Dear Shame

Andrew Chen (text)

Lisa Chen (graphics)

Dear Shame,

When I make a resolution for the new year, you remind me of all the times I have failed to keep up before. You tell me that nothing is new about me, or this year, and that I won’t be making it to the gym like I want to, or getting into the school I have always wanted to. You tell me I won’t make the team before tryouts even start. You tell me I am going to fail, so I don't even bother trying anymore.

You define me by everything I have done wrong in my past, and never let me forget the things I regret. You tell me that I do not belong here. You drive me away from the people I want to be with. You tell me that I am an embarrassment. You tell me I will never be good enough. You fill me with self-doubt.

You are toxic. You were always pouring yourself into my heart, but for some reason, it never felt full. You always told me that my worth would be determined by what I do, and all of the mistakes I make. My worth has nothing to do with my success. You make it so hard for me to forgive myself when I do something wrong. I’ve spent long enough under your cloud of misery. And I know this isn’t the first time we’ve had this conversation.

I have always clung to you for security — a guarantee that I would always be the first to punish myself. I clung to you when I was getting dressed for the gym, and looking at my body in the mirror, telling myself people would look down on me, and that I shouldn't go. I clung to you when I was so nervous to submit my application to my dream school, and I let you convince me not to send it in. I clung to you when I made the volleyball team, so I could avoid facing my coach, or my teammates when I missed a receive. I clung to you so strongly all those times. But what good did you ever bring me?

You have hurt me. You have broken me, countless times. You have held me back for long enough. I do not want to be in a relationship with you anymore. I know I have tried to break this off so many times, and I know that I am the one that always comes back to you. But right now, I need you to know, I really am done with you. I don’t need you, and I don't want you.

I am breaking up with you.

I know that I have not been perfect, and I will not be perfect. But I am working to perfect the art of learning from my past mistakes, without you. I wish I could say my last goodbye to the stinging pressure of your toxic chains on me, but I know that I will inevitably see you again at some point. Instead, I am telling you now that I know in my heart, my failures do not define me, and you, Shame, do not control me.



Haru Sukegawa

a thing about Lisa