Another little egoo storm showed up yesterday. I wanted to share something important with a friend yet I was afraid it might hurt him. It felt urgent for me to tell him this yet I was literally crying so hard I could barely type my message to him. I finally got it out yet I was sobbing like a baby while I did it- why? Well, I let myself weep until it passed and then asked why. I recognized that old false belief sticking it's knife into me- that I have to be good 24/7, angelic, holy, sweet, kind, artificial, false, fake. Yea, they go together. I was raised Catholic and literally feared the fire and brimstone of hell. When I was about 8 my friend's 6 year old sister did a strip tease as a joke. I decided afterwards that to watch it was a mortal sin- hell. I was too scared to confess it- another mortal sin and went to church, taking communion with a mortal sin on my soul. Since I was at a Catholic school that was mass 6 times a week, 5 in school and one on Sunday. I was too afraid to confess, thinking the priest would think I was sooo evil. This lasted over two years. I truly believed that if I died I would go straight to hell- that is the rule if you die with a mortal sin on your soul. I finally confessed it just by listing the commandment- forget which one, and saying nothing further to the priest as I was way to ashamed. Now imagine me, 10 years old, sitting outside the confession and quaking in terror and shame- nice way to imprint some negative cellular memory, creating contraction and “pain-body.” The priest asked me how many times I'd gone to mass and confession with this mortal sin on my soul- now this was a nice guy. He came to our house on Sunday mornings after church and had blueberry pancakes with us. I used to love to go to communion on the days we had those pancakes before church, sticking out my purple tongue and imagining him fainting away in horror wondering if I had the purple tongue disease. So he tried to help me out, asking me if it was five times? ten times? yea yea I mumbled. Now since it was more like a 1000 communions and 100 confessions, I was still a little short with my confession, meaning I am still walking around with about 1000 mortal sins. Now don't worry about it if you don't get the Catholic rules, I am sure you get the feeling- terror!! I will go to hell. So I tried to be extra good and pray that might make up for my evil nature. So no wonder I still have had the gotta be good thing. Plus if I wasn't good at home I was afraid my father would kill me- my biggest source of terror. Now this is the recipe of a good but false kid- me. So I declare myself free now and forever. I am going to go out and be extra naughty and see if I survive- wish me luck.
Below is a poem that was critical in helping me release this belief when I first spotted it years ago. In fact reading it helped me wake up to this particular aspect of my self hatred-realizing I was never GOOD ENOUGH. May it help any of you self haters wake up from that lie.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver