Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Blemishless soul

Dear Ms. Magnolia,

I'm going to confess my sins to you now... the sins of a shamefaced debtor who lives of the fringes of normal society.

When I was a child, I was exposed to some rather fucked up die-hard Catholics. Among many of the other misleading and ridiculous notions they introduced me to was the idea that when we are born our souls are spotless and pure. As we grow (and sin) each sin adds a stain to our otherwise pure-white souls. These staunch Catholics asserted that the only way to revert to a state of purity was to go to confession.

It's a racket really. I've always thought of my credit rating as being the real-world version of my soul. I would be judged solely upon my credit history; however, I couldn't really go to confession. I would have to wait seven years for these transgressions to be erased (sort of) from my credit rating. It seems rather ironic then that I would finally check my credit rating on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the forty day period of atonement in the Catholic Church. I never did this out of fear of what I might find. Oh my god, it's like she's admitting that she has a venereal disease. She has bad credit. Oh my god!

I feel like the Mary Magdalene, who's ready to cry her eyes out on the some lender's dirty feet- I want to be the patron saint of debtors everywhere. Actually, I don't have irresolvable credit. I had a bit of a wrangling with loan payments in my past. I was in denial of not having a job or enough money. I could go on and make excuses about how I would sort of shuffle the loan statements I received under a stack of J Crew Catalogues and Radio Shack flyers. It was wrong. I should have known better, and now I have revealed the ugly nature of my sins as a borrower.

I guess my behavior followed the classic patterns of denial and shame. Eventually, I dealt with the problem of straightening out my finances, when I was confronted with it. However, I continued to feel terribly bad. I never checked my credit rating until recently despite constant warnings from co-workers. You wouldn't understand, I though ruefully to myself. "You're the perfect consumer with spotless credit." My self-perception and self-esteem spiraled. I payed off my other bills and eventually I straightened things out with my loan, but I always felt that I would never outrun my old sins. This financial carelessness, I admit was immature. The denial that created the predicament was a symptom of my low self-esteem at the time. I honestly didn't feel that I could live like good, honestly, and financially responsible people.

Now, I realize that there are those people who would read this confession and laugh at my admission here and think that my behavior was pitiful. Some might even think that I was born without some basic common sense. I hate to admit it now, but I was suffering and still suffer from an almost Seinfeldian neurosis that other people's perception of me (including the 10% who think that they are always on the straight/righteous/correct path- I like to think of them as the ritey-rights or RR's) determined my behavior. Also, there was a part of me that felt that I would never be 'good enough' to qualify as a decent and responsible person. I was a bad girl, who lived on the edge of decency, and this 'bad girl' persona manifested it in all the terrible choices I made: I was a smoker; I often chose to stay in dead-end and even mentally abusive relationships; I didn't pay my student loan on time.

This is really a strange thing for me to admit. Me, who always felt the need to give those ritey-rights the finger for being terribly uptight and judgmental about others, but on the other hand each day I'm realizing that the only person who truly has control over my life is - me. Surprise! I am the only person who can truly choose to love myself enough to make the right decisions from now on.

I feel that breath of relief when I admit that. I just have to wait and battle out the feelings of self-doubt that attack me periodically. So I have to pre-emptively stop the neurotic hump in the rollercoaster ride of my self-perception where I bash myself for not being so savvy in the first place.

Yours,
Imogene.

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