I have long called that critical voice “my editor.” That voice that finds fault with everything thing I do and every way I do it. That voice that lambastes me and judges me and scorns me. “That’s not enough,” she tells me. “You complain too much. Others had it harder,” she scolds, when I acknowledge the challenges of my childhood. “You’re wrong,” she adds as an afterthought to nearly everything I say.
Well, she used to be that loud in my head. Now she only sometimes is, but when she is, she IS.
First I learned to call her out. “’My editor’ disagrees,” I’d say out loud, when I’d hear her voice chastising me. “Thank you for sharing,” I’d say to her. “Thank you, but that’s not true.” I learned to second-guess her immediate denigrations, and to tell myself the opposite to nearly everything she said.
Then I learned to embrace her. I realized that she was – in her view of the world – merely trying to protect me. I realized that early on she realized that to keep me safe, she had to keep me from messing up. She had to get me to leave no room for error, no mistakes, no “not good enough.” And that therefore everything became “not good enough.” I began to see her differently, and began to appreciate and value the lines she drew for me.
And now? Now I’ve learned how amazing she really was, and is. I’ve begun to grasp that she really did keep me from harm. She really did save my life. She read the situations I was in, and found a way to protect me. Even if she did – and does – go overboard at times.
I’ve learned that I probably wouldn’t be living the life I am – a life of joy and love and beauty – without my editor by my side. I’ve learned to really mean “thank you” when I say “thank you” to her.
And what I’ve really learned is that I misnamed her when I named her my editor. I may have noticed her constant editing of everything I did – and was – all those years ago, and therefore “my editor” made sense. But her real name?
She is my hero. She stepped up and stepped in to bring me safely through. I may not need her editing – and guidance and fear – any more, but I want to honor her for all she did and who she is. Now when she chimes in I smile. I acknowledge what’s kicking up her terror. I remind her that I’m safe. That we’re safe. That I’m good. I thank her for all she’s done, and all she’s doing. I remind her again that we don’t need to be so guarded any longer. In my thoughts, I hold her in my arms and love her.
I tell her that she’s my hero. She relaxes, and we move on.
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