You think by now I would have given up
in my attempts to keep you from
swallowing up my life;
it’s not a fight I can win, I know that –
but some mulishly stubborn part of me
still insists it has free will
(a concept I should have accepted as absurd
when I left Catholicism) –
and can tell You ‘no’.
In the end, it always comes down to
whose will is greater, which of us is more stubborn,
and we both know the answer to that
(and the answer is not ‘me’).
Nevertheless, I persist:
not wanting to watch You whittle away at
the list of things I enjoy,
the list of things that have nothing to do with You,
turning it into a list of things
I am allowed to partake in.
Your commands have already started
to abridge my diet,
taking away small consolations I could manage in my poverty.
Nor is that all; You challenge me,
Standing behind me to push me into bravery,
shoving me outside my comfort zone,
because the outcome will be better for me in the end,
no matter how much these things terrify me in the now.
I watched You dismantle my marriage,
though I didn’t know that’s what was happening then,
and I understand it now with the perspective of time–
whatever good things I might have
thought about my husband at that point,
I can see in hindsight were illusion,
and had turned me into something
small and stunted and afraid to test boundaries,
and I am so much stronger now.
That doesn’t mean I am whole, of course;
I know that I can’t make myself believe
what I need to believe to be fixed
–that I have worth, that I am loved–
I don’t know how deep the damage goes,
I only know it is the product of a lifetime
of people telling me that I was inept, useless,
incapable of doing things that even children could do,
that I was not good enough to be what they wanted,
that I had no worth in the eyes of anyone at all.
Which brings me to the question that still lingers,
almost ten years after You claimed me as Yours:
Why would You want to own something like me?
So flawed, so limited, so weak?
The pat answer, the easy answer, the one I have heard most often,
the answer that numerous friends tell me,
is that You needed another skald,
and I do confess, without any false modesty,
to some skill with words–
maybe my only skill.
But that feels disingenuous, and incomplete,
And even if it turns out to be true,
I don’t think it’s the whole truth;
Then again, I understand these days, after
being Yours for some time,
that it’s likely I may never know the whole truth,
just as I may never know the whole You;
You have so many faces, so many names,
You are—if not infinite—then certainly, obviously greater
than any mere mortal could be,
and I find I am accepting of that,
which is as it should be when dealing with gods.
That doesn’t mean I don’t still wonder, of course,
but just as I will never know
what a sunset looks like on Jupiter,
and can live without that knowledge,
I don’t need to know why You picked me–
it would be nice to know, reassuring, calming,
and it would answer a question I’ve had for years,
but I can live without that answer;
even if I had it,
I might not be able to make myself believe it,
because that is the nature of the damage that is my soul:
it is enough to know, in the end,
only that You did choose me,
and that has to be good enough for me.