Rejected Shame

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I just finished reading a wonderful memoir by Alan Cumming, Not My Father’s Son. In an important part of his story, Cumming’s writes about the first time he masturbated in a clearing in the woods, “I am at peace. I am twelve years old, my jeans are around my ankles, and I’ve just made a big discovery.” He then sees a man at the edge of the forest watching him. He continues, “My heart is suddenly racing and my cheeks are flushed once more. I can feel something rising up inside me. I am instinctively resisting but it is fighting very hard for control of me. It is shame.” He concludes in a way that I love, “I lie there for a while in the dusk, then make a decision, little knowing how it will affect every facet of my life and fiber of my being for the rest of my life: I say no to shame.” Continue reading