ninety-nine: constant(s)

as long as i can remember, i have had an ongoing sort of to-do list in my mind. i’m also a list-maker on paper, but the one in my mind is something else. included on it are things i need make up to people. a ledger, of sorts, of debits and credits, that paralyze me with guilt. it is a constant, perpetual, loooooong list, dating back decades, in some cases. i don’t think i could ever get to the end of it.

some people would call this a manifestation of anxiety. i guess it is. but for me, it’s also a manifestation of  shame, of a mind that was constantly trying to anticipate where i could go wrong, and to right it when i inevitably did. if i was stupid enough to make a mistake, i needed to make up for it forever, and i mean for. ever.

when i am stumbling around in the wilderness of shame, as i have been lately, this list is everywhere. a blaring marquee in my mind, in black and white all-caps, with spotlights. projected onto the backs of my eyelids at night. and i hear it everywhere, too, like it’s a script everyone knows, a litany of my wrongness.

i don’t even know who i would be without it, except i’d really like to find out.

**this post was actually written on Jan 12/19 but backdated to the day the word came out**