Internal Voices Part 2

Once again thank you to Jenna at Stop Drop and Blog for the prompt behind an earlier post and this one. The last one prompted (pun intended) good conversations with friends and family.   I committed to sharing with you my thoughts on the roots of these voices.   Feel free to once again share your own or add to the commentary.

I will take these in the same order I posted them. Somehow that seems relevant to me. The ease of which I could retrieve the sound of that voice seems to equate to how loud it is heard inside me as well as how often I hear it.

You are fat and this means you are ugly.

This voice started speaking to me when I was very young.  It was low in pitch at first usually spoke through my siblings or indirectly through my mother when she said “you have had enough to eat”. She generally said this loudly so all could hear. We were usually at a holiday event with family and I was usually over snacking on some goody we had only once a year.  Looking back at photos of myself as a child, I, now as an adult, do not think I was a fat or overweight child but surely I must have been. Why would my siblings say these things and only to me?  Why did my mother have to embarrass me at family gatherings and loudly state “you have had enough chips”?  Perhaps in context of those around me, I was larger?  I genuinely do not know.  I can tell you the seeds were planted when I was young and it was within my family.

Later, as I approached puberty, I heard it from friends and society as I compared myself to them and they to me. I matured earlier than my older sister.  My mother got her a training bra and me a regular sized A cup.  I was thirteen. My sister threw a hissy fit in the store and quietly told me (without my mother hearing) the only reason I got a bra was because I was fat.   Seventh grade rolled round and the boy I had a crush on announced in Spanish class that I should be called Thunder Thighs.  He also let me know he had a crush on my best friend, a dancer, who had like a 2 inch waist.  He decided to call her Porsche and me Cadillac. It snowballed from thereon in. Society, lady mags, etc. only made it worse.  I try to reason with the voice. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose.

You are an impostor/poser.

I first read about this Impostor Syndrome in an article (or book?) written by Sheryl Sandberg. It struck home.  So did this article today on The Hairpin.  It explains some of my internal voice.  I recommend you read it.

In addition to that aspect of the voice, I struggle with my motherhood. How can I be my sons’ mother when society does not recognize me as my daughters?  I realize I am not her parent but I am her mother.  It is very crazy making. I recall an adoptee friend of mine with a related challenge. She is a single mom.  She has two children with two different men.  One of the fathers is absent. She is okay with that.  Society taught her absent fathers were okay. She is an adoptee. Society gives her no access to her own father or mother.  The father of her second child is very involved with their child and wants to be. She struggles with this.  She sees no value.  If society did not let her know her own father and mother, how is she to value it for her child?  See the conundrum here?

Your daughter will never want to know you. Who would want to?

This is a fear based voice.  Half the time I do not hear and really do not care what it thinks.  I have accepted that my daughter does not want to know me. It still saddens me but I accept it.  Yet, sometimes, when I least expect it, this nasty little bitch voice sneaks up on me.  I consider it some under developed part of myself/my story I have yet to deal with.

You are not a good mother to your sons.

I should have said this differently. In retrospect I am a good enough mother to my sons. I am.  They are fed, clothed, well-schooled, cared for, considered, etc.  My judgment of myself comes from society which in general puts way too much pressure on all mothers.  There is a good enough mother. I am good enough. I am not active in their schools (PTA Nazi Moms bug me), I do not support their fund raisers as frequently as a should,  and sometimes my son gets a big fat Yankee Candle smooshed in the middle of a birthday cake because I forgot to get a box of cake candles.  It is all good.  I am a good mother.  The voice tells me I could be a better one and maybe that it a good thing. It keeps me aware and constantly trying.

You should bake more.

Yes.  I should also shave my legs more frequently in the winter but what is the point?  This really is tied to the next one – more cooking than baking.

You should cook more for your family.

Remember that job?  I work long hours at times.  For the last app release I once worked 3 days straight with no sleep.  Regular meal planning requires grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping. It requires time. I have limited time.  It requires a liking of food.  I have a love/hate relationship with food.   I accept all these things and then I walk outside my home and see some obnoxious lady mag judging mothers who cook and deeming them better than those who don’t. Yeah. Society sucks.  My kids are not starving but sometimes they get too much pasta and red jar sauce and not enough veggies.

You should feed your children a better diet.

See above note on pasta, red sauce and lack of veggies.

You should clean your house better/more frequently/differently.

This voice comes from society, my own personal taste, a knowledge of how my husband would like our house kept. Again, time.  When I die am I going to regret the fact there were dust bunnies under my bed? Gads. I hope not.   If you come to my house and it is does not meet your standards, feel free to decline the next invite.

You should exercise.

Yes. I should.  This is voice I should listen to.

You should grocery shop regularly and use coupons.

Yeah, yeah. See that lady mag comment and cooking notes above.

You will never write a book. Do not bother trying. Even if you did who would want to read it let alone publish it?

As Denise alluded to this is not uncommon with writers. I am working on it. School classes, writing groups, etc.  I will not give up.

You are too quiet/anti-social/introverted.

Let’s go back to childhood yet again. I was born an introverted quiet kid.  Call it introversion. Sensory processing disorder.  Loner. INFJ. Whatever. I have no need for tons of friends or excessive socialization. I love my friends one-on-one or in small groups. I prefer deep conversations over a good coffee or glass of wine in a dimly lit rustic independent book store. I would rather take a class than go on a cruise. I enjoy my time alone and crave it.  The idea that my personality type is wrong or incorrect or unacceptable comes from my mother.  She used to force me to play with kids.  She once pushed me out of the house and locked me out to go play with a new girl named Dawn.  I sat on the steps, wrote a story with a stick in the dirt and ignored Dawn until my mother let me back in.

You talk too fast.

See above. I am quiet. When I do talk I speak too rapidly. This is part excitement and part social anxiety.  As my boss says I “often know the answer before the person asking me the question has had a chance to complete their sentence”.  I have a quick mind and I talk fast as a result. I also am very socially anxious so depending on the sitch, it can be one or the other root cause.   Note however it runs in my family.  My nieces speak even more rapidly than I do. Even I do not understand them.  Sometimes I think they are aliens.

You are too candid. You should sugar coat things for people.  Not everyone wants the cold hard truth.

Yeah, see, I have a problem with this internal voice and even the criticism often made by my family. I am candid. I prefer to deal in reality and truth rather than make ugly things look and feel prettier.  Because I want people to treat me this way, this is the way I act.  If it is too rough for you, perhaps we should not be friendly.  If you need someone to hold your hands in your pool of denial, kiss your emotional boo-boos, I am the wrong person to ask.  Move on.  If you want support, are making a change, need to talk hard facts, need to be accepted for who you are, feck yeah.  I am in.

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.

Yeaaah. This voice is loud and regular and can make my physically sick.  I let the voice holler.   I believe the voice to be wrong and right.  At this time I have no idea how to handle this voice, how to quiet it.  So it continues.

You try to do too much. What are you trying to prove and to whom?

True.  Not trying to prove anything.  Just have an unquiet mind. Need constant intellectual stimulation.  Always feeding the need to be a better person tomorrow than I am today.  Some people are fine being who they are for the rest of their lives. The only thing that changes in their lives is that they grow old.  I cannot live like that.  I have an overwhelming need to be the best me I can be and that means constant growth. This voice is usually rooted in others who want more of my time than I am able to give at a particular time so they criticize how I spend my time.  Whatevs.

You need to learn to relax.

Also true.  When I do get downtime with my sons or my husband, I find it takes me far too long to get into that space with them. Noisy mind, always worrying, wondering, questioning, doing. See above.

In summary, my voices come from my childhood, mother, adoption and society. I suspect most people can relate to these voices in their own way.  How about you? Did anything resonate with you?

6 Thoughts.

  1. What’s really comforting is that I’m not the only one that has these feelings/thoughts, which leads me to believe that we are more “normal” than we believe that we are. Perhaps it’s time that we stop comparing ourselves to what we think about other women (people), because it looks like we’re wrong anyway. Thanks for being so candid because it gave me something to think about.

  2. Suz, you have A LOT of voices! I had more when I was younger, way fewer now. I don’t think I ever had the cooking/baking voices… I accepted my domestic inabilities early on. But I never had young children to cook or bake for, plus a very kitchen-handy hub. Phew! I can relate to the voices about motherhood and being an imposter. I believe I didn’t have more children because I believed I would be a bad mother, that I didn’t deserve to be one. And I often thought that I was fooling everyone when I achieved something or was successful. Admittedly, I was an imposter when I acted as if giving up my son was water under the bridge, that it didn’t bother me, and never talked about it. I did that for 25 years. Reunion changed that somewhat. But nothing changed it more than writing about it and publishing my book. I was outed, finally, and although I was afraid at first, now I’m glad. Another voice silenced! You are a strong, capable woman, and I know you can work through all of these. Let me know where you need support. I’ve been there, done that. Not totally free of voices, but maybe 75% there. Hint: Definitely let go of the cooking/baking thing. You have a job with a lot of responsibility. You can’t do it all, so don’t expect to. Oh, and exercising too. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. (((Love and hugs)))

  3. I don’t think there is a working Mom in the world who feels she is on top of either the mothering or the work outside the home. I think it is ever thus even with the most supportive of spouses (which I have and you seem to have too.)

    The cooking and baking thing – they say that is because we are trying to be our mothers while holding down full-time jobs. As somebody said – let it go.

    Writing, that’s a whole other story. Try to separate them out. Because writing brings it’s own insecurities. The first short story I ever wrote won a prize. That freaked me out. And made me terrified for a while. Writing – it’s tricky. But you are a good writer remind yourself of that – often.

    I had my daughter after I met my son. I had the opposite reaction about my mothering probably because of meeting him first. I felt I was a good mother and it made me angry that I was denied the opportunity to be a mother to him, particularly since, according to him, his adoptive experience was less than optimal.

    Down with negative self-talk – way easier said than done. Keep the faith!

  4. Hi Suz,
    After paying closer attention to my inner voices for several days, I’d characterize them as mostly future tense. I’m wondering if this is because of my career as an educator? My voices are focused on planning for tomorrow. I keep a mental “to do” list and am often adding and subtracting as the day and night move along. I also have some food related voices as I’m the primary household cook and fix about 20 meals per week.

    • HI Gail! Interesting on your positive thoughts. I say that because I do not think I have positive voices. You have made me think!

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