You know that voice you hear that says “attaboy!” in your head? Mine is a Jerk.
We all hear voices. It’s part of the deal. Part of being human. Our inner voice is what drives us in life. He (or she, if you are so equipped) is our voice of reason, our conscience, our ego and the part of us that says “Hold my beer and watch this.” Everyone has that voice. He can be our own voice echoing through the vast emptines of our skulls or it can be a loved one egging us on through life. Whomever the voice is, he is a part of you that does not take to being ignored.
I have lots of voices. I’ve written about some of them before. Most of the voices in my head are the result of my depression and anxiety getting the best of me. Normally I can manage to lock them in a closet somewhere in the back of my mind. They get out every now and again but I’m learning to cope with their awful insistence. That other voice though? That one I can never seem to silence.
The primary voice in my head is there the same as yours. Looking over my shoulder as I trudge through the drifts of life. The difference between my voice and yours? Mine is a dickhead. I don’t like him. He’s under the mistaken impression that he can order me around and treats me like an idiot. No, I don’t like him one bit. I do not like him Sam I am.
I didn’t realize my voice was a dickhead until just recently. I’d never really talked much about myself with other people, and so the topic never came up. Once I opened up about my depression however, things changed. People began to find me, to share their own stories and to ask about my own. The conversations usually went something like this:
Person: You’re an amazing writer. Thank you so much for letting me know I’m not alone.
Me: I’m not. I’m just some guy. I got lucky this one came out right.
Person: Seriously? You don’t see it?
Person: Wow, you’ve done a wonderful job with the house. Did you pay a contractor?
Me: No. Are you kidding? No self respecting contractor would charge for a job like this. It’s awful. There are mistakes here, here and here.
Person (squinting): Where?
Me: You don’t SEE it? Are You Kidding? Never mind. It’s awful.
You see, my voice is the harshest of critics. He lets me know I’m never going to be good enough. He reminds me constantly of my mistakes both as I’m making them and after it’s over. He’s the guy who always lets you know you should have done better or that you can’t do better. He’s like a friend who is always there at the worst possible time. My voice is an asshole.
I listened to him. I’m 37 and I’ve always listened to him. “How can you write for a publication called the Good Men Project. You’re not even a Good Man let alone a good writer.” I haven’t had to live up to anyone’s expectations because his were always too much for me. No matter how hard I try it will never be enough.
When I crack a joke and people laugh he tells me they’re just being polite. I’m funny. I think. At least maybe. I mean, sometimes. Right?
Even now, as I sit here after dinner sipping my adult beverage he’s telling me nobody will read this. Nobody will care. Nobody will identify and while I track my page clicks this one will turn into one big disappointment.
When he decides to interject I know it’s not going to be fun. I can usually count on low self esteem, guilt and a heaping dose of insecurity. Right now he’s telling me there’s no reason to even post this. He didn’t think it was a good idea when I started and it’s looking like less of a good idea now. My voice makes it his lifes mission to let me know I’ve never done anything right. I screw up given the slightest opportunity and I’m not good at much of anything. Yeah. The voice in my head is a dickhead.
Photo Credit: Meg Wills/flickr
(via The Good Men Project)