Candles, Church, Light, Lights, Prayer


…it’s a gigantic beast if you don’t know what it is.  It’s cultural.  It’s religious.  It’s etched into generational passages.  A family member doesn’t even need to implore it upon you in order for you to carry it.  It’s like it has its own DNA.  You don’t even have to go to church to be infected with it.  My entire brain is riddled with it.  It’s inoperable.

I was a bad kid.  I have been a bad adult.  No amount of good deeds can establish the confidence I would need to allow myself to move on from all the bad things I have done.  It doesn’t matter that someone else has done worse or that all kids act out at some point or that the things I have done as a grown up aren’t as bad as I think they are.  I have incredibly high standards and I fall short of them…so, so short.  Even when forgiven by others, I cannot forgive myself.

I don’t go to church.  I am not religious.  I don’t even know if God is real.  But I live off the terror that he might be and that, if so, I have a front row seat in Hell just waiting for me.  I am not flame retardant.  I go through life as a spark waiting for a little gasoline and then I ignite into a giant fireball and scorch everyone who tries to get close to me because deep down, I guess I believe I shouldn’t be loved.  Not that I can’t be loved.  I think I can be.  It’s that I shouldn’t be.

No amount of therapy, exercise, food control, medication, beach, travel can quell it.  I do a decent enough job getting by as a normal girl who can be loved.  But I will eventually have that one too many beers and ignite.

I have so much commentary about my first date woes because if the first date gets screwed up, that is definitely not on me.  I then deconstruct that person from my throne of emotional superiority and upper middle class sense of privilege…as though I am somehow better than someone because I have a Master’s Degree.  In truth, I am a college drop out who just happened to go back to school later in life.  That doesn’t match my pedigree so who I am to judge, well, that’s me being a bad adult.

But if I get past that first date, it’s because I have revealed a glimmer that I might be loveable.  Sober, I can  handle the responsibility of it.  I mean, it takes some pep talks from very close friends but I handle it.  Yet, I am incredibly secretive to my general public, broader friends and family because I dread the embarrassment of having to tell them I screwed up.  They expect that from me.  I would like to implode quietly and lick my wounds in secret while giving the appearance nothing is wrong or being able to blame my mood on something well known like PTSD or Depression.  Those things certainly do not help but they are not solely to blame.  For I am Irish Catholic and that hot, iron brand wins every time it singes my skin.

The 3rd date.  That’s upping the ante big time.  The nerves are on fire.  Should I keep seeing other people?  Are we going to have sex?  What if we don’t have sex?  What if I do go on other dates?  What if I am talking to other guys?  What if I should cancel because I know my mind is not strong after the Vegas shooting?  But I didn’t want him to think I was canceling because of not wanting to see him.  I did want to see him.  But it was a rough week.  How do I explain I just don’t trust myself with that tragedy simmering in my veins?  Would he believe it or think it was excuse to be on a date with someone else?   I thought I could pull it off.

Isn’t this PTSD crap scary enough?   I have handed over a decent amount of brutal honesty of some of my bigger sins.  These should be warning shots.  Men should know there’s more.  And there will always be more.  Even if I make mistakes in a relationship, I will likely put them in my growing tote of the “unforgiveable” and I will punish myself at some point.  It could be binge drinking, binge eating, a sacrifice or withdrawal of some sort.  They aren’t going to fight to hang onto me.  Might as well scorch the earth early on and at least I don’t get hurt in the ways I am not equipped to handle and I don’t hurt them in ways I am probably very capable of despite promising I am not.  I even have exes as friends who can be referenced to attest I should not be loved.

So it’s only fair that I dissect myself and splay open my shortcomings the way I do of very near strangers who sit across from me in a bar.  You may be thinking I have screwed up a potential relationship.  That’s the beauty of it.  I don’t even know that I have.  I highly suspect I have but I don’t know for sure.  I am actually too afraid to ask just yet because a small part of me is praying I can fix it.   But the outcome itself is irrelevant.  The behavior is still there.  The “you can’t love me, I’ve got something even worse than what I shared with you five minutes ago.”  I’ll keep going until I get my “ding” and then I know it’s working.  And I did get one “ding” that I know of.

I don’t consciously mean to slay my possibilities.  But once I’ve lit up my brain with alcohol, I can’t always control her.  An absolute beast takes over and just spews out all my nonsense and crazy.  “I don’t deserve to be loved.  I once blamed a kid for doing something he didn’t really do.  I bet I’ve had relationships you can’t stomach.  I bet you didn’t think I could drink this much.  I bet you think you’ve made a huge mistake with me.”

If it doesn’t work out.  I can’t be upset about it.  I did it to myself.  I deserve the shame.  Shame is the most familiar feeling I have ever known.  My body wears it as a shield.