I ran out of credit for my data stick this morning and the shop next door had the door open, so I went in. I never used to go in there. It’s a very small shop and unlikely to have everything I need and I used to be shy about going into a shop just to see what they had.

I have realized part of the reason for this actually, which is that with Nata there was a certain amount of pressure to always buy something if we went into a shop. Like we couldn’t go to the drug store and leave empty handed, or they would think we came to shoplift, and the elderly security guard would search Nata’s purse and tell her to open the small bag she kept feminine hygiene things in even though he’d looked in it before and knew what was in there and this was all excruciatingly embarrassing.

But I bought national dress from that shop last week, so relations are warm these days.

Anyway, I went in, and the shopkeeper wasn’t there. There were just two little kids sitting there. So I poked my head in the back, which I’d never done before, and there was an old man eating his breakfast, and I nodded at him and poked my head back out again and momentarily the shopkeeper appeared and I bought recharge vouchers from her. Then she wanted to give me tea and I mumbled something probably unintelligible because actually I would be late if I took tea, and only realized later I could say what I needed to say in the National Language completely fine if I had tried. I just forgot I happened to know the verb for “go.” I know four verbs in the National Language, but I’m not clear how to conjugate them all. I just know commands. But people ask you where you are going all the time as a greeting, so I might know how to say “I am going.”

Nonetheless, I refused tea and took a cough drop instead and off I went to school.

The point of all that is to point out a difference in my level of confidence. I did not psyche myself up for this exchange or force myself to put on a confident act. I just saw the door open and went inside. I saw the shopkeeper not there, and poked my head into their kitchen. And none of that would have happened naturally three weeks ago. I have changed. It might not be a permanent change in confidence—these things wax and wane—but it’s a wax that has never happened before.

Also, I have been bathing regularly again: the last few weeks have been particularly difficult in the mornings and bathing became maybe an irregular, twice-weekly affair.

Ruthie, however, really likes baths. She likes them because she likes being clean, but she also likes the memories associated with bathtime. These days, I start pouring hot water over myself, and I get these lovely memories of Nata lathering me up. And it makes me feel so worthwhile. I really do dry off with this wonderful sense of being valued.

Healing is a dialectic. This is something I have realized about the whole process. I think I used to mostly have days where I felt terrible and then maybe shut it off for a while and felt normal and then went back to terrible. The terrible was very loud, so mostly, I noticed that.

Now, I notice going back and forth between terrible and sort of nice, and usually about the same topics. I felt worthless washing the dishes—something gets triggered in the kitchen sometimes, I think it might just be looking down at things and the bent position of my neck—and then I took a bath and felt valued. That’s because I am integrating this topic of self-esteem, and because I am in parts, I have radically different and incompatible associations and thoughts about it. The point is to keep feeling them so that eventually they get kind of put together.

The shop was the other side of the dialectic too. I got this lovely friendly smile from the shopkeeper, and an offer of tea, and I realized she valued me too. I mean, I think actually she likes me as a person.

I realized a lot of people value me. Maybe to widely varying degrees and not even everyone, but people in my life now value me for my me-ness and not just for what I do, or even for certain good character traits. But just because I am my own unique person.

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