Last week I was in the Bad Place. I was finishing the chapter & experiencing a lot of the pain my friends went through. I was eating. I spoke to a man & he hazarded meeting in early June & I haven't heard from him since.
I was tired.
I was scared of my book.
I went through that familiar litany that men can induce so well: what did I say? Is the way I look? What didn't I say? Is he testing me? Should I call him & straighten whatever it is out?
Whatever. I woke up on Saturday morning after an ice cream adventure & thought to myself, "What did I do to deserve the way I treat myself???"
Sometimes the voices in our heads are Good. The What-Did-I-Say voice is Bad. That waking thought was Good.
I took a great intake of air & let it out slowly. What did I do? I've harmed relatively few people. I've been nice to a great many more. I've been nice to people I shouldn't be nice to.
OK, I have to back up a bit because there's another man I've been in touch with for a long time now. We speak on the phone & send emails back & forth. He admires my twist of phrase & imagination. I think he's pretty cool. I told him that I have some ambivalence about meeting but did he think we ought to. He reported that he's ambivalent as well but supposes that sometime...
My ambivalence has names for it. I don't like the way I look right now. I don't want to complicate trying to look better with a lot of guy baggage. I have a book that's overdue.
He probably doesn't have names for his. They're most likely along the lines of I like it like this; I don't really want/have time to get involved; what if I don't like her & the illusion is spoilt -- or -- what if I do like her & have to show up for that feeling?
Essentially, he doesn't want to meet me. Remember: I was in the Black Place. I guess I must not be worth meeting, I thought sadly. The more reasonable part of me said that's poppycock. Between the two of us, we decided to table the ruling but to leave the question open. Am I worth meeting?
Worth. Deserve. There's a theme devleping here.
AA calls it "stinkin' thinkin'," a phrase I really hate but this deserving thing is a classic example.
Friday night: I'm in bed. I get a call for an emergency dog walk. I hadn't had enough cash to go get something dangerous but now I do, & I'm out. Don't I deserve something for a hard day's dogs, the difficulty of writing, my general anxiety? Don't I deserve a treat?
Saturday: I get up angry with myself & blurt that question out. But it's reversed, in the same terms: What did I do to deserve to treat myself so badly? "Deserve" is no long a reward but a negative action; "treat" is no longer a noun but a verb -- "act, behave, regard, handle," among other meanings. Ice cream & cookies are how I act or how I regard myself.
& that's both nonsense & wrong. If I regard myself as ice cream where is my sense of humor or my obsession with deadheading petunias? If I act as ice cream, why do I care who the president of the US is or how some reader will react to this blog? Ice cream leads to more ice cream; it has no conscious but if it did, it would regard itself only as ice cream.
Whereas a human being can regard herself as "Divine Empress of the World," as I told Mellie this morning when she came running to meet me at the door with a Planet Dog ball of the earth in her mouth. A human being can regard herself as a writer.
A human being can regard herself as worth meeting. As deserving to be, at least, thanked for the email I sent containing information he'd asked for as a favor to a friend.
A human being deserves not be in pain when she has a simple headache or a complicated history with someone.
& so yesterday I wrote to the other half of that complicated history & said it's too painful to talk or communicate or even think about. The other half was as gracious as I -- we both expressed our faith in the other & our good wishes. & I'm lumpy-throated today but I know it will be better tomorrow if I don't do something stupid like delude myself into deserving a treat that will give me one more painful feeling to wake up with tomorrow.
I don't "deserve" that either.
I suppose my next email ought to be why I haven't responded to email gambits from an ambivalent man.
Who knows who or what comes next?
I've always wanted a metal detector, and maybe you have, too...