So I hear voices.
No, my dear fervent readers, I’m not adding schizophrenia to the list of magnificent mental maladies that I deal with. Just voices. Some of them are verbal, but mostly they are from my own inner struggles.
This goes on all the time, but recently my co-worker whom I call Cornelius pissed me off. He knows about why I’m down here and not with my daughter, I usually keep my cards pretty close to my chest but I have shared my situation with a few people. So the other day he asked me how close I was to going back to California. I said maybe this year…I hope. “Man,” he said, “You oughta be ready soon. Got some money saved. You don’t have to pay rent. I’d sell my car and get a plane ticket.”
I didn’t want to hear any more. I didn’t want to have to explain to him that it’s a little more complicated than that…especially when I try on a daily basis to understand it myself. I just said, “Yeah, that’s probably what I’ll do.” Then I headed out of the room.
I’m sure he meant well. Most people do. But I hear them, the voices, they enter my mind and get twisted, entwined with my fears, doubts, self-condemnation:
“What’s wrong with you? Get it together dude.”
“So you had a bad couple of years, get over it!”
“What the hell kind of a father would leave his child and move 2,268 miles away?”
“I don’t care what happened to me, I would never do that.”
“Your father worked three jobs to pay the bills when you were little. You can barely handle one job.”
“We’re used to it now. We expect you to screw up.”
Voices, not exactly helpful ones.
My religious tradition would say that they are voices of discouragement from “The Enemy”…you know…
Lindsey Goodall, whose blog I cannot recommend highly enough, has a very blunt but very apt term for these voices. She calls them “assholes.” It’s hard not to listen to the voices, the asshole voices. Even though I don’t want to hear them…to believe what they say…they say it so damn loud. And what they say is so easy to believe sometimes.
But there is another voice. A voice that arises out of the darkness. A still, small voice. I can barely hear it, like a whisper in the midst of a cacophony…but it’s there:
“You are my child.”
“You are your father’s child.”
“He was strong, and so are you.”
“You may have screwed up, but you are not a screw up.”
“You have all the tools and strength that you need. You will use them, and the 2,268 miles will vanish away.”
Listen to those voices, Joe. Don’t listen to the assholes. Get up. Do the first thing, then do the next thing. When you get tired, rest. When you get knocked down, get up again, and do the next thing.
“I will restore the years that the locust has eaten, you will cross the miles and the years, and though you may not understand it now. You and Boodles will be better because of them.”