So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

19 November, 2007

A Sufficiency Of The Evidence

"What do you want?"

"I have everything I want."


I have never in my life been enough.

When I was about twelve, I think, I started getting my mother chocolates for Christmas. Cherries, with the stems on, in dark chocolate, a half-dozen of them every year. Because I was certain she liked them, certain there would be no disappointment at receiving them, no pause, and then the little sigh, and then the muted, "Thank you" that made it clear that somehow, something had managed to fall short. There was a failure there, something unspoken, a perpetual wound.

And that's without getting into the dramatic spikes of failure at impossible standards, the betrayals by the incomprehensible. The messages I get occasionally, seesawing wildly between "we've got the bestest mother/daughter relationship evar" and "I don't know what to do with you, you shut me out, I'm uninvolved in your life, you reject me", the threat of the latter a now-fangless attempt at enforcing the former.

My father would tell me that he knew I could do better, sometimes, and I know he meant it in that encouraging way, look, the goal is a little further on, it's within your reach, just stretch a little. When I pointed out how poorly "you can do better than this" interacted with Mom's "nothing you do will ever be good enough", he nearly cried.

There is always the capacity to strive, the obligation to strive, and the knowledge that it will not suffice. Hamartia is the Greek word, often translated as "sin": missing the mark, missing the target, the arrow falls short. I grew up steeped in hamartia, leaving stains on my bones like tea left in the cup too long; any success was inadequate, any failure was proof of inadequacy. The moral qualities of failure, of sin, turned me into a newt, breathing in guilt and shame in the constant flood of hamartia.

Metamorphosis happens. As does hamartia. I cannot keep breathing the same thing as I did before I grew legs, but hamartia calls to me, a safe place to swim, even the toxins are familiar. Until I realise I'm choking, choking on shame and guilt that's just ... floating about ... and there's nothing here to breathe. Not a baby newt anymore, soaking in poison through my skin. I can drown, here, now, in hamartia and the things that flow in it.

"What do you want?"

"I have everything I want."

They're amazing things, the moments where the world coils in close and simplifies down into just us for a while, the shape of being me and being him and us being the two of us and setting down the outside for a while, his hand on the back of my neck, my face buried against his shoulder, the urge to please and serve told that it does well, that it is ... enough.

I have never in my life been enough, I told him, and I cried. Never been enough. Never been able to put down the striving to be better and more, or the knowledge that no striving will be sufficient.

And he said he had been sad, and I had given him happiness, and this was enough.

For a little there, curled up in his arms, settled into the glowy contentment of satiated service, I ...

... can almost believe it.

5 comments:

Chris said...

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Regards, Chris
(Please can you delete this comment after your decision?)

Cheshire said...

This was wonderful, and wonderful written, thankyou

Deoridhe said...

Beautiful, but so sad. 8(

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I think this is a sad I'll be dealing with for a good while, yeah.

Thinking about it makes me tear up. I teared up at the shrink talking about it, I teared up rereading this just now, I ... yeah.

So sad.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Beautiful writing, your spirit so striving for truth.