Voices in My Head

Jenna over at Stop, Drop and Blog had a great post about internal self-talk. I was struck by the honesty in her post as well as by the fact that many of her voices are so different from mine. This made me think about the root of those voices, how and why they vary. Generational? Jenna is younger than I am. Situational? Dispositional? And so on. (Yes, I spend a great deal of time pondering stuffs).

I will share some of my own voices with you. I hear these daily. They usually start the minute I wake from sleep but often occur in my dreams as well.

  1. You are fat and this means you are ugly.
  2. You are an imposter/poser.
  3. Your daughter will never want to know you. Who would want to?
  4. You are not a good mother to your sons.
  5. You should bake more.
  6. You should cook more for your family.
  7. You should feed your children a better diet.
  8. You should clean your house better/more frequently/differently.
  9. You should exercise.
  10. You should grocery shop regularly and use coupons.
  11. You will never write a book. Do not bother trying. Even if you did who would want to read it let alone publish it?
  12. You are too quiet/anti-social/introverted.
  13. You talk too fast.
  14. You are too candid.You should sugar coat things for people.  Not everyone wants the cold hard truth.
  15. You should try harder with your daughter. Going away as she asked was the wrong thing to do. You left her again. You should have fought with her/for her.
  16. You try to do too much. What are you trying to prove and to whom?
  17. You need to learn to relax.

The items in bold I am actively working on addressing. The remainder, well, they will have to keep talking.

Do you talk negatively to yourself? Are your conversations similar to mine or to Jenna’s or completely different?


Serious Q: What if…

The question that was not really a question did not surprise me.

I sensed the feeling, the confusion, and the angst surrounding it for years. Every time I spoke with her and got an update on her reunion it was there, hiding behind the uttered phrases, peeking out behind the “things are rough but I am lucky to have her in my life” word wall she had built.

I recall one particular challenging phone conversation where she cried a mixture of deeply sad and tremendously angry tears.  Her words, confused and conflicting, indicated she was tired of reunited daughters’ treatment of her and her kept children yet she feared stating such would end the reunion. Avoiding all conflict with daughter, she tolerated the vicious attacks, the nasty emails, the contrary gifts sent to relatives.  Much like a battered wife might state about an abusive husband, she felt having her daughter, even with the abuse, was better than not having her at all.

I rarely knew what to say.   I generally assumed she did not want me to say anything; she just needed someone to bear witness to the craziness she endured. In her presence, I would hold her hand and let her vent. Electronically I sent {{hugs}} and on the phone, I would “aww” or “hmm” or, as was often the case, lacking anything to say, sniffle to acknowledge I had heard and was still on the phone.

Thus, when the painful question finally passed her lips and made a sound that my ears could hear and my heart could understand, I was not at all shocked.

“What if…what if you do not like your child?” she asked.

The question was almost too much for her to utter.  I could hear her fear of judgment in the pause and repeat of the “what if”.  She felt like a terrible mother.  What kind of mother feels this way let alone utters the question for others to hear?

My friend does. My very good friend who happens to be a very good mother to her parented children feels like a terrible one to her surrendered and reunited child.

I did not say that. I really did not say anything. I had too many mixed feelings to safely answer her.  The words brought flashes of memory to my mind. My mother and my sister.  My own reunion.  My experiences with adoptee friends who tell me the reverse – they do not “like” the mother they found.  Such a situation does not qualify for a yes or no, right, or wrong answer. It is far more complex than that.

I still have yet to answer her, assuming she is even waiting for it.  Maybe it was enough that I listened and did not quickly respond with an answer, cast any judgment or ask her to explain herself more clearly.  Perhaps my silence was an acceptable response.

Or not.

Silence is sometimes construed as judgment. I think of all the years my family avoided the subject of my daughter.  They thought they were helping me. I thought they were ashamed of me.

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  When I did not respond to her did I contribute to some sort of evil? Even if that evil exists only in her mind?

More thoughts to come in my next post on same topic.