I am the girl who smiles at you from across the hallway, head bent toward the floor, cheeks pink from the cold air outside and the red flush running through my veins. I am the girl who knows sorry better than “so what?”, who knows not what she apologizes for, who does not take a second step into the deep abyss of trouble without a battery-operated flashlight and a group of equally-terrified best friends.
I am the girl who once believed a smile would be enough. But it is not.
Tea drinkers might tell you they’re addicted to caffeine. They probably won’t say it’s the warmth from inside that spreads to their toes on an unseasonable October afternoon. They probably won’t tell you it’s the sound of a clinking spoon against a handspun ceramic mug. They probably won’t tell you it’s the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.
Because a spoonful of sugar is not so sweet.
For weeks, I’ve felt like someone is shoving a spoonful of sugar into my mouth and making me swallow it. Like he or she is grabbing hold of me, duct-tapping my butt to the swivel chair in front of my desk, and demanding I read accounts of girls who struggled with something and overcame it, who said “no thank you” when it came to what they wanted because to say yes would be a sin.
And I spent one, two, seventeen years going to church every Sunday. I ran away for the same reason I’m feeling sick to my stomach now: I felt overwhelmed, almost nauseated, by the intensity of it all. By the idea that I had to be perfect always always always. Stand on the tips of my toes and reach upward and hope I might be better tomorrow because today I am still imperfect.
Today, I am still imperfect. Tomorrow, too, I’ll rise from my bed and begin the two-week trek to the end of this semester. I’ll screw up, get mad, spend money when I shouldn’t. I’ll eat dessert and lounge on the couch all afternoon and let the people in my life do the same without feeling like it all comes back to God.
Let it come back to Him. Let it. Let me here you tell me something about why I’ve felt like I’ve been through the ringer these last four years. Come on, grab your paper bag of granulated sugar and your metal spoon and let’s stand in my kitchen so you can force feed me the keys to happiness, tell me I’m doing it all wrong, that I’m being punished for not stretching myself thin.
Victoria wrote a post two weeks ago that I just got around to reading, and I could not stop scanning the page in awe. She has guts. She laid it out for anyone willing to listen. And I just wanted to thank her.
Reminding me that there is no perfect Christian. That I’m allowed to sleep at night. To live with myself. To drink my tea sweetened. To cross the line that so many have told me, again and again, I should be ashamed for crossing. I am not. I cannot be.
I’ll do what is right by me and I’ll vow to never shove a scoop of religion down someone’s throat. Because the only way to steer me from it is to push a plateful in front of me and make me eat every last morsel Matilda style.