We played a game when I was young
where a handfull of spoons was fetched from the kitchen and placed loose in a pile on the table,
always one fewer than the players gathered ’round.
Like in musical chairs, we would dive to grab a one with a certain turn of hand,
and the one who came up short without a spoon
had to traipse around the table saying “I am slow,”
while the grownups laughed and thought it cute,
and my grandma snickered we had to say it like a donkey
and sometimes the same child would do the circle of shame
again and again until the laughter sounded mean.
The loser wasn’t me but I ached that it was so and wished that everything came with more spoons.
On the day I came unfixed too far I wished that life came with more words
because I couldn’t grab onto a single one when the shoes came flying.
I went slow like a donkey and couldn’t say the things.
So I want to say them now.
For anyone who needs a spoon:
Please knock on the door of my room or call me to the table
and show me your face.
My heart needs these words like air right now:
“hey, sounds like today was hard for you. Can we talk about it?
I heard you spoke with Mrs. King.
Did you find the words to say what you meant?
How do you feel about it now? Confused?
Let’s try and sort it out together. Because sometimes things are bigger than the both of us.
I just want you to know that you’re my girl
and I’m here for you.
Life can get confusing;
we’ll get through this tangle together.
I hit you with the shoes?
That must’ve hurt. I didn’t mean to hurt you;
didn’t even see you there.
I felt frustrated because the shoes were in the living room where I’ve asked you not to leave them.
They don’t belong there.
But you….you belong. Always.
Come to the table and let’s love each other through this.”
Oh please say it so my heart can hear.
I want your eyes to touch me kind
and tell me I’m not horrid.
I cried because I was scared that I was a girl without a spoon.
So deeply, crushingly sad about all these
I want to know, need to feel
that I matter more than my shoes,
matter more than a win or a smart retort,
more even than the cookies I make or how pretty I sing or
how fast the spin on my serve.
Please say it now
because I’m caught in a current and my soft heart puddles blood
and will begin to crust over hard
and it will take long for me to gather the words I couldn’t say.
Because they’re feeling words,
because this conversation we’re not having feels obscene,
and we don’t go on about ugly feelings;
when we’re this uncomfortable, we simply don’t talk about it
all the harder.
But do you see that how hard we aren’t talking about this is breaking me apart?
God, that I could have knocked on your door
and said, “I need your questions. Ask me gentle please.
Help me unravel this tangle we’re in.
Because this knot so tight has me unraveling inside
and this split between us is going to become what I do.
Please don’t teach me to run away;
show me there’s a way to be true to myself and stay.
Hold space for us all in this muddy and gray?
You say that I’m rebellious;
I call it broken-hearted.
You think I don’t care but I care too hard that
the way my name sounds in your mouth has changed,
how it comes out tight as if you’re cursing.
The shame in me and the shame in you makes the air somehow too hot
to stay inside my skin.
But I need you, Dad, need the way you soften things around here.
The way you sometimes lighten up the heavy in the house.
Will you stop figuring for a minute, put down your pencil and turn around
and see me?
I need you to see me right now.
See the answers to the questions you’re not asking.
Please don’t let my first break-up be with you.
But you will not come
and I will move on to decide
that you can lose love fast,
that family can easily be torn,
will decide how unsafe to belong anywhere,
to always linger near the door
and never ever go all in because I don’t have that special thing,
that secret sauce that feels like worth,
the whatever kind of magic that it takes to be seen and sought.
Oh I’ll find other tables
and hustle hard for my seat
but for decades with an empty-belly ache.
This will be the wound you hand me,
as a wise one says all parents do,
and I will unknowingly wound my own and grieve this, too,
But I will take this wound and discover the gift wrapped alongside,
will come to wildly value words and learn to string them together strong,
to rearrange and cobble and twirl them like glass until they catch the light
and make new ones if I must and work long to place them meaningful
and get sick sometimes to my stomach because I fear being
caught without the right ones.
Words will be both fences and freedom to me.
And I will leave our fundamental way
and learn to find and see truth in every nuance and shade;
no, I won’t think only in black and white long
but will know that truth is something to fight to discover,
that suspending judgement is worth every screech of the brakes,
that not knowing is sometimes the only honest place to park.
That becoming A Liar will stir me to look for what’s true
and in loving truth I will come to better love you.
I will see that you were both young and scared and doing your best in
a shitstorm of shame that shook you
beyond your capacity to sit with me in it.
If you’d been given better, if you’d known a different way,
you’d have done different, I know, because you loved me strong.
I will see your humanity in all of it’s fragile and terrible beauty
and this, too, will be gift to me.
I will never hold you again to a pedestal but will love you instead
and this is treasure when you’re received real instead of as an ideal.
I will know you were trying to give me the best of your love.
“Shame derives it’s power from being unspeakable.
That’s why it loves perfectionists – it’s so easy to keep us quiet.
If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak it, we basically cut it off at the knees.
Shame hates having words wrapped around it.
If we speak shame, it begins to wither.
Just as exposure to light was deadly for gremlins, language and story
bring light to shame and destroy it.”
– Brene’ Brown
“My gift is my song and this one’s for you.”
– Elton John
This post 5th in a series and, yes, long!
Thanks for wading through all of these words;
quicker reads to follow:)