one hundred & seventy two: pride

this word actually reminded me of the endless lectures we got as kids, usually regarding doing our ‘jobs.’ we often got accused of having a lack of pride if we didn’t delight in our 500 chores (washing/drying/putting away dishes after every meal, vacuuming the entire house, dusting, scrubbing toilets and sinks, washing the floor, wiping mirrors, putting laundry out onto the line, taking it off, folding it), or if we didn’t do them up to their standards.

in particular, it makes me think about one of my dad’s most regular speeches about how our family was a team, and as team members, we all needed to do our part, we all needed to contribute, they worked so hard to provide all these things for us, how our laziness, lack of enthusiasm and pride in our chores was an insult to them, was proof of how we were ungrateful, selfish, spoiled kids. i can hear the pseudo-patient, long-suffering tone of his voice even now, and i simultaneously roll my eyes outwardly, while i feel my insides shrinking up.

the one persistent, childish fuck you for my apparent lack of pride was one i maintained as long as i lived in their house: i kept my room a a total mess. and even now, i tend to be more messy than tidy, and it is yet another example of the way they have a hold on me, even still. my doing the opposite of what they would do just shows how much control i continue to let them have. it’s ridiculous. insta-shame.

*

my parents were incredibly stingy with praise and in being proud of us. they were proud of us to other people, but rarely in earshot. they bragged about our accomplishments to their friends (as reflections on themselves as excellent parents, mostly) but were very intentional about keeping our sense of pride in ourselves miniscule. we learned that ‘getting a big head’ was one of the worst things that could happen, and any sense of self-confidence was evidence of this. compliments or praise that we shared with them, from teachers or our friends’ parents, were considered highly suspicious, and their intentions were always questioned: ‘what are they playing at?’ and ‘hmm, they’re probably just buttering you up because dad teaches their son.’ compliments paid to us when they were present were quickly batted away: ‘oh you don’t know what she’s usually like at home’ or ‘oh but you should see the state of her room’ and ‘we just wish his math grades would reflect that!’

i don’t know why they were like this. i don’t know why some pride was sanctioned but others wasn’t. i don’t know what they thought would happen if we were proud of ourselves, or if they showed that they were proud of us. we would like ourselves? we would be comfortable in our own skin? we would get better than them?

(though honestly, isn’t that the fucking goal of it all?! i think so. i desperately want our daughter to be better than us, to struggle less, to achieve more, to be happy, to be satisfied, to be loved, to be safe. i want her to be okay. i want her to be as big as she wants to be, to take up as much space as she needs, to chase whatever dreams she has, to have the hugest expanse of what is possible for her lying ahead. why would i want to curb that? why would i want her to pack herself away?)

i don’t get any of it. yet i get all of it, very intimately, because i live with its effects, every minute of my life.

one hundred & seventy: goals

i am a huge list maker. like actually, on paper or on my phone, but also virtually, like in my head. a constant tally of the things i need to do, of both the banal and extremely life-altering variety.

my main goal in life used to be to be completely amazing, to be the top of my class, to win awards and accolades, to be the best. cream of the crop and all that shit.

my goal these days is to simply be enough: a good enough mom. an acceptable wife. a decent friend. i don’t need to win any awards, i just want to meet expectations and not fall short too too often. i just want to not fuck it all up.

*

i’m adding an addendum to this post (it’s the next day). i’ve had a royal shitpile of a day, and part of the reason is because i was waaaaaay too lighthearted about this word, and it’s been eating at me.

coz really, the word, and my memories surrounding it, made me feel a bit sick.

my goals have always been driven by a need to make up for the fact that i am an entirely disappointing human being. my lists are usually reminders of the variety of ways i need to compensate for this fact. i am not easygoing at all about my lists and my goals; that said, it would be impossible to check all the boxes on my lists because they are entirely outlandish, unrealistic, and inherently punitive.

when i was younger, my goals were very much about how to improve myself physically. when i was 11 and 12 and 13, for example, i made sure i did a bunch of sit-ups and leg lifts before bed, because i was sure i was horrifically revolting (i wasn’t) and that i needed to counterbalance my affinity for junk food. i dieted constantly, as i saw my mom do. i felt gross and ashamed about eating, my body, and food. although my body was strong, athletic, and lean, and helped me to excel in team and individual sports, what i saw in the mirror was totally different.

a lot of my goals were to excel at things, so i would impress someone, often a teacher (ugh, i am flushing with shame to write this). i wanted to be excellent because it felt good, yes, but also because i wanted desperately to be special. to be attended to. to be acknowledged. to be seen.

*

one of my main goals in therapy is to stop the cycle of violence…the intergenerational trauma…the perpetuating of shame. i can’t bear the thought of passing it on to my daughter, and having her pass it on to her own children. it’s kinda like, the buck stops here, fuckers.

but right now, i am suffering so much. that sounds dramatic but i’m not sure there’s a better way to put it. lately, it feels like i might drown under the weight of all the work i have yet to do. i described it to my therapist today, that it’s like being in a dark room, and someone opens the door a crack, casting a thin slice of light inwards. and when i look around me, that crack of light illuminates huge, teetering piles and collections of stuff, representing the ways that the hurts of my childhood continue to affect my present life. representing the ways in which i have internalized my parents’ voices, the ways in which i carry them with me, the ways i am complicit with shame and the ways in which i allow it to control my life.

lately, it’s all just been so, so hard. triggers in every direction, body afire, brain lit up like hundreds of landing strips for an endless stream of incoming planes. it feels absolutely impossible, feeling sure i had made progress, and then to have the door swing open to reveal towers of additional shit, boxes and boxes of stuff, piled in every corner…you can bet i’ve run out of the room, slammed the door and latched it tight, but it’s too late, i’ve seen it, i know it’s there. i know how much more there is to sort through.

and i’m not sure i can do it…i’m really not sure i can bear any of it for much longer. i’m so exhausted i can’t even cry. i can’t make goals. i can’t think of the future. i can basically hold on, moment by moment.

please tell me this isn’t all there is.

Shame (168)

This word is a huge one in both of our lives, and seriously, how are we even meant to come close to doing this word justice given the hold it has over us? One blog post can’t ever even begin to describe the fucking constant presence of shame. How it sits back and quietly tuts at you so that you think you have enough of a hold over it to not let it impact your life, until it eggs itself on until its completely screaming in your ears, and you can no longer hear/see/think straight.

***

The image that comes to my mind when I think of shame is of a fire…sometimes controlled, a medium burn, easy(ish) to handle. Sometimes that dies down, its just embers, still hot, but not in your face, not painful…and then all of a sudden without any warning it’s fed some fuel and it’s roaring, burning you, engulfing everything around you. If anything is volatile (yesterdays word), it’s shame. Shame can go from nothing to everything in a millisecond.

***

Last summer shame was being particularly noisy one day, and pocketcanadian suggested that I write out everything I was ashamed of, and for once I did. I’ve got a word document here titled ‘all the shame’. It’s not short, 3 pages long, full of things that I was ashamed of. Some of them feel less real reading them tonight (though I know they were incredibly real to me back then), and some of them still ring true. And, as ever there are more that come to mind. It’s an ever changing (and probably expanding) list.

Here’s one that still has a massive hold over me because the personal belief underlying it is one that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake:

  • That I’m too much. Too needy, too incessant, too annoying, want too much, ask for too much, am too emotional, take too much away from other people.

And here are a couple that I wrote that still make me feel physically sick:

  • That it was my fault because he was just a kid, a victim, and if he’s so young and innocent I should have been able to stop him.
  • That he was just a kid so it can’t have been bad. That it’s different to abuse by an adult, that I’m lucky and should shut up. That I’m being disrespectful to people that were actually abused.

***

If/when PC writes about this one, I think she’ll probably talk about the shame spiral…about how once your ashamed and then trying to let somebody in you start getting ashamed about being ashamed in the first place. I’m nowhere near as eloquent as pc, so I’ll leave that bit to her.

***

I wish I could say something more positive in this post, but well, I can’t. It’s just one of those crappy things, and I could write a whole load more about it, but I think that’s enough rubbishy stuff from me for today.

one hundred & sixty eight: shame

the good ol’ search function on our blog reveals that i’ve written about shame 33 times (and i can’t even believe it’s that infrequently). i didn’t count the number of pocketbrit’s posts that came up but i’d guess it’s similar to me.

it feels too huge to even try to tackle tonight. it is the thing i’m working on in therapy right now…in particular, the shame i feel about the inordinate amount of shame i have, and the horrifying way i often succumb to its downward spiral. how knowing him and naming him don’t seem to help not to listen to his voice. how i am still so affected by him, how fully i still believe what he has to say.

to be fair, i have made baby steps, namely, that i am able to tell nearly instantly when i encounter the voice of capital-s Shame. and every once in awhile, i’m able to steel myself against him, sometimes sufficiently enough that i can defend against his wily, evil ways. however, even those times, i am not grateful to him for getting me here, i fucking hate his guts. and lately, it’s seems to be a losing battle and i get sucked into the undertow, choking and sputtering for days on end.

the shame about Shame is the worst, though. because most times, i don’t want to admit that he’s got me. that i’m not better than that, yet. that i am too weak and too small to fight him, that i let him win. that i’m siding with their voices, that i’m not as healed as i pretend to be.

insidious bastard.

he makes me think that dying is a viable option. that the best thing would be to remove myself from all of it. to protect others from me, to shield them from my rot, to excise myself from the world, to erase my existence.

he steals pocketbrit from me, and me from her, so much lately. he tells me that my wife and daughter would be better off without me. that i am pathetic, that i am never going to get better, that i am wrong and stupid no matter what i do. that i deserve to be alone, just like they said. that i’ll never get it right, even if i try my hardest.

he gets in my ears and transforms the words, expressions, and tone of the people who love me. puts me on edge. isolates me. sings me to his side of things. and reminds me, at every turn, that there is something so unbelievably wrong about me that my own parents couldn’t love me.

my therapist tells me, over and over, with unbelievable patience and gentleness, that he’s the one who’s wrong. that his voice was directed to me, that it’s not mine. that just because shame speaks, doesn’t mean that he speaks the truth. that in fact, it is his voice that got me here, that enabled me to survive to this point. with amazing, persistent, optimism, she tells me stories about how we can listen to it without accepting it. (ha. maybe she can. i am less successful at this).

coz really…the cadence of his voice is so familiar, his words so horribly intimate. he knows how to make us curl up into a tiny ball. makes the tears prickle with alarming immediacy. helps us pack it in, tells us to quit trying to be too big for our britches.

i wish i knew the antidote to his convictions. i’m open to ideas, honestly, so feel free to share in the comments.

one hundred & sixty five: greed

this one just makes me want to swear and throw things. it makes me so, so ashamed, and it’s all mixed up in all kinds of stuff from my childhood and i just really don’t even want to write about it but i also want to keep the momentum going on the blog so i’m going to, but ugh.

and ugh again.

*

being greedy is interwoven so tightly for me with selfishness, another word that makes my cheeks flush with shame. wanting anything when i was little was too much, was selfish, was greedy. and what i was most greedy about, and for, was attention.

i was a teacher’s pet. i aspired to be. the moment someone i liked, or admired responded with kindness or positive attention, i bloomed. i can remember the feeling, of literally unfolding, of how my body relaxed and i would feel warm and soft and glowy. i can almost imagine it was a physical thing that happened, that i expanded somehow into the space around me.

i was desperate for attention, and was shamed throughout my life for striving to be seen, to be heard, to be noticed. it was a personal affront to my mom (and she was right to be offended, it was most certainly a commentary on her parenting) and she’d shut it down at every opportunity.

*

all kids are greedy. they are egocentric, they situate themselves at the centre of everything. it is necessarily how kids are, until they reach a certain age. and that natural sense of wanting the biggest slice of cake or of arguing over the larger half of the cookie or wanting the sharpest pencil crayon or holding the teacher’s hand the most times at recess was used as evidence of my selfishness and greed, to support how i was a little girl who didn’t think of others. i can feel myself shrinking even now, recalling it.

*

i’m really struggling to write this next part but it feels important so i’m going to try…it’s just that when i read all the definitions of greed, they mentioned food, and it upset me the most about the word, because my relationship with food is the one area i just haven’t been able to touch in therapy. and it’s fucked up, friends. a real mess.

the completely disordered way i relate to food was inherited at least in part from my constantly-dieting mom, but is also deeply rooted in trauma. i feel like i’m only starting to realize how deeply and it terrifies me. to start, i hate my body. for so so many reasons, mostly the mere fact that i have to have one, that i have to dress it, that i must attend to its needs, that i have to look at it ever, that i have to acknowledge it.

you see, my current body is the type of body my dad was always disgusted about. there was almost nothing worse you could be, than fat (which is a physical manifestation of greed and gluttony, obviously). and…over the years, i have built myself this body, i have cultivated it into my current form, as a way to defy them, as a way to challenge their love, but the thing is, i fucking hate it. like fully, absolutely hate my body. i want to be positive about it, i want to love the fact that i am soft and comfy and curvy but i don’t. i feel (and actually am) heavy, lumbering, ungainly. so so ugly. out of control, and fully broadcasting it to everyone.

everyone who looks at me can see my greed. everyone can see that i take more than my share, that i am selfish, that i am gross. that i’m screaming out for attention, daring to take so much space.

it would be one thing if having this body made me happy, or fulfilled, or proud. if i somehow reclaimed it. if i grew to love it, just as it was. that’s what we’re all meant to do, right? love and accept ourselves?

i can’t. even though i built up layers and layers around me, even though i’m safe now, even though the only person i’m punishing is myself, even though it’s not proving any points anymore. i can’t be gentle about the fact that i’ve done this to myself. that i’ve internalized their disgust so deeply that i am harming my body and my health and my appearance. that i do this in front of my daughter. i can’t love or accept any of it, it’s so incredibly sickening.

one hundred & sixty one: anger

i don’t do anger very well, either. let’s just get that straight.

*

a few years ago i would have said i was fluent in anger. it was an acceptable expression of emotion, just like with pocketbrit’s family, but there was no awareness of what drove it. what it was covering. what lay underneath.

at the beginning of my marriage, when my wife and i argued, i’d often end up really angry. super frustrated, sharp words, defensive, prickly, unfair, terrible. and her response was to cajole, distract, or check out, coz that’s what kept her safe in her home as a kid, being able to interrupt a volatile situation or just exit. coz she also came from a home where anger was dangerous; where there was screaming and violence and arguing. in fact, she remembers often taking refuge on the roof of her house, where the shouting and crashing were muffled, where she’d sit, with her knees drawn up, watching the stars, waiting for it to end. that makes me so so sad.

it just occurred to me that we triggered the fuck out of each other. i got angry, and she got absent. she didn’t get angry, she just got quiet, and then i got absent.

*

over the ensuing decade and a bit, we worked it through. she knows that when i am lashing out at her, that i am hurt. and i know that if i want her to hear me, i need to dig deeper, and let her know what’s beneath all my spikes. similarly, i know that when she starts raging about the house being out of order or going silent, that she is scared, and needing to exert control somewhere. she has learned that disappearing when she is angry is far scarier for me than any words or actions she may take.

however, these last few years have really fucked with that vibe. separately, we’re each working through our trauma(s) in therapy, and it’s been hard, really hard, to figure it out with each other while we’re evolving individually. she is learning to find her voice, her entirely justified anger, her inner advocate, and it is so good, and so important, and so necessary. by no means am i always good with it, coz sometimes i’m just terrible, ask her. and on the flip side, i am learning (so so fucking slowly, like turtle-with-four-broken-legs slow) to allow room for my hurt, to feel the stuff beneath all those angry, prickly layers i built up, to unpack the reflex to get mad. it is the worst timing, and the best timing both, and it is hard.

*

more often than not these days, i am terrified by anger. my own, and that of others. i get instantly small, instantly triggered, instantly wanting to bolt out of wherever i am so i can hyperventilate and panic. and it is really fucking inconvenient, and so shameful. i mean, fuck, i grew up with a goodly dose of violence, parents who yelled and hit us fairly frequently, i used to have no problem getting enraged, why am i getting so fucking weird about it now?

i don’t know, but nowadays, anger undoes me. i’ve gone the opposite direction.

ask the people closest to me (my wife, pocketbrit, even my kid) and they’ll tell you. a hint of anger and i’m outta there. it’s the worst, the absolute worst.

i really want to get better with it.

Shut (130)

Lately I just want everything shut. I want to shut my brain up, I want to shut my mouth for good, I want to shut away all the memories, all the body sensations, all the connections. I want to shut myself away, and I think that I should be shut away, locked up, because I must be completely crazy.

Tonight shame has roared. It’s been so incredibly noisy, shouting in my ear and harming my friendship. It’s telling me everything that is wrong with me. Going over and over the constant list that is being replayed both visually behind my eyes, and audibly…that list of everything that people would change about me, if they just had the chance. Everything wrong with me.

I want to shut shame up. That’s really what I need, and somewhere in the back of my head, I know that. And yet, he gets too loud, I can’t hear past it, and then all I think is that I want to be shut in a coffin, 6ft under, where everything would just be so much easier. I wish I hadn’t thrown all of the razors out of my house to stop myself self-harming, because I know that it would just help lately.

 

*****

Pocketcanadian says to me sometimes that she needs to take care of her, because nobody else will. And that makes my shame roar. What I hear is that I am not a good person in her life, that I don’t take care of her, that I just hurt her and am not gentle. It feels like her shutting me out, the biggest shove, a ‘you’re not safe pb, get away from me’. I know that isn’t what she’s saying now, as I write this…. she’s quite reasonably and rightly saying that we need to take care of ourselves first, because we’re the only ones that know what we need and can see to those needs. And yet it still feels like a shut door. I still can’t completely rid the shame of hearing it. I get scared of being shut out, it sends my little one spinning.

*****

Recently, I can’t remember if it was in a dream or if it was during the early hours of the morning where I wasn’t asleep, but you almost feel like you are, as your brain is going over things, imagining scenarios in that dream-like state, but I was thinking about how I’d like to just go mute. Shut up entirely. I mean, I’m not very chatty anyway, I’m very shy. I barely talk even in therapy, and something feels so restful about not talking anymore, like I used to do when I was really little. I think I’m just so tired of the talking sometimes. It doesn’t exactly take loads of energy, and yet somehow it really feels like it does.

*****

And I just want to shut myself away and hide from the world, from my family. From everybody but the very few that are special and so important to me, like pc.

one hundred & twenty: release

like people around the globe, we have been on the instant pot train for a couple years now. i love that appliance, i really do, and if you’re thinking of buying one, i’d say you should. (no this post is not sponsored. i don’t even know how i would go about getting it sponsored. and no, am not interested in finding out). (oh and ps, it was invented by a canadian, pocketbrit! which i’m well aware will instantly incite disdain and eye-rolling, you predictable ridiculous woman.)

but why i thought of my instant pot was because there is this thing on it called a release valve. when you are using the pressure cooking function you can wait for things to cool down (a “natural” release), or you can hit the valve, and in an instant, all of this hissing steam comes blasting out of the lid, fogging your windows, and filling your house with the smell of whatever you’re cooking.

and somehow, yesterday, i seemed to have hit an internal release valve, except what came pouring out was grief.

it took me by surprise – not the grief per se, that had been there, simmering in the background, after a series of difficult texts with my mom, whose main purpose in life seems to be to remain clueless about difficult things and to undermine anyone who challenges her cluelessness. i had just been grocery shopping, and the tears had threatened close while i was there, as i texted with pocketbrit, but were easily blinked away. i parked my car in my driveway, clicked the ignition off, and was going to open the door to get out, when i started sobbing. full out, full on. no particular precipitating thought or reason for it, just pure, unfettered anguish. and so, i burrowed my chin into the beautiful soft scarf pocketbrit knit me, and let it out.

my grief fogged up my car windows. the wet on my cheeks felt so cold, and my feet froze in my boots as i sat and waited for its waves to subside. had i not been startled by a sensor light turning on suddenly at the side of our house, i may have sat there even longer, my breath ragged, my voice not even seeming my own. but as quickly as it started, it sort of stopped, and i made four chilly trips in and out of the frigid black evening to bring in the groceries, and then started to unpack them.

my daughter didn’t see my face, but my wife did, right away. and she put her hand on my arm, wanting to draw me into her, but the thought of it made my eyes well up again and i choked out that i couldn’t, not just yet. i poured myself a cold glass of water, hoping to swallow the lump in my throat, but instead my eyes spilled over and i could feel another wave coming, so i excused myself into my room, and i muffled my sadness into my stuffed dog and my pillow for i don’t know how long. and eventually, the waves became ripples, and my breathing slowed, and i mopped my face and nose and went back to join my family.

and then, my sweet daughter noticed my puffy eyes and splotchy face, and suggested that we have a cuddle in our beloved cuddle chair (a big leather chair in our living room, perfectly suited for the snuggling of one grown up, and one growing-but-not-quite-grown kid). so we did that, and she asked what had happened, and i just told her i was sad, so sad, i wasn’t sure why, but the feeling just go so big, did that ever happen to her? and she said it did, and she also said that it was okay, that i could be sad if i needed and she would be there. (and frig, that almost made me start up again because hello, who is this beautiful, sensitive creature who is just freshly nine years of age?!)

so then we had dinner, and did our bedtime song and dance, and after i’d tucked that beautiful, sensitive creature into bed and crawled into my own, there was a part three to the release. and i don’t know what exactly precipitated this series of releases, what button i hit, but even though it was exhausting and made my head pound and my eyes burn, i was just so grateful for the emptiness it left behind, for the feeling of my exonerated, exhaled grief in the room.

and in fact, it is only just now that it strikes me why it felt okay, why i can feel grateful, and it’s because of how gently i was held through it: by my wife, my child, by pocketbrit. by my t, when i told her about it today. and mostly, that i managed to hold myself through it, that somehow, i managed to sit with it, and let it be there. that i finally discovered a mute button to shame, under whose rule i’ve been living for weeks.

i know the relief cannot last, but for today, it is enough, it is welcome, it is good.

Crying (111)

Well I’ve been doing a fair bit of this today…

This one is kind of mixed in with all the ‘being weak’ stuff that I wrote about the other day (or started to write about)  And when I say mixed in, I mean glued together, being smooshed into each other by ten tonnes of iron either side, inside a locked safe with the key thrown away in a room 1,000ft under ground… ie really fucking together, and never not going to be. Crying is weak. That is the message that was planted into me very early on, and fed all the time. So really the first huge thing I think of when I think of me crying, is massive amounts of shame. And that’s all thanks to my family

I mean, to begin with I grew up with two older brothers, and that just in itself probably tends to result in a girl being a little tougher and less likely to cry (maybe? Maybe not. Depends on the family and the kids, but with my kind of brothers definitely so). Then you can include my hard mother, who doesn’t cry, never has been a crier. She was tough, not soft, and that was how I was to be. And then, y’know, you can add into the mix my entire childhood experiences. Violent father, abusive family, sexually abusive family, for that matter. And I was the mediator, the one required to keep her cool and keep the peace and make sure everything was okay. I was needed to be emotionless, and to a great extent I was. Different parts generally held different emotions, and I appeared to the outside world devoid of all ‘bad’ ones… Or “fine”. (that word had better not come up any time soon or I really will cry).

So, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t cry much. I absolutely could get upset, but as I got older I started to switch my emotions off. But to do that, I absolutely did cry… late at night, all on my own. About things that were happening to me, about imagining family members dying, about characters in books and films. I had books and films that I would turn to when I felt like I needed to cry. And I would sob into my stuffed elephant, like really really cry… About fictional characters, and yet also about the feelings of things that were actually happening to me, in my very real life.

And that was almost every single night for a while. I took myself to bed and I read if I needed to, and I cried myself to sleep.

Fast forward on a few years and I felt like I must’ve cried myself out, used up all my tears, because I could no longer cry…my tactical books and films no longer worked, I was immune to them. I was noticeably hardened, to the point where people commented on it. All of it had been turned off  because it was all far too much.

Im still so ashamed of crying, of being weak, of allowing there to be a place for my hurt and of people knowing that I am hurting. But I’m so much better with it. And I do think a certain Canadian friend has helped so much with that, by being kind and gentle and reassuring and sitting with me when it happens. I’m relearning to cry, and I really hate it sometimes, but it feels much better and safer with her by my side. She uses the phrase that “it feels like you will down in the grief” or “die from the pain of it”, and it really really does sometimes. Just today it all felt like too much to bear, it felt like I would never stop crying, and yet always, always, I have.

All of this is not to say that I cry a lot, because I don’t, I’m still getting there. But it’s more. Its also only ever on my own or with safe people, which so far only includes pocketcanadian, (though my therapist is close to being added to that list I think, if she stops disappointing me enough that I actually go back to her). But it’s so much better to give it space, to feel those feelings, even when you feel like you won’t survive them.

Lastly, this makes me think of pocketcanadian and how heavy my heart feels that she let’s me be there when she’s crying, that I’m safe enough. And it makes me think about how being on the phone to her and hearing her cry, is sometimes enough to make me cry too.

one hundred: diligence

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.

**this post was actually written on jan 13/19 but backposted to the day the word came out**