This past week I’ve finally completed the rough draft on a short story I’ve been working on for a couple of months. My goal is to try to sell it, because it’s a step in a positive direction in my life. I haven’t had an income for many years now. Any progress is a huge win for me.
A couple days ago, I was told that some people had been praying for me, specifically to help me write. Although it was offered as a sort of encouragement, I didn’t receive it as such. Fortunately I was able to politely change the subject, but the damage was already done. From there on out, if I produce something, religious people in my life are going to tell me it’s an invisible friend helping me along. If I don’t, there’s going to be some sort of personal failing on my part.
This is still a sore subject for me, I’ve discovered.
The whole purpose of me trying to sell a short story is to try to start believing in myself. If I’m being completely honest, one of the reasons I’m blocked on a novel I’m close to finishing is because I have to regularly convince myself that I don’t write complete shit. Growing up in a religious household has provided me with ample opportunities to tear my self worth down and replace it with nothing.
Prayer is a pretty obvious vehicle for this. It’s so easy to just believe I can’t accomplish anything on my own, that some invisible force must be the font of all that’s good in my life. Instead of getting encouragement from people, I’m going to get assurances that I can’t take full credit for whatever I do. I’m still a worthless piece of shit that’s produced nothing of value. How dare I think I can do otherwise.
The remedy for overcoming this isn’t easy, either.
I’ve got a few options. One is that I can argue with people who decide I’m incapable of putting words together in an entertaining fashion. A second is that I can try to ignore everyone who thinks Jesus (or any other deity for that matter) is my ghostwriter. Another is that I can try to stop feeling robbed every time a person makes the attempt.
The last one is the one I’d like the most, but it’s the hardest to achieve. A rational part of me questions why I need to get upset at all. It shouldn’t matter what they believe; my beliefs on my own abilities are what need to change and improve. They cannot rob me of my self-esteem if I do not give it away.
This is such a difficult thing to remember, especially in an environment where I’m around people who insist otherwise. People who try to break me with prayer sometimes do so intentionally. One very real goal of the faithful is to let a target know the pressure is on. The thinking is that not only will this magical wish come true, but that it serves as an excuse for any other idea that might encourage bending the knee to an invisible friend.
That said, I feel that I must insist on the idea that I cannot be hijacked if I do not give it away. I am not the puppet of some cosmic sentience with a human snow globe. There isn’t any hard evidence people can point to that demonstrates their wishes grant a divine effect on reality.
And that shall have to be enough for now.