Terret me vita mea

It's dawn, or thereabouts. I can see a row of palm trees outside my hotel window. I was up too late last night watching Pay-per-view and hulu. I'm scared. As usual. Because here I am at the keyboard and I can't quite think what to say.

I saw my first saguaro yesterday. My cousin's wife asked (on Facebook) if they were in bloom. It is as warm here as it will be where I live sometime in June. I am afraid of my life.

There, did you notice that I was quoting Anselm? Perhaps this is a mediation to stir up fear. Perhaps it is a prayer. Lord, I have been so alone. So alone in the midst of your love. In the midst of my husband's love that I refused to see because of my fear.

And I've been angry. Angry at you for giving me dreams and ambitions. Angry at the world for not giving me what I wanted when I thought I wanted it. Angry at myself for not having the courage to ask for what I want because I am so afraid of hearing the word "No."

That does so not get to the heart of things. The jealousy. The unfairness. The inequities. Of pay. Of recognition. But then I didn't ask. So certain was I that I had to play by the rules even if I could see that others weren't.

Doesn't everyone hate herself? Really, deep down? I look at the people around me--recently, really look, now that my eyes are gradually healing to the point where I can see people clearly across a (small) room--and I see...what do I see?

That woman there, does she end up in tears when she talks with her therapist, too? How could she, she looks so calm, so self-assured. That's a concept: "self-assured", as if her self is assured that she is worth something, worth something simply in herself, not because she has earned it.

Oh, not to carry this burden of guilt. Is it Calvinist, this conviction that there is absolutely nothing I can do to earn what I want from life--because wanting in itself is wrong--but that no matter what I have to try?

Angry. The anger spills out, splashing, staining, ruining relationships, making me deaf to love. But I don't deserve to be loved. I am a Bad Girl. I should behave. I need to grow up.

Who is to blame? Did I do this to myself or did somebody teach me? Can I be healed, learn self-assurance?

Lies, lies, lies. You're just saying that to trick me. I know this, because every time I think that I've learned something about myself, maybe feel like I have a hope of getting better, you prove to me that I am wrong.

If only. If only I had the courage to ask for that raise. If only I could drown out the voices in my head that whisper to me of my failings. If only you could understand me. If only I could listen without succumbing to fear.

Whom to trust? Whom to turn to? I am a child crying for her mother, expecting to be punished for what she has done. Hate, hate, hate. The terrible frustration and rage. The impatience and jealousy. The fear.

Always the fear. Can I plumb the depths of this fear or will it go down down down forever? No bottom. No hope. It's your fault, you taught me to fear. To make myself small so that I would not offend simply by existing. Not to put myself forward. Not to want more than my due.

Which is nothing. It is wrong to want. It is wrong to have desires for something that you don't yet have. Be grateful for what you have. It is greedy to want more. And, besides, you don't deserve it. Yet.

But you can earn it if you work harder. Except you can't. Because you didn't ask. Because you made yourself small and didn't think that you deserve to ask. See? It's your fault for wanting; it's your fault for not asking; it's your fault because you exist.

Am I scared enough yet? Ah, ah, ah! The flames! The fires that burn the soul! Name them: Self-pity. Self-aggrandizement. Timidity. Ambition.

I saw you the other day. Clearly, for the first time in years. You were so gentle, so caring. And I had been pushing you away. There, in that glance, I could see how much you love me. And how scared you were that I might push you away.

As I have done, over and over again. It's my fault. But not my fault. It was my fear driving me. Where did I learn such fear?

Gently, gently. We are all fragile here. Your eyes are so gentle. I feel so loved when you smile. Are you smiling at me? Could you really love me?

No, I will not get angry and drive you away just to prove that I was right to think myself unlovable. Oh, but the risk in allowing myself to be loved. What if you don't? What if I am a Bad Girl? Won't you be justified in running away?

And as the ship sailed into the West, "the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."

Can it be that my dreams have been so wrong? Or is it just that I have tried to hold onto them so fiercely? Why have I been so angry with my life? It has never been that bad. Quite rich and wonderful, actually. But, always, as it were, slipping from my grasp, something that I didn't quite deserve. Or was afraid that I didn't deserve. Couldn't possibly deserve because I was a Bad Girl.

Lord, heal me, a sinner, who has not trusted you enough to love you. Who has walled herself up in fear against the possibility that you might reject her for not being Good Enough. Who has seen in your love a test rather than a gift. Who is more precious to you than she dares to hope. Who has done nothing to deserve your love because she couldn't.

And does not need to.


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