I remembered once Nigella Lawson said she has stored her dark, sad memories in a box after the death of her husband. If so, let this blank template be my morbid box.
Criticism is always difficult to deal with, like a mischievous rattlesnake that comes by, rattling its melody that catches me off guard as it injects its poisonous virus into me.
And I will tell you, this warped virus already crept into my life since childhood.
Perhaps, I have the gifts that an empath brings, and it is oh-so easy to absorb others’ gnash of anger or sadness or frustration as they criticize, and I balloon their tales into my life. Perhaps, because my perception is built in a defense – criticism means I am not doing well – I must be horrible and have done something gravely wrong that cannot satisfy you – oh dear..
That was the perfectionist days when I played the golden child. With anxiety diagnosis, a gift that I lost was prioritizing. Instead, it turned reactionary in the twisted formula that I must try to complete everything to make it productive, and I do not know how to handle the tasks I have anymore.
But the criticism has not been dealt with. And the philosophy of simplicity is hard to embrace when ads bombard us with more is more. And I fell prey to the status game.
Of course, by then I have a two-headed snake to handle.
When I had a reminder email from work today – my morbid box exploded. I could not soothe myself. I was not strong enough.
But a conversation with my mother made me remember the source of it all – when my kindergarten teacher screamed at me for pouring a bottle of glue because the lid was congested, and made statements how all girls were supposed to be good at crafts with the exception of me who could not handle anything but make a mess of myself.
It made me felt how worthless I am, how I must have been terrible at crafts and to face glares of the class was daunting and humiliating.
The fear of crafts lasted a very long time. So did the twisted, warped snake of criticism.
My therapist has taught me to use legitimate anger which has solved half the puzzle, but this is the other half.
While I can always associate snake as a manipulative animal, it is created. I choose to nourish the snake and heal the hurting wounds as I partake in conversations to see different points of view, knowing that I am emotionally weak when faced with criticism.
It is just like faith that has no absolutes. How easy it would be if Christianity is simply a book of rights and wrongs. I was taught it was when I first converted. That aside from love, om it is obedience and perhaps to join this and do that. I won’t say the programs aren’t great, there are a lot of homeless and vulnerable who have been helped and loved. They are awesome people.
But when my questions about the controversial issues – the violent passages in the Bible, the interfaith relationships and homosexuality, or my lack of involvement arose – it was a closet departure from Evangelicalism. There were no absolutes anymore, because more praying and more plugging in do not work anymore. I left with questions. A lot of them. Many that I still try to tackle.
I had many of the experiences that Kathy Escobar detailed in her book “Faith Shift”, as did some of J.Dana Trent’s “The Saffron Cross”. I still have many questions just as I have lots of healing to do with facing criticism, but healing is like a cycle of faith, and it has enlightened me to see the need for self-care and reflection to fill my love tank.
My love has reminded me to embrace my imperfect self, and just as I try to nourish that snake and have conversations with the jungle, I hope you do too.