Twice this week a thing has happened to rattle me to my centre.
Not the happy centre, filled with light, glitterbombs and a heart which beats for my family and friends; this is a false ‘middle’ – a layer – a lie.
It’s a thick layer, robust and full of wonderful; capable of Good.
But under there, if you dig in deep and peel it back, there is a dark, ice-cold core. A small, rotten root of immeasurable power over my feelings, my behaviour, my being. It is the oldest and most unchecked part of me.
Founded in childhood, it grew so huge it nearly consumed me, and I was ice – hard, undelectable, cold and unlovable. The ultimate self-fulfilling prophesy, for I guarantee you, if you undermine a child’s sense of self-worth enough, with your Adult Power and Inherent Rightness, they will believe you. It’s unavoidable.
With great power comes great responsibility, and the Powers in my life were not able to care to be careful.
My sense of self was systemically crafted into the thing I recognise now, right down deep.
A burden, a drain, an irritation, a thing to be borne, a constant reminder of the imperfections of life, something ‘less than’, whose opinion and feelings count for naught.
As I sit and type, trying not to well up at the idea of a small child hearing any of those thoughts and internalising them, a vile mirror erupts in my mind’s eye and I see my own reflection, repugnant, teasing me, pointing with wry laughter, telling me, “Ah, but it wasn’t just ‘a’ small child – it was you, and you deserve no more than this.”
So I counter with intellect; things the mind knows:
I have good relationships with my family now – they enjoy being around me.
I have strong, responsive friendships with good people – they want me in their lives.
I have married a man who has told me he will be with me until death parts us.
My reflection smirks and shrugs, “But of course – how well do they know this side? The pitiable, pathetic, whining side? The useless side? The side which, if they ever saw it – saw you – for who you truly are, would find you as repugnant as you find yourself?”
I try to beat it back with faith; things the soul has learned:
I have a heavenly Father who made me in His image and who has called me Good
He sent His son to die, so that He might restore relationship with me, and would do if I was the only human on Earth.
My reflection rolls her eyes, “You, and every other person in the world. You are all unique. You are all ‘special’, and that means none of you are. It wouldn’t matter if it was you or anyone else who was the last person in the world. This is about God’s character, not yours. If He wants to do all that, great, but it’s not about YOU.”
I can beat it back no longer.
Twice this week, I’ve been called things I know, deeply, viscerally, I am not.
And I am shaken, shaking, and can’t meet your eye in case you do it again.
Because if I try to take that idea, so beautiful, exquisite and wonderful, into that dark core, it might shatter, like Pandora’s box opening, and unleash something bigger, horrific, and thus far, caged.
But for you, because you said it, and for some reason, you care, I will seek help.
Because goodness knows, I don’t deserve it.