My palms were clammy, a sign that I would soon burst out in sweat. I called out to God. That was the norm, I only called Him when I was in trouble and I would say “Lord, I know I’ve been selfish and I never pray but if you help me out this one time, I’d never sin again”. As if it was possible to never sin again. I’m not even sure I believed in the prayer, but for some reason it felt like He kept to His side of the bargain, and I didn’t.
I would feel guilty for a couple of days, never up to a week, just days and then I’d be over it. But today was different. Sure it was a familiar feeling, there was adrenalin at the back of my tongue (yes, I could taste it). And there was wishful thinking, the ‘I wish I didn’t’ and the ‘I should have’. I would wonder for a bit why I made such a stupid mistake and at the same time weigh options in my head for the best solution with the least casualty while vowing never to make such a mistake again and calling myself the most hideous names as a way to punish me but mostly to calm my nerves. If there was a way to measure self-hate, surely I would break the scale. Basically, my whole body would vibrate at the thought of what I had just done.
What I really couldn’t get over was the feeling, not even the consequence. The way my body behaved when I got into trouble was strangely familiar. I hated it. Was I distressed because of the punishment that awaited me or was it because I failed to be shy on the second bite? Now I would expect that bigger problems had a bigger way of making you feel idiotic but I couldn’t tell the difference from how I felt in different situations or for different mistakes. I felt the same way when I broke mother’s china at age 10, as I felt when I almost died in an auto-crash last year; maybe because in both episodes, at those ages, those events were the height. The only difference was that with every new mistake, there was a bigger sense of ‘stupid’ and the past one didn’t seem all that bad after all. This is my fascination. In the midst of the mind commotion, this is what I pondered. You should feel worse for mistakes with bigger consequences, shouldn’t you?
My heart would drop to my stomach and double in its beat, my speech distorted and my thoughts, partially blocked. Like Cher, turning-back-time in my head and playing the scenario like it should have gone. I would feel a deep chill as if it was something I could grab. And it would take over my insides with one sweep. Then I’d curl up in a ball and hold my tummy from turning. I understood that these were physiological responses to fear. What I didn’t get was why I felt the same way for skipping an assignment in secondary school as being ambushed by armed robbers as an adult. Isn’t there supposed to be a difference in proportion?
Another subject I contemplated was the amount of big mistakes per life time. From what I’ve heard, you can only make one major mistake per life time. But I’ve seen a lot of people make countless major mistakes, even the same one twice. However, I figured when you make THE MISTAKE, you just know it’s the one. The feeling would be right, everything around you would pause, leaving only you and your mistake in motion, face to face. And after you have analysed it meticulously, you know this is the height, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back, and you hope and pray for it to pass. And just in case you aren’t sure, the BIG FAT MISTAKE is the one that rares its ugly head in years to come and says ‘Hey, remember me?’
Written by Ifeanyi Dike JR