In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel (The Scarlet Letter) about a woman (Hester Prynne) in the 17th century forced to wear a scarlet “A” for her crime of adultery and sent to prison for not giving up the name of her lover (spoiler alert: it's the town minister) Truth is, the way people gossip and speak of the imperfect humans that we all tend to be. Before any holier than thou self righteous zealot pipes up let me remind you of Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There. That out of the way now I continue. The letter was pointless. She knew what she did. The town did too. Hello? Baby daughter born while husband was away for two years.
When thinking about this piece of literature I started to reflect on my life. (I'm doing a lot of that considering I'm about to complete my 40th rotation around the sun in a few days) I realize that I tend to persecute myself a lot. I force myself to don my red “A” for everything I feel ashamed for. My “A” one day for my bouts of anxiety that I just know everyone can see and it cripples me so badly that sometimes I have driven myself on Sundays all the way to church parked the car and have been unable to get out. Frozen with fear even though I know it's a loving community and a group that has always accepted me and shown me love. I fear to disappoint in some way and panic my way back to my house and hide beneath the covers to hide the self branded “A” blazing on my chest.
Some days I wear an “S” for stupidity because I don't feel smart enough so I keep quiet in hopes others wont realize my ineptitude in all things. Or the days I feel unattractive and stamp the big red “U” for ugly. There are days I can fight through it and parade myself around in my self prosecution as penance.
Truth is my history would sew such a letter on my person, not for adultery but for guilt. Before my father died I shared some information with my parents about my childhood. At the age of 4 or 5 I was taken into the woods near my house where I was beaten and raped. Just had to take a break from this blog posting to quell a panic attack. This is me naked. I promised not to leave a stone unturned in this venture of truth, self discovery, and becoming a better me. I knew this was going to be some heavy excrement when I sat down to do this today and I'm already shaking.
Like Hester I refused to name the boys involved because for the most part they were also still children and I still have a sense of pity for them. They know what they did and sad to say my dishonor happened quite frequently afterward with other neighborhood boys who received word and sans original beating I endured by staring into space and usually vomiting afterward. My self hate grew and thrived easily subsequently and it became it's own being melding itself into me. I still struggle. I purge trying to make myself empty. Another form of penance. I also have a history of self injury burning lines or words into my skin making my scarlet “A” more permanent. I will go for days without sleep. This usually, is followed by depression where all I do is sleep and refuse to execute any form of self care. Why am I writing about this? Because I need to tell my secret. It gives it less power. Maybe this encasing of darkness that coats me will start to melt away. I don't cry often. I'm quite numb sometimes but if I can learn that form of release maybe I can stop the ritualistic self harm I do. I'm not proud of it and I will probably hide out for a bit after posting this. I will return. But until then, rip off your own scarlet “A”. We are all human and beautifully imperfect. Self prosecution only stunts your growth and robs people of the gift you are.