Destruction & Ownership & Embarassment

Thursday morning I was taking notes on everything that makes me feel ashamed, up to and including the fact that I was taking notes on everything that makes me feel ashamed. I was doing it at the suggestion of my therapist after a long discussion about where I feel certain emotions in the body, shame chief among them, and the lump it makes me try to swallow, and the hollow it forms under my ribs. I filled a page more quickly than I would care to admit.

Friday evening I was at a journal-burning party with friends, throwing old scraps of high-school era writing into a fire that was much too hot for June. I ripped out the page of Shame Notes and threw it in as well. It was satisfactory and defiant.

Now on this very pleasant Sunday I'm wishing I'd kept it, both to avoid the trouble of re-writing and so I could use it to make art. I'm working on a piece for a group show in September and while it's still nebulous in form, it is going to be about shame. I'm discovering (with no little resistance) that the only real way for me to get a handle on these feelings is to make them into something concrete and public, to say "This belongs to me in this moment, and you can look if you want to."

But of course sitting in front of the fire watching pages bloom into ash, it's easy to believe the idea that whatever you throw in will die with the embers.