There are two voices in our heads. I know it may seem like there’s a whole circus of them in there, but in my -albeit limited- experience, there are just two.

Let’s start with the shitty one. The one that tells you how limited you are, how unlovable, how awful, and that you are your mistakes. Perhaps this voice, for you, even has a face. Perhaps it’s your mother, your ex-lover, a teacher, a boss, a brother. And for some of you, this voice is so loud that it pervades your entire life experience.

What breaks my heart though, is that you listen.

This voice influences how you show up in the world, how you work, how you love, how you speak.  You work with your eyes wide open, certain that criticism is a mere breath away. You love with fear and reserve, convinced you will be left, cheated, rejected. And you speak in spurts, feeling safe with some, guarded with most and ready to retreat at a moment’s notice.

My shitty voice used to have a face, although I had never met her. This voice was born in my head on a cool Fall afternoon in the fifth grade. It was recess and my friends and I were playing with some boys. I had a mad crush on one of them. He played hockey, told really good jokes and looked at me in a way that made me blush. And that afternoon he said something so seemingly harmless, but the damage, for me, was two decades long.

“I showed my cousin our class picture, Danielle,” he told me as he kicked the chain-link fence, a strange smile on his face.

“Yeah? So?” I replied, playing it desperately cool.

“I pointed to you…told her I thought you were pretty. She said: ‘Her? She’s fat.'”

I died inside. Or at least that’s how it felt. I held onto those three words for twenty-one years. Those words steered me. They were my lens, my obsession. They drove me headlong into a dangerous eating disorder that consumed me for nearly sixteen years. Those words made me lie, made me push people away who loved me dearly and those words left a gaping hole in my gut so large that I had almost no self-esteem, no respect or love for myself.

And for what? Some twelve year old says three words and it causes this? Well, it didn’t have to. Because in the end it wasn’t the words. It was the value I gave them and then, sadly, it was my belief in that value. It took a lot of inner work to shake off that young girl’s voice. And you may say, “But Danielle, you didn’t even know her. And the voice in my head belongs to someone who was supposed to love me, respect me, value me.”

My response to that is: “So who is the voice in their head?”

Because until we decide to listen to something else, this cycle is endless. Pain begets pain begets pain. Hurt people hurt people. You have to take your power back. You have to.

The second voice is Truth. Plain and simple. This is the voice that whispers your worth. It’s subtle and still and it requires your invitation. It guides you to kind and beautiful people; sings lyrics that pierce your soul and move you to tears; brings you to books that break you wide open. This Voice never leaves you; it is you. It calls you Home and calmly waits for you to see…to truly see beyond the mess and muck of this world. Name it what you will: intuition, God, wisdom…whatever.

My plea is merely that you invite it in and listen.

Listen.

My shitty voice no longer has a face, though it is still loud and strong. The difference these days is that I question it. I hear its insipid, silly lies and I question. I breathe in and bring the lies to Truth. “What would you have me do with these thoughts?” I ask. “Leave them with me,” answers Truth. I breathe out and let it go.

I just made that sound so easy, didn’t I? Sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s so fucking hard that I’m sobbing, wiping the snot from my nose, hoping I don’t wake my kids and wanting so desperately to just FEEL BETTER.

The point is that I am committed to questioning the shit and listening to Truth. And I do feel better.

I do.

One day at a time.

And I love you. I love you so much and I pray for you, yes YOU. I pray that you question the shit and listen to Truth. You deserve a peaceful life.

You do. We all do.

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