It is difficult to keep mom’s voice out of my head. My little Maltese nuzzles her body between my feet. Mom’s voice whispers as I sit on my recliner, fingers poised on the computer, the click click click of the clock. I compulsively write a sentence, become disgusted at its imperfection and hit the backspace key.
Her voice speaks louder, more insistent. Not good enough. Make it better. This voice hurts my mind, my writing, my future. I thought the voice had subsided to an infrequent whisper. Lately, it has grown louder, angrier, more abusive as I try to assert myself and let myself become who I’m supposed to be.
I was never taught to cook or do much of anything for myself. She did everything for me even though I was independent-minded and wanted to do things for myself, my way not hers. A few days ago, I made broccoli alfredo for dinner. As I pour milk out of the measuring cup into a sauce pan, my hand shakes. I lay the cup down and accidentally bump the cheese grater into the sink. I jump. I try to breath. As I sit down at the kitchen table I feel hot. I felt her in the kitchen with me, telling me I wasn’t doing it the correct way. The loudest whisper I heard was “Don’t you dare go messin.”
It took time to gather myself and go back to making my dinner. You can survive on your own, I tell myself. You know how to take care of yourself. In the background she whispers no you can’t.
I spoke to Auntie on the phone tonight and she said I was using mom’s voice to further abuse myself.
She gave me a new mantra. “You are talented. You can write.”
I’m going to try this even though when she said it I felt embarrassed of myself for no logical reason. I’m programmed from childhood to feel like I have no right to feel good about myself. When someone infers that there is something to feel good about I’m anxious to accept it as truth.
The emotional abuse twisted my self-image and mangled my self-esteem. Little by little, I’m attempting to fight her voice. I’m substituting Auntie’s mantra. “You are talented. You can write.”