This isn’t going to be very funny, or witty, or humorous, my friends, but I still think you’ll relate to my son-of-a-bitch of an inner critic. In fact, I daresay you have one too – possibly a bit less crass, a bit nicer, but you’ve got one nonetheless.
I’m heading in to surgery the day before my 41st birthday. While finishing up my last semester of college I found a lump in my throat which I blatantly ignored as I studied for finals, wrote my senior thesis, and waited on the edge of my seat to find out if my Valedictorian nomination would mean I had to give a speech to thousands of kids, twenty-some years younger than I, wearing green gowns and caps with yellow tassels.
While I ignored this lady lump on the surface, my subconscious was busy deciding that I needed to move home to be closer to family. Everyone in my circle asked after my plans “where will you live?” or “what will you do?” I had no idea and, for the first time in my life, I didn’t see a clear vision of my future or of what I wanted.
Now I know why.
After I settled into my brother’s house with three other adults, four children, and a passel of dogs, my conscious mind told me to get my shit together and deal with the lump. I went in for tests and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. (Typically, I adore all things Asian, this. . . not so much.) I was told I needed an ultrasound and when the technician spent an inordinately long amount of time in the same two spots, and then called in her supervisor, I knew something wasn’t right. I mean, I know they’re not allowed to tell you anything, and I’m not a rocket scientist, but their faces, mannerisms, and excessive picture taking was clue enough for my dim wit.
After it was confirmed that I had, not one, but a few lady lumps, I was told I needed a biopsy to see if the big “C” was present. I’m not afraid of needles, per se, but when said needles are mining around in your throat like a jackhammer on a Saturday morn in New York City, it tends to get a bit intense.
Then I waited. And I waited, and I waited for that path report. For eleven days my Inner Critic and I argued back and forth:
Inner Critic: You have cancer, you git. It’s all those Nerd Ropes you’ve eaten over the years. Not to mention the Sunkist Orange soda and countless hours spent in front of the tv playing Zelda.
Me: I don’t have cancer.
Inner Critic: Yeah you do, and when you were thirteen you stole a pack of your mom’s cigarettes so you could look cool and twenty-some years later you’re still huffing, trying to look cool inside. Your best friend is a menthol light.
Me: I don’t have cancer.
Inner Critic: You’re going to die right after you’ve moved home to be closer to your family. Look at all those years you were away. Look at all you missed. What? So you could go to a Journey concert and ride on a tractor? So you could dive out of a plane? So you could learn to surf and be the only white girl dancing the soul train? So you could finish college with the most marketable degree ever? Ha! English/Creative Writing and Religious Studies? The recruiters are just lining up, aren’t they? You’re a selfish bitch.
Me: . . .
Inner Critic: You should have never laid out on the trampoline sunbathing with tinfoil under your thighs. You should have never microwaved your popcorn.
And the dialogue continues.
Then the nurse called.
My lumps were non-diagnostic. Essentially, in laymen’s terms, they have no unearthly idea if they’re cancerous or not. So, the doctor recommended a surgeon and I’m to have my thyroid and these lumps removed posthaste.
This isn’t an easy decision for someone who believes in the emotional correlation to physical illness. My Inner Critic and I had a few choice words over this as well:
Inner Critic: What do you need your thyroid and those lady lumps for? Decoration? A place to hang your scarves?
Me: But what if I can just deal with the emotional issues behind this and get well on my own?
Inner Critic: Who do you think you are? Louise-f*cking-Hay? Why don’t you just write an affirmation on the mirror with that ugly ruby red lipstick you wore last Halloween. Poof! You’re healed.
Me: I feel like these lumps are a manifestation of the fact that I’m not using my voice. I’m not writing.
Inner Critic: Well, laddddeeeee-f*cking-dah.
Me: It just feels so circular. I’m not writing so I’ve developed a health condition that’s screaming at me to use my voice. I’m not writing BECAUSE I have a health condition that’s affecting my voice.
Inner Critic: Get over yourself Louise, you’ve got lipstick on your teeth. You’re going to die before you’ve finished your novel and you will have wasted your life and your purpose.
Yup, my Inner Critic is the meanest a-hole I’ve ever encountered.
This is far from over.
Is it just me or does anyone else have a NASTY inner critic? Is it possible to bring healing to our inner critics? How do you get your inner critic to shut its piehole? Advice wholly welcome.