I'm going to write a mini-essay on shame here every day for the rest of June to try to teach myself how to make mistakes. That's the first thing to know about shame: it's a lesson, but not a lesson about what happens next. Shame is a stuck time machine and as I yank on the levers ever more furiously, as oily smoke starts to rise from the gears, the present sails majestically, sadly, with great dignity further and further away.
"Lesson" sounds good, and I ought to know, because I'm a teacher, but apparently I don't believe anything I've taught anybody else. Learning is for next time, but the magic of "next time" eludes me because I've already ruined my ability to move through time. I yank on the levers. I bite all the breath out of my words. The air inside the time machine gets worse and worse.