How to make a shame box
Go to home depot.
Navigate your way to the timber aisle and look for some wood. Not too big, or not too small, maybe a medium thickness, it’s really up to you. You’re going to want to get this wood cut into 6 pieces to make a box, the dimensions of which are significant numbers to you, such as “the age it started” by “the age it ended,” or “how long you cried about it” by “the number of people who hurt you.”
Find someone to cut the wood for you. Tell them you’re trying to build a wooden box. You’re going to need 4 equally sized pieces, and two smaller squares for the top and bottom. Don’t bother with sketches or exactness, simply try to imagine the object you want to make in your head and say the measurements out loud with a question mark at the end, because surely whoever is cutting the wood should have enough experience to correct you if you’re wrong.
Watch a scruffy blonde 20-year-old operate some large wall-saw-thing and wonder if it’s really safe, and if he’s fucking your shit up already, and if he’s measuring it correctly, but don’t say anything because you’re not cutting the wood and he probably still knows more about wood cutting than you, even if he did fuck up a couple of pieces.
Go to the paint department and wander aimlessly down a couple of aisles, hoping you can find what you’re looking for without having to ask for help. Everyone hates asking for help. You’re looking for a color that accurately depicts the color of your shame. Most often a matte black will do, but you might be eccentric or vivid and need a hot pink or crimson. Your shame, your color.
Be unfortunately tasked with having to interrupt the awkward employees of the paint department, who were just diving into a conversation about how the government is watching their Netflix activity, to ask for the specific color you are looking for, or something close to it. Don’t be a dick about picking the color, no one likes a color dick. Thank them, walk away slowly enough to see if you can figure out why they think the government is spying on their Netflix account (but you won’t be able to).
Stare at the wood glues for approximately 1 minute, trying to find one that is both cheap but seems effective. You’ll see Elmer’s, your cheap childhood trusted brand. It’ll probably work fine.
Treat yourself to self-check out.
Go home, proud of yourself that you’re going to confront a really horrible thing from your past.
Leave all the items in a bag on the floor for at least 2 days.
At some point you’ll start to feel guilty about buying the stuff but not actually using it. This is how you know it’s time to begin painting.
However, before you start painting, you’ll want to hold up the boards to see if they all fit together according to your mental estimations. Of course, they do not, as you were never good at math and only an idiot or a seasoned professional would attempt to build something without sketching it first. Remember to accept all flaws as fate, and resolve to work within those flaws to create something anyway. Like if you have to have a half inch lip hanging off each side, convince yourself that actually this makes the object immensely more interesting, and hey, it also proves that there is, in fact, something going on inside.
Line the floor with plastic bags and lay down your boards for painting. Light a candle and listen to some soothing jazz while you do this. Even if you remember to buy a paint brush it probably won’t be the right size because the last time you painted something was never, so you’ll have to go into your dad’s “tool closet” (if you still live with your parents) and find a suitable brush.
Paint one coat, let it dry over night. Then add another coat, and let it dry all day. Fuck it, add a 3rd coat; things are really taking off now.
Let it dry for an extra day, just to be safe.
Flip the boards. Oh fuck, but cool, the paint kind of dripped off the sides and onto the back of the board, which wasn’t the plan, but you guess now it’s gonna look really cool. Remember the rule: accept all flaws as fate.
Now you got to let that side dry, because it’s a tiny bit damp and you don’t want paint getting all over your workspace.
Wait 3 days, just to be safe.
The boards have started to haunt you. You have this image in your head of a beautiful finished hanging-lip box, but six colored squares sitting in front of you. You’ve got to get to there from here, and doing’s the only way, so now it’s time to set the mood for your shame.
Getting ready to expose your shame takes as much care as getting ready to make love to your lover, so you’ll want to take the same considerations:
What are you wearing? Is it comfortable? Is it something that will let you express your shame in a unself-conscious way?
Put on some music. It should be something moody, something that will get your mood dark enough to confront your shame. Radiohead is spectacular, something like “4 minute warning” or “codex” should have you primed to slit your wrists, metaphorically speaking of course.
Make sure the lighting is dark enough so that you don’t feel exposed, but light enough that you can at least see your hand move across the wood.
Begin to churn the emotion out of you. Maybe bend over and jerk your abdomen in and out like you’re going to puke, and then sway a little bit like you’re a creepy willow tree about to be uprooted unto a dry riverbed.
Maybe curl up on the floor in a little ball and have a preemptive cry, or at least a preemptive ugly cry face. Oh it’s about to be so sad and scary, confronting your shame.
Then sit at a desk, with a candle burning, and the lights low, and Thom Yorke wailing god knows what at you, and you are feeling very sad, and very scared, and prepare to write your shame across those painted wood boards and…
Where the fuck is your pen? The pen is very important, did you forget it? Where did you put it? You need that fucking pen, who took your fucking pen? You can’t write this without that pen, no other pen will do, who in their right fucking mind would take your pen without asking? The gall of this fucking maniac. You should track them down, you should wrap your hands around their neck and tell them how they ruined your night, ruined your life, how you were about to exorcise a demon but now all that shame and fear and sadness has rushed into the neighboring room like the DJ is playing their favorite song called “I’m angry as fuck and isn’t this familiar.” And comforting and empowering. Yes! Anger. You two always seem to play well together.
Call a friend. If you are lucky, you can call a friend who’s also a lover who loves you despite all your flaws and might be skilled at talking you down from destructive emotion rave parties. If you are extremely lucky, blessed, one might even say, if it hadn’t been bastardized by internet culture and white girls holding Starbucks cups, if you are so fortunate to have a friend and a lover who actually tries to pull you out of this mood, because, perhaps you’re not ready to hear it now, but not being able to find a pen really isn’t a reason to choke someone to death, don’t let them do it. They might even try to sympathize with you, because face it, they’re a saint, but frankly, who the fuck needs a saint right now when your pen is still missing and you’ve got cathartic shame blue balls? Let them finish their speech, then decide that you should just go to bed before you burn your house down.
Wake up. That was crazy last night, wasn’t it? At least now you’ve learned an important lesson: don’t start emotional work without checking your supplies first. Tell your friend/lover that you understand the error of your ways, but maybe instead of them being so saintly all the time they could just sit with a sinner every now and again. Start a chain reaction of misunderstandings and unfortunate disclosures that results in your getting in a big fight with your friend/lover. Cry and sob on the phone, but also kind of revel in the catharsis of it all, like “oh hey feelings I guess we’re clearing out all the secrets this week, huh?” So be it. Go to sleep.
Wake up. Don’t even fucking think of those painted boards just waiting for your confession, because your sinuses are now clogged and the gray clouds are looming, and you’ve fallen out with your friend/lover. Fuck. What a shitty day. Grovel to win back the favor of your lover. Write a letter, consider staining it with your tears. Wring your heart out like a dirty rag, leave everything on the page. Don’t have pride, this is not the time for pride. This is the time for the humblest of pleas, imagine your spirit draging a tin can along the metallic bars of your cold and broken heart and write the song your spirit would sing. After your write your letter, and take pictures and send it to your lover (because sending actual mail would be impractical, but it’s the thought that counts), make yourself a deep soaking bath and put on some sad music. Surprisingly, that playlist you made earlier this week is quite suitable for your mood, and mournfully wail 4-Minute Warning while watching water ripple around your knee caps. It’ll help. Your day is fucked, but maybe try to make the best of it anyway, because it’s probably Friday, or close to it, and you made plans, and flaking would be nice but maybe some socialization would do you good, get your mind off all the things currently not right in your life. You’ll probably end up at someone’s house, and someone there will probably be sick, because face it, sick people are everywhere, but you probably won’t even notice because you’ll probably just be trying to make the best of it. You’ll find a kind soul who’ll offer to share their jay with you and you’ll take some blissful puffs standing outside trying to get high enough where nothing really bothers you. You’ll end up fairly fucked up, sleep on your best friend’s couch sending pics of your tits to your lover. You tried.
Wake up at 5am. You’re hot and sweaty, pretty sure your best friend leaves her heat on hell. Gather your shit and drive home. Sleep for another 4 hours, then consider that the sun is shining and maybe some air will do you good. Make a decidedly more upbeat playlist, but not too aggressively so, because you’re coming out of this but fuck, go easy. It should be some slightly egoic but also peppy shit, like Rihanna’s “Consideration” sweeping up to Jamie XX’s “Gosh.” Go for a run. It’ll be a decent run but also wipe you out, because you haven’t run in months, and it’s Saturday and you don’t have shit else to do besides think about the bad choices you’ve made over the past few days, and your body will start to feel slightly achy and you’ll feel desperate for your lover to reassure you that you haven’t ruined everything, that they still love you, so you’ll stare at their face on the screen and navigate a conversation that at times feels pleasantly normal and other times like you’re navigating a minefield of your own neurosis. What would Woody Allen do? Don’t answer that. Just try your best to do the opposite.
It’s Sunday. You feel achy, is it hot in here? All your problems are lined up like hungry orphans in a cafeteria line, you’re taking attendance and the population is overwhelmingly negative. “I don’t feel good,” you tell your lover’s placid face on your phone screen. “I don’t know if I should fight this, or lean into it.” You lean. Pick a spot on the couch and a movie on TV, or some vapid reality show where all the cast members are at least 30% silicone or inorganic materials. Nap with reckless abandon, relish this sick day physically and mentally, let your problems have long circular group therapy sessions where everyone cries and nothing gets fixed. Truth be told, you’re sick, but not that sick. You could probably power through, but why bother? It’s been a shitty week.
You’re sick all the same the next day, maybe a little worst, because now it legitimately feels like a fever and that achy feeling goes beyond the normal discomfort of post-run ailments. So it’s more deep couch sitting, more movies on TV, you finally fish out a thermometer and feel both validated and depressed at the results. Oh, feel sorry for me, world. I am sick and sad. Condolences welcome.
This sickness settles into your sinuses, you’re coughing and congested, you look horrible, you feel worse. It occurs to you that you may have awoken a demon, might be possessed. After all, here you were trying to dredge your shame, but got derailed into physical and emotional catastrophe… typical demon move.
So you say fuck that shame box. Fuck it’s uneven edges, fuck that pen that can’t be found, fuck those memories that haunt you, fuck the shame you carried, fuck that demon, fuck the illness. Fuck atoning for a past that you may or may not be responsible for, but either way, you tried to atone and maybe this sickness is your atonement. Accept what happened, accept your role in it, and accept your forgiveness. Most importantly: accept all flaws as fate.
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