You’ve come to visit once again and I must ask: why do you come around? Is it to keep me safe, to spare me from disappointment, because that would mean I failed, did not live up to expectations?
Are you Ego’s hitman? Like Mike in “Breaking Bad,” making sure I don’t fly too high, break too many rules, question beliefs I’ve discovered are imposters? You wait for a moment of weakness and then, with the precision of a trained marksman, hit the wounds that have yet to heal.
To be perfectly honest, Doubt, you remind me of my first grade teacher. All sharp corners, and suspicious eyes, grey cardigan buttoned up to her throat. She only smiled when she caught us doing something wrong, as if shaming a six-year-old was the best part of her day.
You like to take my writing, Doubt, and slash it with your red pen; no paragraph is spared and at the end, you scribble in block letters, NOT GOOD ENOUGH!x`
Oh, dear Doubt. What happened to you? Were you not loved as a child? Did your mother crumple up your drawings when you handed them to her, wide-eyed, hoping she’d pin them up right next to the window where you both could look at them over breakfast?
Did your heart close a little more when your father yanked the bright red crayon from your fingers and forbade you from ever touching the tin box of fancy crayons again?
I wish I could sit across the table form you, Doubt, and love you back into that little girl who slipped her feet into her slippers every morning without worry, who skipped down the sidewalk without care, who drank warm milk and didn’t bother to wipe the white mustache left behind. I’d call you names of endearment, take you by your shoulders and whisper: you are precious and those people are all wrong about you.
I can pinpoint the exact moment when you left all that behind. You tell me you don’t want to be reminded of those days, that those days of useless naiveté are over. “I must protect you,” you say. “I know what’s best for you,” you insist.
But I remember you now, sweet Doubt. Your name was once Trust and we’d wake up every morning, best friends, breathing each other’s exhales, and plan our day with wide eyes and enthusiasm that could light up the darkest of skies. We’d coax the dreams slumbering in my heart awake, and we believed that nothing was impossible. We did not yet know Failure, Judgment, and Jealousy. These were other countries in other galaxies.
You told me I could be anything. Remember the scrap book we made together of Yuri Gagarin and his trip to outer space? We would lie awake into the night, imagining space suits and rockets, zero gravity, and the absence of noise. We’d compose the newspaper article with the headline: FIRST WOMAN IN SPACE.
How about when we came up with the idea of crocheting my wedding dress using spools of white thread I found in grandma’s sewing basket. There was no pattern, no plan. We looped one stitch, followed by the next, excited by the prospect of creating something out of nothing for that magical day, when I’d walk down the aisle with sprigs of baby’s breath in my hair.
It is with these memories that I greet you today, Doubt. I bow down to your pain. I kiss your wounds the way a mother would her child’s skinned knee. I remove, with care, each stone you erected over the years to protect me from the arrows aimed at my heart.
I recognize you now as one of my inner children, the one with the thickest of skins, the loudest of voices, and the toughest of temperaments. I thank you for protecting me when I was weak and vulnerable, for keeping me out of harm’s way as I healed from betrayal.
It is time for you to go now, Doubt.
It is time for Trust to return to her rightful place in my heart.