A year ago today, and I am certain of this because I remember the upcoming Father’s day being a giant pain in the arse inconvenience to my plan, I found myself, sitting isolated in my little cloud of doom, in a room filled with happiness and laughter, family and loved ones.
In the background, behind the obvious and flamboyant sounds of Thomas the tank engine coming from the telly, Addison trying to squeeze out a hard poo and the voice of the Irish one singing loudly while he cooked sausages for our breakfast, from behind the sound of my own deceitful laughter and forced enjoyment at what really should have felt like a genuinely happy scene playing out around me, however, was a malicious and spiteful undertone.
Only I knew this of course, but I wasn’t aware of it.
An undertone in the form of a significantly ‘heard’ voice, that came from deep down inside of me, extensively and intricately trained to remind me at my most fragile of points, that I was irresponsible, disgusting and a pitiful excuse for a woman.
An accomplished and incredibly proficient opinion of myself that reminded me relentlessly with every task I attempted, I was thoughtless, and weak and could never succeed. I was over sensitive and rash, dumb, and I hurt people without even realising. I was spoilt and a nightmare to be around, and everybody knew it so I may as well accept it. I should be ashamed of needing comfort for I didn’t deserve it, I should feel embarrassed of not being happy when I had so much to be happy about and I should feel incredibly guilty too, because so many people had problems worse than my own. So many people had real illnesses, and real problems and mine were no more than vain and self-indulgent dramatics. It barked at me that I was lazy and ungrateful and hated. I was a failure as a mother and I was ugly and fat and a let down. I was ugly inside. Everything about me was ugly.
It was so loud, and proud, and so convincing and had gone on for so long, that the truth is, I didn’t even hear it anymore, or realise it was even talking. It had just become part of me, hence not being aware of it.
I had started therapy and I needed to get better. I owed it to everybody. The pressure to succeed at ‘getting better’ was immense. If I couldn’t ‘get better’ I deserved to be dead. ‘Better’ from what though, I would ask myself with ferocious disdain? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.
The voice constantly reminded me of the need to be absolutely perfect all of the time, so failing? Even if it was only the voice in my head advising me I was failing? That meant I was. It was a fact.
Trying to come to terms with being a terrible mother? Even when the Irish one would assure me I was in fact the opposite, and that I was loved and beautiful, I knew he would never understand the truth. Nothing I did would ever match up to the expectations, I set for myself, and my inner voice was only too happy to remind of that. I was a failure. It was a fact.
Trying to hide my disappointment at who I should be but was unable to be, behind laughter? Was exhausting. Especially when my inner voice was laughing too. At me, all the while calling me pathetic and evil, and obnoxious and worthless. All facts.
Addison tried a banana for the first time that morning, as the sun shone through the double windows and we made plans to go to the park. The Irish one collapsed in to giggles at his 1 year old expression upon tasting it, as did I, as his mouth curled and he expressed his disgust like only a 1 year old could.
It had been a year of hospital visits, and allergies and arguments and for me? A year of failing my son and failing at life.
A banana was a big deal, and I should have felt elated.
But I was too selfish. Also a fact.
The three of us laughing, normal and happy, well, it was a family photograph of a memory, like so many others that have been taken since, but the difference on that day, was the ever present and intensely secretive threat of murder which had been lurking just behind my watery grin for a while, was now about to come to fruition.
It was making plans.
As we got dressed and the happy family park day played out, as I pushed Addison down a slide grinning from ear to ear, as I skipped off to buy ice cream, as the Irish one hugged me and told me he loved me and I kissed him back, as I shrieked and clapped and loafed about putting on the best show I could, the last show of my life, the finale, I was silently plotting, I was wordlessly preparing and I was busy considering, what the best time to take an overdose, so as to not be saved, and so as to cause as little commotion to those left behind as possible, would be.
I was going to commit murder.
It wasn’t a cry for help. I wanted me dead.
I wanted to die as I put my baby to bed. What kind of mother thinks that? My inner voice screamed. You should be filled with love, you selfish useless cunt.
I wanted to die as I broke open the packet and hesitated, my inner voice whispering sinisterly, that I was a cowardly insect. Grime.
It was relentless.
I was stuck in a cube of cement with an inner voice that was certainly not guiding me with love. And I didn’t even realise or believe that I was broken. Not really.
I had refused medication, for I didn’t trust it.
Medication for what? This isn’t an illness, I would cry, I am just selfish.
I ignored help, because how could anybody help me, there was nothing wrong with me, other than being pathetic.
Even when I was taken in to hospital, I still didn’t see it.
I am just a drama queen. I am not ill. I am too pathetic to even kill myself properly and look how many people I have hurt now.
Only a year ago, it feels like a lifetime.
‘‘You wont be able to silence it immediately,’ My therapist carefully and quietly whispered to me this afternoon from his side of the room, after I had I spoken of how disappointed in myself I was, as that voice, that overpowering voice was once again, becoming louder.
‘You can’t expect yourself to be able to just turn it off, that voice is old and wise and strong. It has been around a lot longer than the knowledge that you can inject a new voice. But you can learn to turn it down.’ He went on. ‘This new voice telling you that you are ok, and a good mum, and deserve care, well it is young. It isn’t strong yet, it is new, the important thing to remember is that it is there, and that you are trying.’
‘Whatever.’ I mumbled petulantly back in response, like a teenager refusing to take on that I wasn’t pathetic and a failure. It felt oddly comfortable to be insulting myself again.
‘Falling back in to old patterns is what we do when we find ourselves vulnerable and fragile. This doesn’t mean we have ‘relapsed.’ Only that we are learning to recognise the difference between then and now.’
‘Alright.’ I carried on. ‘What time is it? Can I go yet?’
‘Why not?’ I asked trying not to stamp my foot.
‘You have ten minutes left. Have you moved on in the last year do you think?’ He asks silencing me with a question he knew I would have to think about.
Have I moved on?
As I pick up the building blocks and listen to my son trying to get to sleep singing a song about ‘big trumps and boobs’ this evening and find myself genuinely laughing, I know that I have, but I also know, I still have a long way to go.
There are two voices now, that’s true, but it is still one hell of a battle.
When things get difficult and I feel like I can’t cope and am to blame (like getting suspended from work for making a terrible mistake) she shouts loud and clear about how pathetic and evil I am for long periods of time, and sometimes I hear her, and I listen and I struggle for a while, I get paranoid that everyone hates me again and I spiral.
And at other times when I drop a bollock, (like letting Addison eat Play Doh… it is ok to let them eat it, isn’t it? I don’t mean as a main meal, I just mean, if he swallowed some when I had my back turned that doesn’t make me a bad mum does it?) I find the strength from god knows where, with the help of medication, because I deserve to be helped, to tell her that not everybody hates me and actually I’m not as bad she thinks I am. (So take that bitch!- I’ll work on my fighting talk as time goes on i suppose. Baby steps and all that.)
Right now I am fighting. (Cos I’m awesome. – cringe!!!)
I have learnt a lot off James this year. (Why am I so god damn mean to him??)
Including that it is ok to be a victim sometimes, and that those thoughts your inner voice tells you – well they aren’t fact.
They are just thoughts, and thoughts can be changed.
Thoughts aren’t facts.
‘What would you say to your best friend Lexy, if she felt weak and pathetic and was constantly beating herself up? What would you say to her? Think about how you would react to her, then do the same for yourself.’
‘It isn’t as easy as that James’ I bite back at him (for no reason whatsoever?!?! He is lovely to me and all I do is stomp around acting like he just told me my skirt was too short!) ‘But to quote pink, I’d probably say;
‘Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead! Cos your perfect, your fuckin perfect!’ and with him rolling his eyes and laughing, I stormed out.
(I really don’t know why.)
I wonder, how I will be, a year from now?
One of the voices in my head just answered very quietly.
I hope I win.