How David Bowie Helped Me Give Up Shame

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“Shame + guilt can’t make a bad thing better.” @Persia_Lawson


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:

The invitation.


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,”

They whisper

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

And Netflix,


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,

Lean out

And shout:



Not Today.

Not Tomorrow:


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...




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.”


Persia xx