My Shame is a Shapeshifter

My shame is a shapeshifter. It changes its form at will to unsuspectingly inject its poison into my brain. It hunts and stalks me with careful precision, lurking in dark places where it can remain undetected. My shame transforms into whatever I think I need, masked as protection as it tempts and lures me into its darkness. It looks like a friend sometimes, offering me comfort and relief. But as soon as I accept it, my shame once again changes form and devours me.

My shame craves the silent darkness. It grows strength there, waiting and watching, and always knowing when to strike. It senses my vulnerabilities and seizes those moments as opportunity to inflict harm. At times its attacks are quite subtle. It slyly lingers nearby sending quiet whispers that seem to slither their way into my brain. Other times it brings an overwhelming force so loud and so heavy that it demands submission and engulfs me in a way that makes me feel unrecognizable. It takes who I truly am and buries it under all that I fear about myself. When I surrender and crumble into its grip, my shame claims victory. It sharpens its knife with a knowing smile, offering a simple solution to dull my pain. Only that solution merely becomes more fuel to a destructive fire already burning inside of me.

My shame does not like you. It feels threatened by you and in turn works to keep me from getting too close to you. It doubts your sincerity, questions your intentions, and urges me to remain quiet and small. When I choose to reach out to you my shame works overtime to reel me back in. When I stumble – when I fall – when I withdraw from you, my shame becomes my only companion. It guides me back into its darkness. Its consistent messages somehow feel safe and reliable when faced with the alternative unpredictability in you. But there is a cost to this perceived safety. The cost is relationship – the cost is true connection – the cost is a sense of belonging anywhere outside of the prison I feel myself trapped in. My shame tries to convince me that its protection is worth the cost. Often times I am persuaded. Yet somewhere inside of me shines hope for another way.

I have learned that my shame has a weakness. Its power wilts and fades away when it is exposed to light. I try to use this weakness to defeat it. I venture into the darkness, searching and digging through all of the crevasses where it hides, tracking its movements and patterns in an attempt to cast a light onto this enemy of mine. But no matter how hard I search and how deep I dig, my shame’s quick and clever maneuvers keep it one step ahead of me. It seems to multiply at every turn, making it harder for me alone to chase. I need an army – an army of light to help me hunt down and destroy my shame. But there is risk with this army. To call upon this army means that I must be willing to let them see all that I wish to keep hidden. My fear is their judgment, which keeps me silently cowering in hiding, clutching onto my shame as a familiar safety blanket. My shame knows this. It depends on this. It thrives in this. The only way to defeat my shame is to call it out by name for my army of light to hear and to allow their presence, their comfort, and their healing light to shine on all of my dark places.

9 thoughts on “My Shame is a Shapeshifter

  1. I used to believe I would never be free of my shame. It was a sticky web, something I couldn’t shake off or wash off or rub off. It simply wouldn’t leave.

    But I discovered, like you, that shining a light on it was the one thing that made a difference. It felt so, so scary, but I started very small (“see this web on my little toe?”). Each success allowed me to grow a little braver, to share a little more with a safe person or two, to shine a light on my ankle and my elbow and, oh my gosh, my face!

    I won’t claim I’m utterly free of shame these days (and anyway, I wouldn’t want to be “shameless” either). But the web no longer has me tight in its grip. I breathe and move more easily. And if I can do it, I’m confident that anyone can.


  2. This is expressive and powerful, I relate so much to what you’ve shared here.

    Shame definitely does lure and hold us tight into darkness, convincing us we are not safe unless we remain hidden with it. How freeing it can be to step into the light with it, and feel shames weight lifting as we are restored to ourselves. But just like you’ve expressed, shame shifts to find another vulnerability.

    You bring such a clarity with your words and art to such a complex issue. Reading this helped me understand shame more clearly. Thank you for sharing. Even though it doesn’t often feel this way, it seems so many of us are in this together. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Writing about shame is definitely not easy. But bringing it out of the darkness and into the light is so important. Brene Brown said it best – “If you put shame in a petri dish it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it cannot survive.”

      Liked by 1 person

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