I need a saint.
There is a woman I keep in my head, an echo of a real human, whom I am ashamed of thinking about. I don’t imagine sex with her, but talking companionably. I read or see something and imagine myself saying something about it to her. Occasionally I torture myself with the real human’s social media.
Philippa Perry writes, “Humans can feel we don’t exist if we live unwitnessed”. I don’t imagine this person saying anything to me, particularly, just being in my company with a friendly manner. I imagine not being alone, and not needing to present a face to another- to be allowed to be me. Then I am aware of my loneliness, and ashamed, because I am ashamed of just about everything.
My Episcopalian background made little of saints. We prayed to God. Jesus is human, but superhuman, able to cure disease by touch or even by the thought of him (for Jairus, if not for most of those people praying about cancer right now). I might imagine a Greek, Mesopotamian or Egyptian god, entirely on my side, or a Bodhisattva.
If I know what the echo achieves for me- I imagine being witnessed- I might construct a better way of achieving that. My new fantasy woman is Mary Magdalene. She is immortal: two thousand years old but still looks like this.
If she were my saint, someone in my head I could talk to occasionally, I might imagine her as portrayed in Dirk Bouts’ The Entombment. She is practical. She is a tower of strength in the darkness.
ACA advises us to awaken an inner loving parent. What would the loving parent say? Well, what would I say to the loving parent? I am ashamed. I am afraid.
Mary Magdalene accompanied Jesus. She suffered powerlessly as he went to his death. Then she had the great insight which founded the Christian church- “He is not here”. Jesus lives in our hearts and memories and what we know of Him. He is not in the past, but the present.
Then she was traduced by Patriarchy. How did she reach that insight? The Gospels say, a man told her. The church called her a prostitute. In so many paintings she contemplates death. Yet she survives. She is a tower of strength, just what I need.
I say “I am ashamed” and my inner critical parent says, so you should be. About everything. I say “I am afraid”, and the critical parent says how useless I am. There is nothing to be afraid of. Get on with it. My own personal saint might say, “Yes. Do not worry about it,” and give me a consoling cuddle. Or take me by the hand. I imagine myself a child with her. Mary has the strength and experience to witness and accept all that I am, so that I might, too. Yes, I am co-dependent. No, that does not make for good relationships. It might be better if I could deal with it in my own head.
Everyone? Even a successful straight cis white male might have parts of himself he denies or is too ashamed to show. Unable to bear living with myself, I might confess to Mary, who would absolve me.