Dangerous Compassions


fat queer in a black dress labels cornbread without shame

Hello, reader.  How are you?  I’ve been thinking about shame.  What is shame, and why do we feel it?  Is it ever helpful?

I see people feeling shame who don’t need it.  The shame drains their energy like a hole in a bucket.  Then the people who do great wrongs are not feeling shame.  Hmm–why is that?  Seems switched.

Well, I try to live without shame, and it’s a lot of work.  But  I have to keep trying because shedding shame is what allows me to love.  My body is ok, my choices are good, my words and art help the world, and my love energy shines.  I do a lot with what I’ve been handed.

In a way, it could never be enough.  So much suffering is everywhere, and harm to Parent Earth.  Pollution Is Colonialism is an idea I read recently as the title of a book.  So succinctly true.


But I’ve been blessed with this human birth, and I’m alive right now, doing my best right now.  I can’t do everything, but I can do something.  I’m happy to try.

So there’s something I wanted to tell you.  Your ancestors called–they love you and want you to be happy.  Not necessarily your blood ancestors, but your art ancestors, your trancestors, the spirit of the land where you come from, the spirit of the land where you are right now.

Please consider taking a few deep breaths, feeling your feet on the floor, your ass in the chair, or your whole self pressed into the bed, and listen to my message.  Your ancestors called, left a voicemail, and called again!  They really want to help.  This is what they told me.

message about shame

We worked hard to hand you our gifts, and you’re doing amazing with them.  You use the gifts in ways we never expected, and for that we adore you.

We think of you, a living person, making change in a vibrant way, and we’re grateful to you.

Shame is like a mallet that smacks down your goodness.  Shame is like a poison–please dump the poison in the compost pile and stop swallowing it.  You can give it to us.  We are so strong, here on the other side–we can transform it, like mushrooms cleaned a toxic spill site.  We can take anything you hand us.

As for you, you are more delicate.  We respect that.  Please set shame down–it isn’t yours.

misplaced hate

The people who handed shame to you made a mistake.  They were angry with themselves, death, pain, and their abusers, but didn’t know how to process it.  So they put their hate onto you.

But it was never yours.  You have no responsibility to carry it any longer.  Find a stone to leave shame under, or a river to set it free.  Maybe it will change into a fish and swim to a good place to eat a larva and rest in the mossy shadow.

Shame is a placeholder, for we-know-not-what.  Shame is a distraction, an impediment, like the small boss you have to defeat at the end of a video game level.  Not even a big boss to defeat the game.

Shame is not the main course or a side dish to your meal.  Shame is the little rock that got in with the beans on accident.  Don’t let it break your tooth.  You need that tooth to crunch delicious apples later.


Yes, you have done wrong.  That’s normal.  You had to take the path you took, for the journey you’re on.  Even your mistakes are beautiful.

I’m sorry it hurt, not to be perfect.  But you are perfectly imperfect–perfectly yourself.  I wish you could see yourself as I see you, through these layers of time and dirt and sky.  You glow with how much we love you.

A moment of violence is human.  Choosing to rest instead of work is actually ok.  Selfishness is self-preservation.  We’re glad you made those mistakes–they’re part of what got you here.  We love your mistakes, because they’re part of you.

Please imagine us cheering for you from the other side.  You can think of us as resting in a living room in heaven, smoking cigarettes and drinking iced tea.  Or you can imagine us under the ground in a cool sacred cave.  You could think of us helpful inside of you as part of your cells, or flying around in a sky like angels.

However you imagine us, please know we love you and believe in you.  We accept your projections, your prayers, your adoration, and even your silences.  We don’t think you deserve the punishment of shame.  It’s a pleasure-killer.

Please talk about your shame, set it down, make art about.  Bring it to the light.  Consulting others might take away its power.  You could be free.

Thank you for using the gifts we handed you, and doing what we can’t do anymore.  We love you, we’re proud of you, and we’re here for you always.  When you die, we’ll welcome you home.  Please forgive yourself.


Wow, what do you think of that transmission, reader?  I hope you don’t mind.

I think of my ancestors.  Many are in New Mexico.  They wear aprons, drink tequila, wear sparkly boots, and do things I would never do– hunting, gambling, running marathons, riding horses.  They use different languages, painting styles, drugs.  Queer, straight, beautiful like me, beautiful unlike me.

What I’m trying to say is that shame is a decoy.  You’re surrounded by opportunities for pleasure.  Please don’t let shame poop the party.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

2 replies on “shame”

I don’t talk to, pray to, pray for, or even think about my ancestors very much. This line made me realize this really was a transmission from them to you to me: “You can think of us as resting in a living room in heaven, smoking cigarettes and drinking iced tea.” Thank you for all the beauty you bring to the world. 🙂

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