Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

We hate what we fear — or at least have very strong feelings of hostility toward that which we fear. So my fear of men has lots of hostility in it. Stop this!! I hereby take a vow that between now and January 1, 1972, I will not indulge in anymore negative analyzing. I may not have any control over my feelings but I can certainly decide what thoughts I’m going to entertain. Each day for the rest of this month I’m going to write a positive thought in this book.

Trust the Holy Spirit.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

How can I stay in my Adult and still not take things (and especially myself) too seriously? My predominating image of an adult is someone who is rather grim and stern. And worse than that, cynical and hard. Sometimes when I am this way I’m very uncomfortable. But my image of a child is distorted, too — a weak, dependent, insecure, frightened little person. Both these images are based on feelings.

Somewhere in the shadows I catch a glimpse of an adult who is warm and gay, compassionate, trusting, courageous. Once in awhile I feel this way and am able to act accordingly.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

Last night I was thinking about the old question: Is it a matter of enjoying life if I could or if I would? I would if I could, or I could if I would? That can really get confusing, but I decided it was probably the latter. Because every time something good and hopeful and exciting comes along, I either reject it completely, or put off acting upon it — instead of saying yes! and latching on. I’m letting despair and boredom dominate my life. I seem determined to reject all of God’s great gifts. All of a sudden I realized how stupid I’m being — and how hard I’ve been working just to be miserable! “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Now I know (just as I’ve known many times before and lost) what my part is — not to make any great effort to be worthy of God’s love, not to hand everything to God in a neat package, but simply to accept. God gives; we accept His gifts. And our lives are changed, transformed by the glorious power of His love and joy and peace.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

Lord, if I could only relax and enjoy life. Pickett signed his letter “we wish you happiness and laughter and peace.” And that’s what I wish for my family and myself. But there’s always (nearly) this holding back inside me, this feeling that happiness occasions, it won’t last. And it’s not a superficial happiness I want — everything going along smoothly, no problems — it’s the deep joy and peace of experiencing God’s love and acceptance and presence.

It’s as if I’m forever saying “no” to life, to love, to happiness and peace, to good feelings and good things.

Is it because I really enjoy being miserable and lonely and unhappy? Maybe so. But that’s just as much of a prison as being miserable because of deeply ingrained feelings of unworthiness, etc.

Both of my parents had a good sense of humor and I remember many happy times when I was a child. But they were also grimly serious about the evils of drinking and “too much” social life, and that it wasn’t right to enjoy extra comforts when some people are starving or homeless.

I think I feel that it’s somehow wrong to be happy or to enjoy life when there’s so much suffering in the world. Even though this isn’t logical because my being miserable is only adding to the suffering, not alleviating it.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

I can’t decide whether I need to keep trying to “think things through” or to stop trying. The latter is something I can’ seem to will to do — it just happens from time to time. So maybe it is necessary to keep seeking new insights — who knows what is going on in our subconscious minds? Insights affect feelings and I guess feelings have a lot to do with being able to relax and trust — so when it seems impossible to stop trying, I’ll plow on. But I always wonder whether this is the leading of the Holy Spirit — or whether He wants me just to be still and wait.

I’m afraid I feel that God can’t heal me until I understand all the whys and wherefores of my fears, hang-ups, etc. etc.

This sounds so familiar — I’m forever getting stuck in this rut!

Some insights came a few days ago and I kept putting off thinking about it — now it’s nearly gone. It had something to do with my not wanting to be around people I know — especially in a public place like the grocery store. I don’t mind people as long as I don’t know them and so don’t feel any obligation to speak or carry on a conversation — I often wish I were invisible so that I could just go about my business without anyone noticing me. Is that because I’m so afraid of people’s acceptance? so afraid of not measuring up, of letting them down?

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

Insights often come when I get up in the night to go to the bathroom — when I’m not quite awake. This popped into my head the night before last — I’m afraid to be myself in the most basic relationship of all — with Harold. Just as I was afraid to be myself with my parents as a child. Because every time I tried to assert my independence I was punished — often by the “deep freeze,” which was the most devastating form, I guess. Everything was fine as long as I was a sweet, docile, obedient, completely dependent little girl. No wonder I lost my identity and began to feel like an appendage of my mother. There was often a sense of unreality about everything.

Which is the way I feel now with Harold. We’re playing a game about ignoring his drinking problem — pretending it doesn’t exist. Even when I have faced it and confronted him, he denies the problem and we start playing the game again. We’re both acting like children. The other day I determined that the next time I saw him coming out of the closet with a glass or heard him closing the drawer where he keeps his bottle I was going to tell him very calmly and without anger or judgment that I knew what he was doing and that I just had to be honest about it. But did I? — no, it was like it always has been — he looks like a little boy who thinks he’s getting by with something and it would be cruel of me to make him face reality. I’ve always been chicken-hearted — could never bear to show anyone up or see them put on the spot. At least not someone I cared about so maybe I really do love Harold.

No, maybe it’s not that I care so much as it is that I’m afraid. Because we played games when I was a child — Mother and Daddy and I — but being a timid, insecure child I never had the courage to call them. I feel the same way now, even though I’m a grown woman and Harold is my husband, not my father.

Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

This little bit of self-understanding came through a magazine story I was reading in the dentist’s office a few days ago. The woman was remembering her childhood (as an only child) — how her father’s and mother’s moods would change from morning to night or from one day to the next, and especially their silent moods when she thought she had done something to anger them. Sometimes she was afraid to go out and walk down the street because everyone she met might fall silent when they saw her. Later her parents separated and she learned that they had only stayed together when she was a child to give her a home. I think the same might have been true of my parents. Not knowing how they were going to react or be from one day to the next, and feeling no doubt that I was to blame, I guess that could account for my inability to really trust another person. And my fear of rejection — and acceptance because I was afraid to trust the acceptance. That’s it!!