A Poem on Toxic Shame: The Invisible Maze

Marlena Tillhon MSc
3 min readApr 29, 2023
Photo by Christopher Windus on Unsplash

We are born inherently worthy.

Our worth is innate.

Then we forget that.

With every bad word.

Every mean look.

Every unkind touch.

With a brain too young to defend itself, we make it mean that we are bad.

And so, toxic shame is born.

As we grow, so does our toxic shame.

We now mould our experiences into it.

We feed it and reinforce it.

And so, it becomes this self-protecting prison of shame, insecurity, fear and doubt.

We play small or hide away so no one can see how truly flawed we are.

We try to change and perfect ourselves so that the real us never has to be seen and experience the pain of external shaming.

We already have enough of that going on on the inside.

But there is also this part of us that craves to be seen.

That knows it’s meant for more.

That hopes that it is worthy after all.

If only one person could see it, that would be enough, wouldn’t it?

So now we’re on the hunt for that one person.

And thus codependency is born.

One misunderstanding after another.

One last attempt to gain what we were deprived of as children.

And we fail.

Again and again.

What we don’t realise is that we attract what we feel worthy of.

So this other person somewhere out there will always be a perfect match for the sense of unworthiness we carry inside.

Maybe they are exactly like us.

Maybe they are the opposite to us.

In any case, they cannot heal the wound they didn’t cause.

Even if they were perfect.

Because the journey to reclaiming your worth is one you have to take on your own.

Only you can do it.

Only you can find it.

You are The One.

But as long as you look outside of yourself for something that needs to be found on the inside, you will never see it.

So stop.

Look within yourself.

Tend to yourself.

Meet yourself.

Don’t be afraid of what you are going to find.

The lie of toxic shame is a great one.

It is a maze you need to realise that you’re trapped in so that you can escape it.

But that maze is invisible.

The very thing you need to do is the very thing you’ve been avoiding all your life.

You’re afraid of what you’ll find so you’re not looking.

But what you’d find if you were to look is not what you fear you’ll find.

You won’t discover that you’re this horrible person.

Flawed to the core.

You will discover that all your life you’ve been believing lies.

And that is a delicate pain in its own right.

Don’t turn away from it.

Don’t fear that pain.

Feel it and walk through with your head held high.

Because you’re walking straight out of the maze.

You’re taking your power out with you.

The lie of toxic shame will then begin to fall apart in on itself.

Because that’s what happens to lies that aren’t built on a grain of truth.

You were never flawed.

And you were never bad.

You just thought you were.

And that created the thought-based monster of toxic shame.

No more true or real than the monster under a five-year-olds bed.

The nightmare that kills so many dreams.

The void that destroys spirits and souls.

The lie that stops us from living our truth.

The truth of being worthy.

The truth of being magnificently human.

The truth of being gifted and powerful beyond your wildest dreams.

Toxic shame is the biggest hurdle to overcome.

It is the hurdle most never manage to cross.

The fear is too strong.

The shame too sticky.

And so we hide and lose our lives, our energy, our dreams to a lie and an invisible maze.

Until we wake up.

Find me on Instagram as @lovewithclarity and message me

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Marlena Tillhon MSc

Epic Love Relationships & Aligned Partner Choices through Inner Healing & Self-Mastery - follow me on IG @lovewithclarity and visit me on www.epiclove.me