At first, as the morning is still coming into focus, I feel light, airy, strong.
I watch the diffuse light streaming into my bedroom window and watch the world start to come into focus. My little cat lies next to me with reproachful eyes. For a moment I smile, thinking, this cat practically better than I do. For a moment, I can be joyful, irreverent, alive. For a moment, I am aware of myself and of my place in the Universe,
And then my cat meows. Not much, just a tiny meow. More of a chirp, actually. And the voices start up. Mostly it’s just one voice constantly mocking me, being mean to me, shoving me down, pushing my face in the dirt, giving me spiritual wedgies and so on. It’s a snarling man’s voice and it immediately starts in on my rough parts. Which are, as far as he is concerned, all of them.
Are you still actually lying in bed?
Oh my God, no wonder you’re so out of shape. Get UP already, if nothing else to feed the cat. He’s so hungry. What kind of cat owner are you? What’s your problem? Why are you still lying there? Get. Up.
I eventually succumb to the nagging and get up, feed the cat, clean his box, go upstairs to open the door between my little basement area and the rest of the house, which is where Socks wants to be. I dress, which means my hands feel parts of my body that I and the voice wish we could just utterly destroy.
Geez, d’you really think your boyfriend is going to stick around if you keep looking like this? Lose some weight already!! You’re like what 90 pounds overweight now? When is it going to stop? Maybe you could find some phen-fen or some other super speedy weight loss drug so that you can finally get these pounds off. I can’t believe he even looks at you. You’re disgusting. You used to be better but now you’re just fat and worthless.
So clearly getting dressed was an awful idea and I speed through it as quickly as possible. I head upstairs to make coffee and breakfast. The breakfast-making process is a pain because I make food to last me until mid-afternoon and the voice doesn’t seem to understand that.
A bagel. AND cream cheese? AND an apple? AND peanut butter? We’re going to be able to roll you around soon enough. I know you think this is healthy, but it isn’t for you. Water is healthy for you. Water and phen-fen.
The voice puts these ideas into my reality-based, actual mind and I start researching idly on my phone whether I can still get ahold of phen-fen somehow while my bagel is toasting and my coffee is brewing. The rest of the day spreads out ahead of me, land mines everywhere. At some point I will run into a friend who will tell me I look GREAT and how happy they are to see me or I’ll have coffee and exchange ideas around something rather intellectual with someone and they’ll express appreciation for my thoughts. Eventually, I’ll see my boyfriend, who cares for me very much, and shows and tells me so all the time, in many ways. At some point I’ll run into my mom and tell her about my latest accomplishments, and she’ll tell me how proud she is of me and how much she loves me.
And throughout all of this, throughout my bike rides and my writing, my rock climbs and my growing a vegetable garden, in silence and in cacophony, I will continue to hear it.
You’re not good enough. You never will be.
Your boyfriend is going to dump you any day. Your mom is so thin, you think she likes having a butterball daughter? Can you even do anything right? Will you ever be good enough? Never mind…I’ll just tell you, you’ll never be good enough. Never.
The most frustrating part of this is that it is just so utterly selfish. I’m spending a ton of time just letting my self-esteem get crushed by this voice that I never had before adolescence, but I have carried with me ever since. This voice doesn’t sound like my dad or brother or boyfriend or anyone I know, it’s a creature of entirely my own manufacture. How the hell do I get rid of it?
What do you think I should do to get rid of it? What would you do? What do YOU do?