Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Thanks voice, but no

It is cold today. I have not yet ventured out. I have, however, got up, showered, made my bed in military fashion (by which I mean the quilt isn't a crumpled mess on the floor). I have put work clothes to wash, taken a damp cloth and cleaned the shelves and surfaces of my room that were furry with dust, rearranged my desk, put all the half-read books back in the bookcase to be taken out and attempted again in another six months.

It isn't much. It is more than I've managed in weeks.

And, yes, the voice was there, that one criticising my every move, telling me how small I am, how worthless, how ridiculous is any hope of change. When I felt good that I was about to stand up out of bed, about to move to the shower, the voice was there, telling me that everyone my age is buying houses and raising children and exploring the corners of the globe, and here I am patting myself on the back for shuffling under a jet of water and washing my hair. How pathetic that is, how puny.

And I almost listened. Almost climbed back into bed. Scrolled past nothing on my phone, rolled over, snoozed through the day. But it struck me the lunacy of the logic of that voice. By saying that getting a shower is a stupid thing to be happy about it persuades me to not get a shower at all. By believing that it's dumb to make small advances I end up going backwards instead.

What drivel! The voice's goal is not to tell truth, but to prevent me living my life, because the voice is cowering and uncertain and afraid. Yet how large it feels when it talks, how well it knows my weak spots, my vices, the precise angle at which to slide its knife.

So I stood up. It wasn't so hard. I walked to the bathroom. I ran the taps. I was mindful of the voice, recognised that I was separate from it, that it was but a silly function of my mind. Like a sneeze, I watched it come, felt its power, and let it go.

And of course it came back. It always comes back. In my experience it is not something to conquer, finally, like in the stories where the hero overcomes her demons and learns to accept herself and goes on to save the world. Your demons are part of you, aspects of your true self, to be acknowledged and faced down in each moment anew. You do not defeat the darkness, you work hard to slowly develop a healthier relationship with it.

If you have a voice within, whispering damaging nothings in your ear, telling you you are not good enough, not smart enough, that you will never be pretty, then that is OK. The whispering is painful, yes, but don't add to the pain by beating yourself up for the pain existing in the first place. Don't waste energy playing whack-a-mole with what is essentially part of your own brain. You mush it down, and it just pops up somewhere else. Better to let it rise, let it fall, without getting too much involved.

There it goes, doing it's thing, as it always does. "You're too fat, too weak, your skin is a mess." Let it chunder, let it bluster, then get on with your day.

That's been my approach this morning, and in doing so I have been kinder to myself, got some chores out of the way, written most of this. It isn't much, but it's the best I've done in weeks. Baby steps, one at a time, and who knows where it will end up? You toddle forwards, the voice knocks you over, you get up and toddle off again.

The voice has been there as long as I can remember. I guess it's sticking around. But then my ability to hear the voice and carry on regardless has always existed as well. And I think that is encouraging indeed.