At the risk of sounding like a complete psychopath, I have a confession to make: I hear voices. The voices in my head sound a lot like the five o’clock news. They are all doom and gloom with the occasional side of sensationalism. “Next at five, Candice will never find what she calls “fulfilling” work in this economy. She ought to be grateful to have any job at all! And stay tuned as we uncover breaking news of how Candice has probably taken years off her life in her many failed attempts to quit smoking! And later, watch as we bring you exclusive coverage as Candice gets her heart ripped out of her chest and stomped on again because she was misguided enough to trust another man!!!”
If Eeyore and the teacher from Charlie Brown had a love child, it would sound exactly like one of my voices: “Wah wah waaah. Oh . . . bother.” These voices, or my “script” as I refer to them, have been following me around for as long as I can remember. Over the years their incessant chatter has become more like background noise, like a television on in the other room while you are trying to sleep; you eventually train your ears not to listen. Although certain situations really aggravate the script and the voices get louder. For example, say I am about to walk into a room full of people I don’t know very well. Suddenly my News Anchor Eeyore will go berserk and gets all Stephen King’s Carrie on my ass and shouts “They’re all gonna laugh at you!!” Or, say I am thinking about taking a much needed vacation to Mexico, the voice kicks in: “You don’t have any business going to Mexico! I mean all kinds of horrible things are going on over there! Besides, how are you able to afford a vacation right now? I mean, there are people practically standing in line for handouts and you want to go gallivanting off to Mexico??”
Heaven forbid that something wonderful happens! The voices will become deafening, like a keg party in your living room when you have to get up for school the next day and no amount of covering your ears or hiding under the covers will allow you to get any rest. Such was the case when I got engaged: “Oh… you’re gonna try that again. Haven’t you learned anything from the last several times you tried being in a relationship? Do you know what the divorce rate is these days? Besides, why would you think he really wants with someone like you anyway?”
Perhaps the worst was when I decided that I would give this whole writing thing another try. This time my voices didn’t even dignify their thoughts with words. They just burst in to shrill, hysterical laughter at my dream.
Sounds crazy, right? It is. But believe it or not—I am actually very lucky that my voices sound as crazy as they do because I am better able to recognize that they are not me. I mean, I actually enjoy meeting new people and I will never, ever turn down an opportunity to travel. And love; sure it’s shat all over me before, but so what? I still believe in it. And writing, well laugh all you want but I have known since I was old enough to read that one day I would make my living with words. The great news is that the crazy-Eeyore-piss- on-sunshine-fear- mongering-news-caster is not me! That voice is not me at all and there is a lot of power in knowing that. There was a time when I thought that the script was part of me and even worse, I thought that the voices were right! (doom and gloom can sound so authoritative) I am not sure how they got there, or what purpose they could possibly serve—but I do know that everyone has ‘em.
My girlfriend Lee runs around like Chicken Little. Even though she is one of the strongest, smartest and most successful women I know, she is constantly bracing herself for the worst the case scenario. Even in the midst of all her dreams coming true she has one eye on the sky and is wondering “What the hell am I gonna do when the sky starts falling?”
If being thoughtful and caring was an Olympic sport my friend Lynn would be on the Wheaties box. She is the type of person who notices that something might be going on with you before you know it yourself. She has the uncanny ability to see the good in others and to make the best out of the worst situations. She is the type of girl who could probably make having a flat tire in the middle of the desert an absolute riot. However, she is always haunted by her voice: The Roadrunner. “Meep meep!” He screams at her constantly. Always pushing her to do more, move faster, get it right and figure it all out! Poor girl can barely sleep at night because the Roadrunner is always running her ragged.
And then there is my friend Milana, who has been blessed with one of the hugest hearts I have come across. She dreams big and has the absolute tenacity to make these dreams a reality. Yet she carries around the voice of Yosemite Sam with her everywhere she goes. This fiery, hair-trigger tempered nut job is always threatening to go off and destroy all the things she loves.
Clearly it is not actually characters from the Warner Brother’s cartoons we watched as children or the creatures from beloved children’s books that have infiltrated our minds. We got these scripts from some pretty heavy places. Maybe it was an abusive step dad who was always screaming. Or a father we never thought we could please but we ran ourselves down trying anyway, or maybe it was being raised by people who had very dark views of themselves and the world. But facing down a personifications is much easier than facing the real thing. So, as cute as Eeyore might be, with his tacked on tail and big dopey eyes, I have decided I am tired of this donkey trying to run my life and piss on my dreams. He has to go.
So I put the little donkey in a cheap suit and I sit him at a news desk. And he starts in with that same story. About how I am not allowed to be happy when there are so many miserable people out there. About how the world is a scary, scary place and I had better watch my step. He goes on to tell me that I have no business having dreams, they won’t amount to much and he’d hate to see me disappointed. And all the while I am slowly stepping further and further away from him. His voice takes on the “Wah, waah,” quality as I continue to step away. He probably thinks that he has won again and that I am just going to retreat in the shadows as usual. That is when I get my running start. I start barreling straight toward him and as I pick up speed I think of all the things that I have missed out on, all of the things I would not risk because I was busy listening to this negative bitch tell me what the world is like. I think of all the ways that this voice has tricked me into being less of who I actually am.
I plow into my “script,” and I knock the daylights out of Eeyore. I scream: “Shuuuut Up!” Once that poor little donkey is on the floor I look at him and say: “You are the one with no business. No business telling me how to live my life!”
And so, that’s how I kicked Eeyore ass. And I will continue to kick it until I am free. All those things that seemed so desperate and real, those voices that ran me around in the same circles I hated, they started to loosen their grip. What kind of nasty script are you running from? Who personifies your “voices”? Is it time you drug Gargamel out into the streets? Are you sick of all your callous sarcasm getting in the way? Maybe it’s time for you and Garfield to have a little go time. All those demons can be personified into a harmless character and then faced down and defeated. Unless you tell me it’s Snoppy. Then you got big problems, real big problems.