I Make People Feel Bad, Part 2 (55)

I make people feel bad. I’ve lost friends over it, again and again through the decades. Over the last year or so I’ve begun to be able to admit this, to see it with more clarity, to begin to face it. Even as I move my pen across the page I am braced for the self-loathing, but it doesn’t come, not the way it used to. Sometimes it comes still in one big wave, trying to swamp me, making me clench in rage, wanting to die, like that last time Sable wouldn’t come inside, and I yelled at him from the doorway. He sat hunched over in the courtyard staring at me with his big green eyes. I felt it all then, how much I hated myself for what I was doing to him. It was the last time I yelled at him, something I’ve clung to in my grief. Thank god I stopped yelling at him in those last months before he died. Other things still trigger that wave, but the feelings are momentary now, and it doesn’t sink me anymore, doesn’t tumble me around underwater, sand in my mouth, unable to breathe. It doesn’t get all of me anymore. I think enough of me stays separate, watches from somewhere further up the shoreline, refuses to relinquish herself, my feet in dry sand now. I think little by little I’ve healed enough to not be taken over by my self-hatred, and that healing has let me begin to face the fact that I am mean to the people I love. I can turn toward that now, maybe even say it out loud, look at it in daylight. I can do this now without being pulled down by that dark, terrifying wall of water. May I keep learning to be tender to myself, so I can be more tender to all the beings in my life. May I let go of my remorse, all that damage, all that time lost, too. May I forgive myself. May I learn now how to make the ones I love feel good.

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