“I would box up my shame, tie it up tight and shove it somewhere deep at the back of my soul, somewhere in the dark. It would decay there, right?
I wrote that, but, reading it again, I don’t think it was true.
I would repent, accept the forgiveness that was surely there (why couldn’t I feel it?) and bundle up the shame and put it away.
But I would take it out again.
I would open up the lid, I would pull it out and feed it, nurse it, coax it along like a small fire.
Because I couldn’t let it die. I needed it. I needed shame to choke out my tender desires, to hold myself down (accountable) to hold myself back.
I need shame to deflate my ego, to corrode my lust and whip away my fear and desiccate and shrivel my needs: for touch, for praise, for companionship or food or intimacy of any kind. I needed shame.
I call it shame. But you can weaponize it.
You can turn it into contempt.
And I did.
Every failure or flaw or weakness or hunger I saw in myself— every need— I would pry apart. I would dig in and crack it open with my fingers, scrape it up and flood it with contempt. Drown it in scorn and ridicule and shame until I hated it so much I would rip it out, until only a little crater of a scar remained.
I would do it gently.
“You don’t deserve to be upset that they didn’t ask you to come, why would they? You didn’t say you wanted to go, and they’re better friends with each other than they are with you. And that’s normal, they have more in common with each other, they’re fun and loose. You’re so stiff, and you’re not really fun, you’re kind of mean, you’re really mean actually. So they only like you in small doses, that’s fair, you can’t be upset about that. Besides, you don’t want to hang out with them anyway (you don’t have anything in common, they’re loud and kind of coarse, you’re not that brash, you’re more refined), you just wanted to shut your brain off for a little while. You should be doing work anyway, you’re just being lazy. You’re so lazy. This is actually better, you don’t get to be upset, stop being hurt, that’s stupid.”
I would do it gently.
I would also do it harshly.
“You’re such a pervert. Are you going to ogle every fucking guy that walks past you? Stop being such a faggot, God, keep it in your fucking pants. Why are you like this? Why the fuck are you like this, you’re disgusting, get it together. What if someone sees you? What if they catch you trying to eyefuck their forearms, you fucking perv.
You’re a pervert, you little fag. Stop it, stop it, stop doing this. Don’t you dare look again, put your fucking phone down, stop being a whore, keep your eyes on the ground where they fucking belong. What the fuck is wrong with you, stop looking, the hell is wrong with you, why are you like this, you pervert, you fuck.”
I needed the shame. I needed the contempt.
What else was going to keep me in check? What else was going to fix me, what else could I trust, what else could I rely on? How was I supposed to get better if I didn’t get rid of the bad, weak, stupid, perverted parts of me?
How else was I supposed to be a good person. How am I supposed to be good except by hacking, and cutting, and chewing away this gunk, this sin, scraping out, scraping raw, fracking out all the weak and wicked, vile parts of me. Polish off my edges with a little contempt.
I can’t use love, that’s ridiculous (not because I don’t love myself, I do, I love myself too much, look, here’s my arrogance, that’s proof, of love, of loving myself too much). I can’t use love, because love isn’t powerful enough of a scouring agent.
How am I supposed to love away my weaknesses and my mistakes and my flaws and this one gaping, raw, seeping perversion? How is love supposed to compel me to get rid of those things? How is love supposed to motivate me to really make the changes that I have to?
And how could anyone love me if those things are still part of me? If I stay this way.
So let’s use hate instead.
Hate’s a better coach.