Shame is a master magician
Born of human frailty,
Delicate, self-deluded and eagle-proud.

Shame casts its dreams over the world
Plans each day to be better than the last
And by night falls into restless reverie
Shaming all with steel-plated perfectionism.

The face of shame darkens soft eyes
The feet of shame walk in shadows
Its body bares the weight of trauma.
Its tongue speaks of unworthiness
Spits into the psyche despair
“I suck therefore I am!”
And acts as if it precedes Being.

The tragedy of shame
It wants to be Other that itself
It wears grimly the mask of normality
Desires the crown of exceptionalism
And swims against the current
In pursuit of this radiant, non-existing (excellent) Other

As shame moves through life
Its future is endless repetition,
Disappointments and mistakes freeze failure
In the deep beyond
Speechless in their presence
A drowning skipper
A barren soul
A broken embrace
A certain collapse.

Short on tenderness,
Empty of compassion
Joy abandoned
Attachments weak
Magic worn

Shame comes to therapy reluctantly.
With one hand extended the other withdrawn
Its fingers crossed in fear and disgust
Its need a wound stripped, salted, and double-bound
Its crown of exceptionalism tattered stunningly steadfast.

Shame engages the therapist with small talk
Cryptic conversations darken their way
Calculated statements hold secrets
Traces of desperate truth

Shame presents difficulties, tests, and temptations to the therapist.
A mirror to reflect upon
A stage on which the two can struggle
Shame on shame collapses the two
In an instant of misunderstanding
Shame disappears.

Shame softens within the tenderness of a patient psychotherapy
A beacon whose illumination wanes as the hour passes
Through the mirrored deceptions that distort each word
In the aftermath of all that has been unlearned
Through repetitive movements that seem like a glacial dance
That require more than endurance
A mindset unschooled and undisguised
Painful truths are held and spoken.
In the cradle of these conversations
Deep within the crucible of human frailty
Shame releases shame.
A tear descends
Shame staggers forward
Over the precipice of unworthiness, regret, and resentment
And surrenders to tenderness
That learns empathy for itself.

I write these words as I climb my wall of shame erected by the pain of my faults. I can see from this perch across the wastelands shame’s story retold by my clients and friends.

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Larry Brooks, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
License # PSY 8161

138 N. Brand #300
Glendale, CA 91203
(818) 243-0839


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