Bondage Anyone?

Or, “Comment Whore barfs on blog”, whichever tickles your fancy. I’m basically emptying out my drafts folder, like a cat coughing up a hair ball, and hoping that Stuart’s challenge will be answered well enough if all of my titles contain words that are at least whore related.

Now, there isn’t much nutritive value in a hair ball, but it’s essential all the same to clearing a channel. Patrick thought that I should just combine all my drafts into one long post, but I will spare you that. (Besides, then I would still have five more posts to start from scratch.) The poem that follows is one that I recently included in a comment on Oleoptene’s blog and, while I thought that I was done with it, it keeps coming up for me, so I’m going to go ahead and start with it here.

If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, “This is not dead,”
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou are replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes He says, “This is enow
Unto itself – ’twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.”

I first read these lines from Sir Thomas Brown in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light when I was not quite yet a teenager. They might have been the only lines of poetry I memorized as an adolescent and they still come to mind whenever I repeat similar lines from the 3rd Step prayer, “relieve me of the bondage of self.” Do I like the poem? Not really. Or at least not in its entirety, probably because I hear a shaming tone in it (not sure if it’s really there or not) which has the potential to send me into a shame spiral about having shame, but I am so very replete with me, so full of shrewd activity, and Yes, dear God, please relieve me of the bondage of self.

In my experience, bondage of self usually looks a lot like self-hatred. Over the years it’s shifted a bit. Sometimes I’m actually pretty cool with myself and feel somewhat right sized. On my harder days (or months, or years) I feel vehement self-disapproval. I don’t actually hate myself anymore, which is perhaps why my inferiority complex has been flying under the radar for so long now, but my God it is pervasive. And seriously, how did it sneak up on me again like this? I suddenly feel like I can’t escape it. I apologize for everything. I have a hard time owning anything. I feel like a fraud. Sitting in a large group of other mothers – none of whom have as many children as I do or have been mothers as long as I have – I feel like a novice, like I have nothing to share but my mistakes. We talk about spiritual gifts on Sunday and I think to myself that maybe this is my gift: fumbling around like an idiot and being willing to do it so very publicly.

To be sure I’ve made progress in this area, but it has always been on the heals of unbearable pain. I’m scared to death that I am going to be stuck living like this forever, or that I will have to hit some sort of terrible bottom in order for it to budge again. Honestly I thought I was past this. Plunk me down in the middle of Northpark Mall, surrounded by beautifully manicured ladies with their Coach bags and Prada heels and I feel perfectly comfortable. My hard-earned confidence in this area can lull me into a false sense of security, like, “Hey! I have this thing licked!” because believe me, twenty years ago the Northpark mall would have made me want to go and throw up my lunch. But then I go to Goodreads and I suddenly feel like I’m twelve years old. Like, what have I been doing with all my time? Why haven’t I read Kafka yet? Or I go to the Website of Portland Art and Soul to look at the classes being offered and I wonder why my name isn’t up there on the instructor list. Or I drive down to Austin, TX to meet Mara, there with her brilliant husband who is one of the speakers at SXSW Interactive, and I feel like a total retard. How could I have ever thought that I could make it in the world of interactive design? I can’t even think about the freelance work I just didn’t complete without clenching my jaw and my stomach twisting into knots.

What’s up? It’s been years since I have felt so down on myself.

This is not what I expected as I head into my 40’s. Forty is my self imposed deadline for getting really okay with myself, because damn it, my forty’s are going to rock. I don’t want to be comparing my accomplishments/my skin/my weight/my clothes/my reading list/my art/my children/my husband/my finances/my ANYTHING with others anymore when I’m forty. I want to be like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Rome,

“They all strive to outdo one another culturally, architecturally, politically, fiscally. But Rome, it should be said, has not bothered to join the race for status. Rome doesn’t compete. Rome just watches all the fussing and striving, completely unfazed, exuding an air like: Hey, do whatever you want, but I’m still Rome. I am inspired by the regal self-assurance of this town, so grounded and rounded, so amused and monumental, knowing that she is held securely in the palm of history. I would like to be like Rome when I am an old lady.”

and I don’t want to have to wait until I’m old, either.

Well, fuck. I just made the serious mistake of trying to find the right post on Oleoptene to link to, reread several of her posts and the very thoughtful comments that followed, and am now thinking why bother? What’s the point of a non-writer trying to write? oh nasty nasty mind please shut up. I really need a break.

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~ by jenzai on March 20, 2009.

 
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