Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Had to share...

Am currently reading the book "HOMECOMING: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child" by John Bradshaw. I'm about a quarter of the way through so far and, I have to say, this is turning out to be a REALLY good book.

I came upon a poem last night as I was reading that blew me away. Never before have I come across something that so accurately puts into words all that goes on in the mind and spirit of those of us who've grown up in an abusive, dysfunctional family. To me, it was like someone had looked into my soul and expressed in words what they found there. Anyways, I wanted to share it here with all of you now.

**NOTE: Some may find the poem triggering. Also, be aware that the poem contains some very offensive language in a couple parts.**

My Name Is Toxic Shame

I was there at your conception
In the epinephrine of your mother's shame
You felt me in the fluid of your mother's womb
I came upon you before you could speak
Before you understood
Before you had any way of knowing
I came upon you when you were learning to walk
When you were unprotected and exposed
When you were vulnerable and needy
Before you had any boundaries

I came upon you when you were magical
Before you could know I was there
I severed your soul
I pierced you to the core
I brought you feelings of being flawed and defective
I brought you feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt,
    worthlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness
I made you feel different
I told you there was something wrong with you
I soiled your Godlikeness

I existed before conscience
Before guilt
Before morality
I am the master emotion
I am the internal voice that whispers words of condemnation
I am the internal shudder that courses through you without any
    mental preparation

I live in secrecy
In the deep moist banks of darkness
    depression and despair
Always I sneak up on you I catch you off guard I come through
    the back door
Uninvited unwanted
The first to arrive
I was there at the beginning of time
With Father Adam, Mother Eve
Brother Cain
I was at the Tower of Babel the Slaughter of the Innocents

I come from "shameless" caretakers, abandonment, ridicule, abuse
    neglect -- perfectionistic systems
I am empowered by the shocking intensity of a parent's rage
The cruel remarks of siblings
The jeering humiliation of other children
The awkward reflection in the mirrors
The touch that feels icky and frightening
The slap, the pinch, the jerk that ruptures trust
I am intensified by
A racist, sexist culture
The righteous condemnation of religious bigots
The fears and pressures of schooling
The hypocrisy of politicians
The multigenerational shame of dysfunctional
    family systems

I can transform a woman person, a Jewish person, a black person,
a gay person, an oriental person, a precious child into
A bitch, a nigger, a bull dyke, a faggot, a chink, 
a selfish little bastard

I bring a pain that is chronic
A pain that will not go away
I am the hunter that stalks you night and day
Every day everywhere
I have no boundaries
You try to hide from me
But you cannot
Because I live inside of you
I make you feel hopeless
Like there is no way out

My pain is so unbearable that you must pass me on to others
    through control, perfectionism, contempt, criticism, blame,
    envy, judgment, power and rage.
My pain is so intense
You must cover me up with addictions, rigid roles, reenactment,
    and unconscious ego defenses.
My pain is so intense
That you must numb out and no longer feel me.
I convinced you that I am gone -- that I do not exist -- you
    experience absence and emptiness.

I am the core of co-dependency
I am spiritual bankruptcy
The logic of absurdity
The repetition compulsion
I am crime, violence, incest, rape
I am the voracious hole that fuels all addictions
I am insatiability and lust
I am Ahaverus the Wandering Jew, Wagner's Flying Dutchman,
    Dostoyevski's underground man, Kierkegaard's seducer, Goethe's
I twist who you are into what you do and have
I murder your soul and you pass me on for generations



  1. I'm glad I read Homecoming, years ago. There were things I agreed with, and things I didn't. (I was never comfortable with the inner child, but it was a good starting point. And I know that's me. I think it's because my NM uses being childlike sometimes to gain attention.) As I read the poem, I found myself observing that Toxic Shame is also a liar, a very skilled liar. Like the best liars, it mixes truth with its lies, so you have to dissect what's said to figure out what's the truth and what is the lies.

  2. Thanks for sharing. My husband has this on his shelf in the "books to read" pile. It was gifted to him from my dad, who understands well the need to find one's inner child.

  3. Thanks so much for this, I am going to read it. Or I might put it on my Christmas list for my kids to buy! Am looking forward to Christmas this year, as I will be a different person, being on the road to complete unenmeshment and independence from my FOO! xx

  4. I read this poem and thought: "this is what I did to my mother." I know that is not what was meant by it, but I am always trying to remind myself that it isn't my fault that I rattled her world by being born.

    Thank you for sharing this. I'm trying to sort out my foolish step back into trying to have a relationship with my NM in a way that won't make me feel like I am being an immature brat. Your site makes me feel less alone in my struggle.