I’ve been working on letting people in a bit more. Being a bit more open, a bit more vulnerable. Being a bit more human, a bit more real.
It’s easy to do that in writing. But I’ve been trying to do it in real life as well – where I can see people’s faces, hear the tone of their voice, witness their responses. Hear my own voice talking about the experiences of the last ten years, rather than just the gentle rain-like patter of my laptop’s keyboard.
And here’s the unexpected by-product of letting people in: sometimes they want to do nice things for you. Sometimes they want to do something to alleviate, just a little bit, the injustices you’ve experienced. Sometimes they want to redress the balance in your favour. In my favour. And I have to accept that. I have to be gracious enough to allow that. To allow people’s generosity, and esteem; to allow them to care for me.
Which is scary. Not because I have lied, or kept secrets, or manipulated. Not because people’s kindness might be twisted and used against me. Not because I might be found out, or punished, by the person for whom me having friends was a great threat, and therefore not allowed. Not because of any danger to me. It is scary because (and this sentence has taken about four minutes so far to write: I’m procrastinating because even the words are scary) it means I’m worth something to them. Which means I’m worth something in general.
This is not a fishing expedition. I know that I’m worth something to people: this is not a request to hear it again. It’s just that I’m not used to that yet. And it’s a big thing to get my head around. In some ways, it would be easier if I was just worthless. Then I wouldn’t have to shine in the world. But if I am worth something then I not only have to get that fact through my skull, I also have to live it. I have to live as a creation of the Creator, manifesting the Source of all life in my flawed and beautiful human way. And if that’s true, then it means I have to treat myself with respect. Not just in the easy, boring ways: eat well, get plenty of sleep, put the right things into my body – but in the ways that are difficult. In upholding myself as worthy of safety, but also worthy of respect and love. My own respect, my own love.
After ten years of learning that my soul is not worthy of love, I’m learning that not only is it worth loving, but that I have to love it – myself. I feel like I’ve just been told to treasure a used tissue, or an empty Coke can. But other people value the used tissue/empty Coke can/human being that is Naomi, and they can’t all be wrong, can they?