At least 4 times a week I find myself laying in bed in the morning, explaining to both myself and my dog why I’m going to get up and get to work. This is usually followed by a deep conversation with myself about why it’s important to get out of the shower before I use up all the hot water. There are later discussions regarding remembering to eat, remembering to go to the bathroom, remembering to take meds, remembering to go to bed, remembering to close my eyes. It’s a full gamut of discussions. As I worked through therapy, I learned it’s important to talk to myself like I would a good friend. I no longer yell at myself to get out of bed, I have a discussion. I encourage myself. I often lose negotiations with myself regarding chocolate or alcohol, but that’s another story, and either way I’m very civil with myself.
But there’s another voice deep in my inner self that jumps out at inconvenient times to be negative, hateful, sarcastic, abusive. When I make a mistake, it’s the voice that tells me I’m stupid, fat, ugly. In short, it’s an angry little voice with a bad attitude. It’s connected to the part of my psyche that’s been disappointed. And it’s there to reassure me my disappointments are all my fault, thank you very much. Instead of pushing that voice away or yelling back at it, I’ve learned to engage it, sort of start a think tank with the angry little voice.
There’s another voice – and now you’re wondering about dissociative personality disorder, which would be far more interesting, but no, I’m just your ordinary chatterbox. The third voice is the one that reminds me that my body hurts. It’s a very quiet voice, but persistent. I’ve always said, the best thing you can do about chronic pain is to simply not think about it. When you think about it, it magnifies. Your attention and energy should be focused on something productive, something you want to do, not on how you feel trying to do it. This voice tells you how you feel, all the time. It will often join the discussions I have with the other voices. It sits in the corner to nod in a superior way and encourage negativity. It’s insidious. It’s the voice that is arguably the most important to silence. Even as I sit here typing, it’s in the back of my head (hiding behind the tinnitus), taunting me. When it speaks, I stop working. It’s a Svengali – it hypnotizes me into inaction. I once worked in a nursing home where we had people bedbound and unresponsive. I’ve often wondered if they had that insidious voice too, telling them they hurt and to just lie still. To that voice, I say “Shhh.” I say it quietly yet firmly. “Shhhhh.” And then I stand up anyway.