Oh, the Voices.

I had to (wanted to) write a short review/commentary on a friend’s poetry book. This is what happened in my head when I knew it was time to get to writing it.

ME

I have to write that review, you guys.

VOICE 1

Not now. You have to do the dishes, change the

laundry, sweep the floor, fix the quilt

– damnit – the dog keeps pulling it apart.

VOICE 2

You’re falling apart. Just accept it.

VOICE 3

Are you sure you can do it?

Are you sure you’re smart enough

to write that review? You read that

other review, and you barely

understood it.

VOICE 1

Seriously. It’s not due until tomorrow.

Just don’t worry about it.

Leave it.

VOICE 3

What will people think about your opinion?

What if it’s wrong? What if the author hates

what you write?

VOICE 2

This is why I said we should just

stop everything. Just be quiet.

Just let the breaking happen.

ME

Holy. Shit.

VOICE 1

I know you’ll do it tomorrow, so

Just don’t worry about it.

VOICE 3

Worry about it.

Worry about it a lot.

You’re a born worrier.

Embrace this part of you.

ME

No. I want to change.

VOICE 2

But…the last time you wrote a review,

We spent so much time and effort on it.

The publisher didn’t even want it.

It’s because it’s not smart enough.

ME

Breathe.

VOICE 3

You have every reason to be afraid

of writing this review. Everyone will

judge you.

ME

Who’s everyone?

VOICE 1

I’m sure not many people will read it

anyway, so just leave it till the last

minute. Do your best.

VOICE 2

What is your best? Can you even

give your best? If you give your best

and you fail, we will break more.

ME

This hurts my brain. My heart.

VOICE 3

That’s why we need to curl up.

Turn on the tv. Ignore. Let your

heart weep. Fear is a warm

blanket.

ME

I don’t want to be so damn afraid

all the time.

VOICE 4

So, what are you gonna do about it?

VOICE 1,2,3

Go away Voice 4!

ME

(smiling)

Huh. What’s happening here?

VOICE 4

Just write the damn thing.

You read the book. You loved it.

You made notes. You have opinions.

She wouldn’t have asked you to write

about her book if she didn’t want YOU

to write about her book.

VOICE 1

The dryer buzzed. Go fold the clothes.

VOICE 3

It’s your funeral.

ME

Can I have a funeral for you, #3?

VOICE 3

—-

VOICE 2

This is interesting. You should write about it.

Write about these voices. It will help with

the breaking.

VOICE 3

No body cares about your writing.

ME

That’s not true.

VOICE 3

No?

ME

No.

Be quiet.

VOICE 4

You’re ready. Sit down and write.

VOICE 1

You already changed the laundry.

I guess you can fold it after. It’ll be

your treat.

ME

I’m nervous.

VOICE 4

Do you get nervous to breathe?

ME

No.

VOICE 4

Then why do you get nervous to write?

You always tell me it’s like breathing.

VOICE 3

Because breathing is easy. Writing is hard.

And you can’t fail at breathing.

VOICE 2

You could – but then you’d be dead.

ME

ENOUGH. Sweet hell.

VOICE 4

Powerful. I like it.

You’re ready. Just write it.

Now.

ME

Ok.

It was a voice battle. To the finish. But I got there. Here. I wrote the commentary. Sent it off. That’s it. No expectations. Just write because I love it. Because I know what I’m doing. Because I have opinions and this change in me accepts these opinions and is sharing them…even though I’m scared about it.

After I emailed my commentary, I sifted through my inbox and found a message from poet Olivia Gattwood. I can’t remember who shared her with me. But, in all honesty, I’d forgotten about her. I’m glad she sent an update.

Then I watched this:

And this happened as I watched:

ME

She’s so beautiful. Look at her hair.

VOICE 5

She’s so thin. Her body is so hot.

ME

I know.

VOICE 5

You don’t look like her. At all.

ME

VOICE 5

Her nipples are hard.

ME

Really? That’s what you’re noticing?

Listen to what she’s saying.

VOICE 5

She’s so good.

VOICE 2

You don’t write like that.

VOICE 3

Gattwood is why you shouldn’t write at all.

ME

What?

VOICE 3

Yeah, I mean, she’s so damn good.

She’s out there. Doing this.

What are you doing?

VOICE 5

You need to lose weight before

you get on a stage.

VOICE 2

Let’s just watch an episode of Shameless,

Shall we?

VOICE 4

What is happening here?

ME

I know.

VOICE 4

 This woman is a gift.

So are you.

ME

I don’t know.

VOICE 2

Compared to her, I don’t know.

You don’t look or sound like her.

VOICE 3

That’s why she’s way better than you.

Look, 75,000 people watched this poem

on youtube. Where’s your youtube channel?

ME

I don’t have one.

VOICE 5

We’r too fat for youtube.

VOICE 2

Remember TedX?

ME

Don’t even. I’m happy with TedX.

VOICE 3

Are you?

VOICE 1

You could always fold laundry now.

VOICE 4

We can learn from Olivia.

VOICE 5

But those lips. Those red lips.

VOICE 2

We’re just not good enough.

VOICE 4

Are you going to let this happen?

ME

It’s so hard to make them stop.

VOICE 4

Keep watching. Keep listening.

You’re a teen. Love the teen you are.

ME

VOICE 3

Not. A. Teen. Forty is this year.

ME

Shut it.

VOICE 2

 I’m afraid to get on stage again.

VOICE 3

We should be.

ME

Okay. It’s over.

VOICE 5

Seriously, she’s hot. And she’s a

brilliant poet.

VOICE 2

 We’ll never be like her.

#honest

That’s what happened as I watched this brilliant woman read her incredible poetry.

At the end, I felt defeated and less-than.

So I opened when back to my email and opened a message I sent to myself with a poem idea in it. I read the line. And the voices, the nasty ones, piped up, right away.

VOICE 2

This is shit, Vanessa.

VOICE 3

Juvenile. How will this change the world?

I mean, what’s so fascinating is how quick and violent these voices are. How insistent and loud and immobilizing. But they’ve been in my head my whole life. As long as I can remember having thoughts at all!

I felt compelled to write about this daily phenomenon. Surely, we all have voices in our heads – vying for power and pushing us to make choices that may or may not be healthy.

I don’t know how to make the voices go away – yet. But I think that writing about them. Giving them life outside of my head is one way to take them out of my head. If only for the time it takes to write the blog…for these minutes, my mind is a single voice writing to you.

More honesty. I’m not strong enough to write poetry after watching that video. I feel like I should apologize for this truth…but that’s what I always do. I feel shitty. Then I feel guilty for feeling shitty. Then I avoid what I let make me feel shitty in the first place.

I will write poetry today. And it will feel amazing. And I will welcome the positive voices.

But now…in this moment, it is enough to share the voices.

Fear, I’m realizing, is a castle I’ve been hiding in. But the windows are open. I can see the water. Smell the earth. The search for the exit is on.

 

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