An Open Letter To The Voices In My Head

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The smart people in the room have a name for you. They call you The Resistance because they’ve all read The War of Art and it sounds impressive. To me, The Resistance is what you call the unnamed forces working against you. You can’t be The Resistance. You all have names. I’ve known each one of you for years because one of you is constantly in my ear telling me why I can’t do something. That indictment lays squarely at your feet. My failing is that I have ended up listening and acquiescing to your creeping barrage of negativity. So it is that I have reached the age of 49 and my dream of a creative career has eluded me.

Until now. I’ve listened to you long enough, and I don’t want to listen to you anymore. I should be angry at having wasted so many years, but I’m not. The only feeling I have right now is a desire to render you helpless and unable to stop me any longer and to do that I have to name you.
The jig is up. I know exactly who and what you are.

You’re the voice of my father, who was so dissatisfied with how his life turned out he missed no opportunity to take it out on anyone else. Who never turned up for sporting events or school plays. Who used the Navy as an excuse for not being there when there were plenty of Navy families here in Virginia Beach who never seemed to have that problem. Who let his temper get the better of him more often than not and verbally and mentally abuse everyone around him. Who took every opportunity to tell me that I was a hippie loser for wanting to be creative.

How did that affect me? I tried to follow in your footsteps and failed. I ended up getting a job in an industry I am beginning to loathe as much as you loathed what you did. I’ve done this since 1990, and while it’s kept food on the table and a roof over my family’s head, it’s made me as miserable as your job in the Navy and after made you. Don’t worry, though. You are not the only one to blame.

You are also the voice of the Young Misfit that just wanted to fit in somewhere and was scared to do anything so far out of the ordinary as to be noticed. Never stood out, because standing out meant ridicule. Because of his diminutive size, gender-bending name, and physical problems that were a disability at a young age. Standing out meant rejection, humiliation, and more often than not it meant pain.

How did that affect me? I tried to keep my head down. I tried not to call attention to myself. I failed miserably at that because the act of trying so hard not to be noticed gets you noticed. It turns out that having problems at school and home leaves very little room for anything else. However, even the Young Misfit isn’t totally to blame.

You’re the voice of the Practical Man who worked 10–16 hour days in his 20s through his mid-30s to provide for a family and tried to create in his off time almost to the exclusion of the family he was trying to provide for.

How did that affect me? I became resentful and bitter. I felt attacked, so I lashed out at everyone. I became my father, and when I realized it, I couldn’t take it. I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 35. I stopped doing anything for two years. I became a shut-in. I felt so guilty that I just wanted to be forgotten by everyone outside the four walls of my house. It took a lot of time and a lot of therapy to come out of that hole, and even after all of that I still can’t tell you that Practical Man is the last culprit.

You’re the voice of the man that thinks that the world has passed him by. Who became the grumpy old man at work, like the grumpy old man that he worked with years ago. Who may have gotten too set in his ways and grumbles about it too loudly. Who has the feeling that he’s tolerated, humored, and too easily dismissed. Who feels that he isn’t contributing enough, and because of ability, attitude, or physical ability, might be a detriment to contribution.

How does that affect me? Well, the jury is still out on that one. That’s today.

The four of you have run this show for long enough. You don’t get to run this show anymore. My father is gone, and he no longer has an opinion on the matter. The Young Misfit is gone, his give a fuck disintegrated from overuse and all the fucks left the building. The Practical Man has been told to take a fucking seat on the weekends, to ‘move aside and let the man go through’. The Old Man is still old, but he’s still going to laugh at fart jokes, so there’s hope. This man is putting the four of you out to pasture, and he’s going to do the thing you didn’t want.

Finally, he’s going to start. Today.

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