reading Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.”

thinking about her inviolable garden of the inner landscape, one that we tend for our own sake–what mine would look like; how many i let in as trespassing rulers; how much is grown only to feed others. there is a small bundle of shriveled twigs in a little round of dirt at the center. waiting.

does my garden look ok? did i make it right? won’t you please say it’s wonderful? how i long to be able to say, with calm certainty, “it’s mine! it’s mine! it’s all mine!”

they gave me this patch as a satellite only. i must keep the gates open; ask permission; need approval; give away my prettiest blooms; be safety net, ego prop, and mother. they taught me to grow the grandest, shapeliest things, just not for me–how selfish, how greedy, how ridiculous of me to want. it’s hard not to believe them when the alternative is the cessation of a mother, breaking of the family, emotional violence.

all these years of emotional turmoil and growth. does it come down to boundaries? i need a room of my own, but i learned to treat myself by what they said about me. control and belittle, control and belittle, with random sprinkles of admiration for my ability to please. it’s hard not to listen when they loved me, and needed me to love them back.

be kind. listen. to yourself. i don’t need to be revered. i don’t need to be complimented. i just need a place to do whatever the hell i want. i can have strings of shriveled balloons in here if i so choose.

perfectionism is the manifestation of worry; the cost of control is missing the magic of how things really are.

listen. listen. listen.