How David Bowie Helped Me Give Up Shame
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Once again, I find myself sat at my computer, poised to write something from my heart to yours.
And what comes out is not so much a newsletter, but yet another bloody POEM.
(My muse, it seems, has grown rather fond of the lyrical medium of late – maybe it’s all the daffodils wafting about on manicured lawns and in £1 bunches in my local Tesco Express).
Today, the muse was moved to write about GUILT + SHAME after listening to one of my favourite movie soundtracks of all time:
LABYRINTH, starring the late David Bowie (my first ever crush).
Like with most of the films + stories from our childhood, it suddenly dawned on me how much this film has to teach me about life – as you’ll (hopefully) see below…
I’ve heard it said
That Shame is a corridor
That goes into a labyrinth.
(- A labyrinth
That doesn’t even have the glory
Of David Bowie’s
Sexy, lycraed Goblin King
Waiting in a castle
At the end of the maze.)
You’re no bed of roses,
You wake me in the night
To remind me
Of all the things
I forgot to do today
(- Reply to texts, send flowers, save orphans -)
Because I was too busy
Turning down the sheets for Shame:
I made His bed,
Then lay in it.
Some say Shame’s the enemy,
Guilt, His more worthy and necessary
Yet, both of You
Wear me down more and more
Each time you visit;
You starve and near exhaust me
So that I can’t protect the six year old child within
From your violent hostility
Anymore than I can
Prevent my home from being robbed
By a burglar that I invite
To sleep (perchance to dream) in my bed.
Ay, there’s The Rub:
I invite them in, Guilt and Shame,
Because they don’t announce themselves as such
When they knock.
“I am your high expectations, your pride, your self-preservation,”
As I open the door
And usher them into the dining hall
Where a great banquet
Of my many failings and inadequacies
Lies waiting for them to gorge on as they please.
But, not today.
Today, when they knock,
- After I’ve overslept
Having gone to bed
Late because I was binging on takeaway
Instead of opening the door
I peer through the curtains of the first floor,
See Them stood on the step
Cloaked in swaggish malevolence.
I open the window,
Even if I’m hungover
Or have gained ten pounds
Or overcook the eggs
Or he doesn’t call back
Or I don’t get the raise
Or I’m not invited on the hen
Or learn that I can’t have children
Or I land my third parking fine of the month
Or yet another book goes left half-read
Or I’m made redundant
Or fail the test
Or scratch the car
Or am the only single one at the wedding
Or can’t afford the shoes
Or am sat home alone with Saturday Night Blues
Or don’t go to the gym for a month
Or am still living with my parents at thirty-one
Or name-drop to feel cool
Or accidentally dye my boyfriend’s favourite white shirt blue
Or binge on takeaway and Netflix
For no other reason than I just fancy a fix
Or find myself gossiping
Or don't have enough time
To make a poem perfectly rhyme
- I’m not inviting either of You
In to gloat -
Because You ain’t never gonna
Make a bad thing better
(No, you won't).
Then, as They gaze up towards me
Confused and defiant,
I consider how free
My life could be
Where I to ensure
They never made it passed the front door
I open the window wider,
And, standing tall and proud,
I recall the words
Of my favourite childhood heroine:
“Through dangers untold
And hardships unnumbered,
I have fought my way here
To the castle beyond the Goblin City
To take back the child that you have stolen.
For my will is as strong as yours,
And my kingdom is as great...
YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME.”
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by guilt and shame?
How would it feel if you chose not to let guilt and shame define you?
This idea has been a life-changing revelation for me, and ironically, when I manage to choose not to be ruled by guilt and shame, I find I’m far more productive, compassionate and joyful all round (meaning, I end up having less to feel guilt and shame about).
I truly hope you’ll try living this way too – even if it’s just for one day.
Any time you find yourself about to slip into guilt and shame, gently but firmly say to Them:
“No, not today; you have no power over me.”