Doubt, Jerkface, Gladys, and Hope

Why does there have to be a little voice in the back of your head that makes you doubt yourself? My mean voice hurts my feelings all the time. It pokes at me and picks on me and backs me up into a corner, like some grade school bully. A couple days ago I thought I was finally having a good week at being a mom, but suddenly my teenager is in tears telling me that she is feeling left out and uninteresting at school. The whole time I’m calmly talking to my daughter, the harsh voice in my head is saying, see? that’s all your fault right there. You didn’t give her the tools she needs, and now she’s going to be just as insecure as you are. I shut it down so I could focus on my daughter, but the lingering doubt stayed with me for the rest of the day.

My inner voice laughs in disgust at me sometimes. It’s like a real person, another version of me, only, she’s the meanest version of me. Let’s call her Jerkface.  She’ll tell me that I’m a good friend, but cackle when she tells me I’m not as good as someone else. Facebook is the surest way to let her have a field day. See? Look right there. That’s all the proof you need. You’ll never be THAT cool. You’ll never measure up to HER as a friend. And look at that post. They didn’t bother to invite you, because you don’t fit in. And right around here is where the mature voice in my head chimes in and adds her two cents. She’s very quick to defend, but she sounds like an older, boring version of me. Let’s call her Gladys (not that there aren’t some kickass people named Gladys,but still). Don’t you listen to her, you’ve got great friends and they love you. And I try so hard to believe her, when Jerkface laughs and hits back with, yeah, until they find someone better. 

Jerkface’s whispered voice gets right under my skin. They don’t call. They don’t text. They’ll never visit. Face it, they just don’t like you.  That’s the thing with doubt though, it’s a torturous kind of fear. It has the power to know what hurts and scares me the most.

It’s so crowded in my head most days. When I’m not trying to remember important dates for the girls, or outings with my friends, or when my hubby will be out of town, I’m in a constant battle within. And it’s so hard to fight against yourself. Only your own mind knows the best ways to punish and the best places to leave a mark.

It’s on the days when my defenses are weak and I haven’t had enough sleep that the Jerkface makes an appearance. She comes along with no warning. She kicks me hard when I’m down and even harder when I’m pushing myself to get back up. But I fight her. If I let her voice win and pull me down under the weight of all of that doubt, I’d be lost.

My logical, confident self who, come to think of it, doesn’t appear as often as she should, reminds me that I deserve a lot of good things. She whispers about all the good things in my life and all the good times I’ve had. If she were a person, I’d call her Hope. She offers a hand usually when I’ve been put through the ringer by Jerkface. She helps me up and stops the bleeding and reminds me of who I am and how much I’m loved and worthy of that love. I really like her.

Mostly I live for the blissful days of silence, when I’m able to tune out the chaos inside my head. I think on those days, Hope has won out and kicked Jerkface’s ass before she even gets one foot inside my mind, while Gladys calmly sips some blueberry tea that has way too much sugar in it and looks on, mildly amused. Doubt is one serious mamma jamma. If you’re feeling like me out there and you have your own Jerkface, know that you’re not alone, and just give Hope enough time to kick some ass.

Love, Moe

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