i searched for the definition of this word, coz i like to see if how i understand it is how others do. (also i like to compare canadian and british definitions, just coz.) (canadian ones are far superior of course.)
the most common definition is about showing care or conscientiousness to one’s duties, and is the one i had in mind. but the one definition i encountered that hit me square in the solar plexus is that being diligent means that you are earnest, and try to do everything right. hello, welcome to my life (and my recovery from trauma).
probably every school report card from kindergarten to high school called me a diligent student, and i was, and i am, a hard worker. it matters a great deal to me for me to be careful in word, and in deed, and throughout my life – including as recently as last week, in a work evaluation – people comment on it.
coz it’s true, painfully so. i work so hard, all the time, to know what the right thing is for all the people around me, all the situations around me. for me, showing love includes knowing what to do, what to say, how to be present. getting it right, hitting the mark, is what drives me, is what i strive for.
and so, when i miss? dear god.
my worst shame, the very very darkest and scariest thing that it says, is that i won’t get it right, not ever. that i can’t, no matter what. that i won’t, because i’m too selfish and stupid, because i could never, because there is something just so wrong about me that i would never even be able to know. and that this core inadequacy is unforgivable. that i will drive everyone away and be alone, as people as disappointing as me deserve to be.
my hands shook typing that, all of the truths of my shame. the truth about me, the truth about diligence: that i can try all i want, but it doesn’t matter.
all of it served to me in my mother’s voice, with her the mist of her hissing spitting s’s landing all over my face.