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?
But, to go with, we unfortunately have raging parental paranoia that keeps people from taking shots on all sorts of occasions...