mixing

and flipping and stirring

 

shame

and

guilt.

 

(All thanks

to

Brene Brown

and my sweet

inquisitive heart.)

 

I began to knead,

my hands

and knuckles

working the dough

in question,

a cloud

of powdered sugar

tasting

of salt.

 

In my heart’s recipe

I find

Guilt noted in italics:

“I did something bad.”

 

What of shame?

 

There, in the ingredient list,

bold black print:

Shame.

“I am bad.”

 

As a child,

I was sent

to sit on the stairs

in the back of the house

as punishment

 

over

and

over

again.

 

The steps were encased

by the wooden poles

of the bannister,

the paint

ever-peeling;

if you peered through,

craning your neck,

you could see

your forgotten joy

in the other room.

 

I was told

 

I was naughty.

 

Am I still

on those stairs,

feeling naughty,

peering

seeking

searching

for my forgotten joy?

 

My hands,

sticky

from the remnants

of their work

in my kitchen,

turn upward,

palms quivering

tips shaking

fingers curling

into soft

fists.

 

I wrap them

to my chest,

the residue

of shame

smearing my clothes

 

but not staining.

 

“You.”

I whisper to my heart,

beneath the mess in my hands.

“You,”

I whisper

“are worthy of love.”

 

 

 

This poem was inspired by Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. In it, she writes: 

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

Shame is something we all experience…To feel shame is to be human.

Shame loses power when it is spoken.

Children who use more shame self-talk (I am bad) versus guilt self-talk (I did something bad) struggle mightily with issues of self-worth and self-loathing.

And if we all have shame, the good news is that we’re all capable of developing shame-resilience…to develop more courage, compassion, and connection as a result of our experience…The less we talk about shame, the more we have it.

Thank you Brene. Check out her work here. 

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