I’m Not Afraid

Another slow morning. Curled up in the library chair (my “fancy” wingtip, even-if-it’s-just-Ikea chair) with coffee, the news, and the white noise of the space heater. It would be perfect, if I weren’t lathering myself with guilt because I am still not back to the old routines.

I try shifting my perspective from “whipping myself back into shape” to something kinder, but I am stuck in this shallow spot – measuring my worth with calipers. Feeling broken because of my runner’s knee, baker cyst, shoulder impingement, tension headaches. I feel the muscle tension inside my mouth. Like after a long cry that doesn’t quite empty you, there is this bit of metal still screwed into the roof of you mouth, pulling at your teeth, burning your throat.

I know these things I am dealing with are little things. No-things. There is proof of this everywhere I look. People I love are having to pushing through much harder walls and appear to do so without self-pity. But I circle back to guilt instead of moving through. It is my weird, little me-made vortex of familiar shame.

A familiar is a demon that nestles in the skirts of a witch. In the shape of a cat, a toad, or a chimera.

A familiar wasp, maybe.

Sometimes these lower ranking demons are conferred directly by the devil. Sometimes inherited.

There is this attic. Cluttered and dusty. And there is a wasps’ nest clinging to a rafter. It looks abandoned, but you never know and you’re afraid to sweep away the small corpses scattered on the floor.

Why would anyone deliberately go on a bear hunt?

I have so many conflicting shoulds. And a long list of over-due tasks. I have de-cluttered the house that feels good. I can see the floor in the library now. The desktops are clear in the room we once called the atelier. (Ah, best-laid plans.) But there is still clutter in my head that is like a wall full of post-it notes, each without context of any sort, few I remember writing; like a stack of books I need to read, but can’t remember why; like repressed memories of one-night stands, abandoned acute (and costly) obsessions, and all of the what-was-I-thinkings. There is a fog of grief over every thought these days.

Can’t go around it
Can’t go over it
Can’t go under it
We have to go through it

2 Replies to “I’m Not Afraid”

  1. “measuring my worth with calipers.” I’ve had the feeling, and I hope you can someday put it behind you (though maybe you never will, just to be realistic) or at least use a bathroom scale instead of calipers.

    Interesting that you used the word “familiar” with the wasps. Those stings that family makes familiar. I feel lucky that what stung me into shyness and feeling unworthy came mostly from outside of the family. The neighborhood was familiar enough, though.

    What a memory you evoked in me–getting our hair washed in the sink! In our case, the bathroom sink, to save on water and heating bills. And maybe also to save time for my mother.

  2. “I know these things I am dealing with are little things. No-things.”

    The “No-things” are the stuff of life. The rest is the drama and noise so often shared and so infinitely easier than the “no-things” of one’s actual life.

    Be well. It can also be the “no-things” that turn the tide.


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