Breaking up With the Voices in my Head
A couple of summers ago, I was living in the suburbs, doing every damn thing I could think of to make friends there. The suburbs is a weird place if you don’t fit into certain cultural categories (married, particularly to someone of the opposite sex, with kids, with or without a minivan), and I found it hard to make friends with anyone. So I did what any self-respecting millennial-ish person would do—I looked for them on the internet. I met a person who called herself “Sandy”. “Sandy” wanted to meet me for coffee, but the day we had made plans, she suddenly didn’t have a car and wanted me to meet her at her apartment at an undisclosed location. Since I am not a fan of getting disappeared, I suggested we find a place (in public) to meet within walking distance of her house. Unsurprisingly, I never heard from Sandy again.
This is all to say that Sandy wasn’t real.
Later that winter, I was having a particularly hard time. My Seasonal Affective Disorder was a real monster that year. I was depressed, and I found myself spiraling into self-loathing. This was partly due to a constant internal monologue that felt like being stuck in a tar pit. Every disappointment became magnified because my brain would tell me it’s because I was an idiot or unloveable or a failure or <fill-in-the-blank> unnamed fear. I replayed mistakes over and over again in my head because of a voice that told me that who I was couldn’t possibly be good enough. It was exhausting. So, in an act of desperation, I decided that I was going to name the voice in my head that said awful things about me.
I named that bitch Sandy.
The thing about Sandy is that Sandy isn’t real. The way that Sandy makes me feel is real, and I try hard to choose to sit with whatever those fears are—anxiety, sadness, anger, feelings of inadequacy. But just because Sandy is talking some shit doesn’t mean that what she’s saying is real. I make mistakes, and those mistakes make me feel regret or disappointment. But when Sandy rolls up and starts saying that I made mistakes because I am a mistake, I tell that asshole to take a seat. It’s an imperfect system, and doesn’t always work. But I have felt freed by detaching from those voices—ones that will never go away, but don’t have to define me. What would you name the voice in your head? Maybe it’s time to break up with them.