Keep your shame, I’ve got my own

I’m ashamed of plenty of things in my life, ranging from the trivial to the grave. I’ve written about a lot though by no means all of them here. The state of my apartment. The condition of my teeth. That I can’t overcome my fear of water; that I haven’t found a place of rapprochement with my father. That I can’t grade faster and that my energy is insufficient to change the world even just the little bit that I’d like to. That I couldn’t figure out how to get my sexual harasser to stop or just ignore it and move on. That I didn’t get tenure. That up to the end of her life, my mother was embarrassed by my conversion to Judaism and my career choice. My feelings about those things vary in intensity; periodically, especially at moments of life transition those feelings of shame, never forgotten, become more intense, or when I’m confronted by the consequences of my many incapacities and failures.

One thing Armitagemania has been about for me is letting go of shame. It works because my feelings about Richard Armitage are so unalloyedly positive that when I can mobilize them, they overwhelm everything else. Because the resulting stream of positivity made it possible for me to look at things that pain me severely, like my relationship with work. Because Armitage love lets me tap into every aspect of my energy, and because it helps me realize that human desires are ennobling. It’s okay if I want things, including things that are out of my reach, in fact, precisely things that are out of my reach. Because desire activates the soul. Because I can look at his pictures and love, and look at his work and feel, and think and analyze and recreate a sphere for myself in which all of my faculties — mind, body, spirit — work together and make me creative and let me write.

tumblr_mzomnoya2q1r3pnzio1_500Source: Richard Armitage Confessions

A lot of people, including me, have noted the role that acting out shame and humiliation plays in Armitage’s work, how skillfully he accomplishes this over and over again, as with Mr. Thornton, with Guy of Gisborne, with John Porter, with Thorin Oakenshield. So I submit — one reason that Armitagemania happened to me was to help me address and confront my shame, as I watch Armitage play it out on the screen over and over again, as I watch his characters confront, succumb, surmount this all-too-human feeling. When Armitage rehearses it, I rehearse it and I confront my own feelings, the things that have to stand at the basis of my own humanity and my own creativity, the wounds I have to keep bandaging, the generative fires that I have to keep fueling.

Real art opens up the heart; the actor is the technician of the human condition; Richard Armitage has opened my heart and shed light on my all-too-human condition. Not everything I’ve found in my heart the last four years is beautiful or attractive or even something I like and it’s not something readers have to like, either — but whatever I’ve found there, it’s been unquestionably real and irretrievably mine and I’ve been as honest as it’s safe to be — sometimes more honest than it is safe to be — about it. In the end, I have only the things inside me.

They are me and I am them and we are not ashamed.

~ by Servetus on April 8, 2014.

5 Responses to “Keep your shame, I’ve got my own”

  1. Academia and shame. It’s not just an individual experience. I read an article once that very perceptively talked about how academics are systemically shamed into accepting what should be unacceptable.

    Shame and Armitage. He taps into that emotion so well, but what I think is so appealing is that he plays characters that somehow push through that. This is something I know you’ve talked about a lot. I find John from Sparkhouse infinitely touching. Somehow he manages to push through the shame he feels in order to reach for the love and family he wants. There is so much here.

    Hope you are taking care of yourself 🙂


    • Thanks. I really need to write about Standring soon — a bunch of people have been pushing.

      I’m okay. This has been a really bad week.


  2. I am so glad you are leaving shame behind you. It is so difficult to get rid of, clinging to us long after it should have been dusted off, and always lurking and waiting to magnify our failures or regrets. You have always seemed very brave to me, willing to share your intimate thoughts. I agree you have been ” more honest than it is safe to be”, We all have ” things inside us”, but it takes an exceptionally courageous person to show others what dwells there. May you continue to share your thoughts bravely, beautifully, proudly and shamelessly. In short, you are awesome, babe!


  3. […] My struggle with self-esteem, which I was examining through fantasies about Richard Armitage encounters. I found this really […]


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