“The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else’s imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!” Thomas Merton – The Seven Storey Mountain
I struggle with feeling insignificant. You wouldn’t know it to look at me because most of my life I’ve been fighting that feeling like crazy. And, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m also apt to get tetchy at anyone who doesn’t help me avoid my gaping lack of self worth. Thus I end up looking stroppy rather than meekly shy and unworthy.
But underneath all the bluster and brashness I feel about the size of a pea. A tiny green pea.
I also care deeply about how you view me. I want to avoid you knowing about my ‘green pea-ness’ at almost any cost. I’d prefer you think of me as worldly, knowledgeable and, if we could arrange it, attractive, kind and considerate too. Underneath I feel I am none of those things. But, did I mention? I don’t want you to find me out.
I firmly believe that to teach well we must honour only that which we wish to teach and not our own part in it. I can’t be full of Truth if I am full of my own self-importance or concerned with my image. Hence when we truly love and want to give the gift of learning to others there is a place we find – where only the Truth and not ourselves matters.
Sometime I strike that balance, a rare magic where I forget all about what you think of me, or how silly my passionate proclamations must look. Instead I am caught up in the beauty of Truth and Gods wonder in everything.
Saturday was not one of those days for me.
On days like Saturday I find myself in a sea of inadequacy. Book group starts I’m floundering in feeling less-than-you and my brain goes to mush.
I don’t want you to know it though. I want rescue… although I haven’t quite figured out how that might work.
AJ arrives – ready to rescue the teaching – and all I can think is how dumb I must seem and how little point there is to me being there…
And that’s where it all goes wrong. I’m still waving, vying for attention, not drowning, and submitting to my feelings. I’m struggling for façade. I still won’t crumble to those emotions so I project out. I want control back.
I want control so that somehow I might prevent the world knowing how insufficient I really am.
I’m spluttering away in half sentences, trying to keep from drowning, trying to hold back the landslide that really needs to overwhelm me if I’m ever going to be free. I’m looking cranky and cross with AJ.
AJ – who loves me more than almost everything, who values me even when I think we shouldn’t, who involves me in decisions and discussions that I joke are way beyond my pay grade – meaning I have no clue about what we should do since I’m still trying to ward of personal landslides and grappling with humility daily – AJ is there, quietly rescuing truth, aware that I just need to drown, giving me space to do that. He is calm and kind – in the magic place – of loving truth and giving to you.
All the while I’m caught up in my own private melodrama suspecting that you see right through me, but still valiantly attempting to stop you (and the world) from knowing that I really am a tiny pea person, who has no business here.
Its tough and its emotional. And reading my own words I know I see the world through my own error (e.g. perhaps its not entirely true that I’m a tiny pea – but the point is that this is what I feel).
Truthfully I find it hard to share about this stuff, because of the aforementioned dread of you, reader, knowing how small I really am, but also because so many people seem to relish the belief that these feelings are in me because AJ has me in some kind of self-depreciating cycle. If only I could show you all the truth. That I am loved by him so much more than I have ever been by anyone and this is healing me in the tenderest way, in a way I didn’t know was possible.
Since I met AJ my care and respect for myself has grown enormously. Have I told you that I used to drink and smoke and go home with men who didn’t care to know me let alone care to love me? I have wandered around for years trying my best to cover up how desperately bad I feel though addictions and anger. Despite my ‘drowning/landslide private/ public melodrama event’ on Saturday things are actually better inside me than they have been my entire life.
There are days when I do let myself drown in the grief of feeling less-than men and insufficient. I have a long stored up wealth of memories that bear out a painful history of being abused, hurt, overlooked and tortured by men, not to mention I live in a world that has acknowledged me only as ‘whore’ for 2000 years. There is pain to feel and slowly I am submitting more and more.
I’m only disappointed on days like Saturday because my façade, though shaky, still grapples for control. I push out instead of softening inwards. I want you to like me more than I want to love myself. I worry that others, particularly women, use my obvious struggle, to justify their own difficulties with men or with AJ.
I know that such things are beyond my control but truly it would be my hope to challenge you in my humility not offer you validation in my resistance. How can I have you know that crazy, courageous, humility is the only way to freedom and that my pains are my own, and not right to be blamed upon others who love me?
Its so easy to keep blaming men for the feelings already inside, to punish them for the lie that ‘I am less than men’ that I bought and now carry. Regardless of how men may treat me, I will believe this until I am brave enough to grieve it. The sad truth is that the men in my life now had nothing to do with creating these feelings in me. These errors came from men and womenin my past.
I am so grateful that the man who God gave to me loves me. He honours me even when I struggle to do this for myself.
“Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers the most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all. It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once the subject and the source of his pain, and his very existence and consciousness is his greatest torture.” Thomas Merton – The Seven Storey Mountain
God, walk with me while I uncover those worthless, hurting parts of myself. Help me towards humility rather than façade and defence. Let my grieving open me to the truth about myself and to the love that already surrounds me. Let me strive to embrace the suffering of the past so that I may open my heart to a hopeful future, full of freedom.
Amen. I like the phrase "personal landslide" – describes perfectly the feeling of something I've tried so hard to hide, suddenly so exposed you tumble and gasp for breath (internally).
Dear Mary YOU are a special treat. Watching your journey as you struggle, change and grow towards God is so encouraging and at a level I can relate to. For myself, as I struggle so much with even the tiniest change inside myself, seeing you having the courage to do this book study despite your fears and feelings of inadequacy, of still not knowing everything but exposing yourself and going ahead anyway, is hugely inspiring. Thank you thank you thank you. Love Alwyn
"decisions above my pay grade " … & "tiny pea" … am very familiar with both of these … thank you Enrique