bunt sign

Saturday, May 5, 2001

My latest psychological breakthrough should have been obvious. It occurred to me this afternoon when I was elbow-deep in blackberry brambles that I'm doing this for no one but myself. I shouldn't expect anyone to notice the work I put into making the yard look better, because no matter how much I do it still looks wild.

Not just wild, but overgrown to the point of neglect. If you drop by, you'll notice the weeds before anything else. It'll look as if no one cared about it.

To a degree, that's true. I've learned not to care what anyone thinks about how it looks. I don't want it to be a showcase. I have no interest in manicured lawns or artfully designed landscaping. I don't even care about splashes of color, because the green of the grasses and trees is so soothing.

What I really want is a place where I can find some peace, where a few healthy plants grow, and where birds feel comfortable. I want them to keep coming back. I can't have pets here, so the birds are my companions. I sit out on the back porch and chirp back at the baby phoebes, and chatter with the jays. (Really.)

Every so often I get checked out by a hummingbird, while I'm sitting outside peacefully reading my book. I don't know if they're nearsighted birds, or just confused, but sometimes they'll come up and look me in the face. They don't try to suck any pollen out of me, so it's not as freaky as it could be. And they give the same treatment to the wooden wind chimes, before they move on to the feeder.

It's not as if I get many (human) visitors anyway. Every so often someone from the family will drop by, and I'd like the place to look nice for them. And maybe some day I'll take the next step, and try to turn the yard into a showplace. I just don't see that happening, and I can't look that far ahead. There's too much to keep me busy in the meantime.

If only I could translate this serene acceptance into the rest of my life. I've always been too aware of others' eyes on me, even when I had no reason to think anyone was looking.

This low self-esteem business is a double-edged sword. At the same time I'm feeling that no one could possibly care what I think or do, I'm hiding in the corner so I can't be seen by anyone. I never think people want to hear my contribution to a discussion, but I'm still so aware of everything I say that it's as if a microphone and spotlight appear as soon as I open my mouth.

It's narcissistic to believe that anyone places so much value on my words that they would judge me for the least mistake or slip-up. It wasn't until junior high, when I first learned that I didn't know everything, that I started feeling this way.

I was always shy, but after the first few times I was laughed at, without knowing why, I withdrew completely. I rarely got involved in class discussions, and I never volunteered an answer, just in case I might be wrong, or I might say it wrong, or my voice might sound funny. I became invisible, and that suited me fine.

whole lotta yellow irises that I didn't plant

I never came completely out of the shell I retreated into, way back then. My first real job after college, at a shoe store in Sebastopol, gave me some confidence in dealing with people I didn't know. I learned that I could speak with confidence and relate to strangers in that kind of setting.

This journal has helped me find a voice as well. More importantly, it's helped me realize that I can say what's on my mind without embarrassing myself (even when maybe I should be embarrassed).

I've revealed more of myself here than in any relationship I've ever had. I've discovered that the people who care enough to read are going to be on my side more often than not (even when they disagree with an opinion I express). I can't tell you how much that's changed the way I feel about myself. I never felt that I had that before now, and I'll never stop being grateful for it.

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