I try to write the same way I’d talk to a friend. Someone told me to try that, one time, and I probably never thanked them properly. Both for the good advice, and for the gentle delivery.
It’s hard to write in a voice that isn’t really yours. (It’s hard to write at all.) This applies, I think, even if the voice you’re using is a lot like yours — only fancier. Funnier.
You know what I mean. Or maybe you don’t? Maybe you’ve had better luck. Maybe you’ve never tripped your way down a page. (Maybe you’ve never done this publicly?) Maybe you’ve never stutter-stumbled over the words you yourself picked. The ones you tortured yourself stringing together. ELOQUENTLY!
It’s hard to be fancy and funny. I don’t know about you, but I feel much more comfortable with awkward and clumsy. Awkward and clumsy, and probably just a hair high-pitched.
That feels more authentic.
But lately I’ve been thinking about a different voice — a voice that I don’t feel so good about. This would be the voice that does not sound, not even remotely, like an exchange between two friends. Giggling about Second Breakfast.
I don’t like the way that I talk to myself. Talk-slash-think. Deep in the recesses of my brain, in the privacy of my own head, I am a horrible friend. A horrible host.
What kind of a person says: oh, you’re hungry? Go for a walk, first. Go for a walk, and then we’ll see.
I can answer that, actually. That kind of a person? That would be the same kind of a person who has made the [conscious or unconscious] decision to decline everything that makes her feel good.
That would be the same kind of person who has chosen, for whatever reason, to carefully dole out delight. To ration her allotment of enjoyment. Too big. Too much.
That kind of person? Forgoes pleasure altogether. (Frequently.)
If you asked me, that is what I would say an eating disorder is. It is the systematic deprivation of the things that make you feel good. And I do not only mean pie; I do not only mean pizza. Although no, you may not have those things.
I mean love; I mean joy.
Oh, you like that? You may have half of it. A third of it. A fourth of it, next time.
Yesterday it was a kale salad, at a restaurant. It was a kale salad, only mostly cheese, so panic.
And afterwards? It was a rule, broken. An afternoon, almost wrecked. A beautiful afternoon.
This is what happens when the rules change all the time, and you can only seem to figure out what they are by breaking them. It’s maddening. Let me tell you.
Do you know what else it is? It’s a losing battle. It’s losing battle, and it’s a voice that goes awfully quiet, when I ask why.
Why don’t you feel like you deserve to be happy. Not just that — but hugged, cradled, comforted, kissed. What are you punishing yourself for. Why do you cling to it like a lifeline, when it is an Exact Opposite. How can you harbor so much hate. Why do you insist upon it. Where did your self-compassion go. What are you so afraid of, and what can I do to help.
Writing helps. It helps me put a little more distance between the voice I’m proud of and the one I’m ashamed of. Maybe we’ll all luck out, and the one I feel so leery about won’t erupt today.
Maybe it will be kind, instead. Maybe it’ll say eat chocolate when your heart needs it, and kale salad when your body needs it. Maybe it’ll say your yoga teacher is beautiful, absolutely beautiful, and she is not a size zero. She is far from a size zero, and she is as close to RADIANT as you have ever seen.
Maybe this gentler voice — maybe it will say let’s just Shavasana, all day. (Savasana? Whatever. Rest!!) Let’s just breathe. Let’s just bring our knees to our chests, and rock from side to side. Slowly. Let’s take our time sitting up. We’ll do it when we’re ready, all the way ready. And we’ll just practice, until then. (Keep practicing.)