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“You can’t do this. Who do you think you are? There is no possible way you can do this. Absolutely none. Why are you even trying? It’s a waste of time anyways. You should just give up. You can’t do this.” Those thoughts echo in my mind, like howling dogs, desperate to be heard and listened to. I can see them clearly: massive, snarling hounds that range in color from dull smoky gray to dark brown to pitch black. They have slobbering mouths, complete with vicious teeth and powerful jaws that gape wide in a threatening sort of way. Their evil black eyes glare at me, bore into me, frighten me.
And against all these dogs, there is only me. Only me, and I look terribly small and fragile when compared to those beasts. I don’t have vicious teeth, powerful jaws, or evil eyes. I am human. Maybe science tells me I have a bigger brain, but somehow I don’t think that will help me very much. Against their merciless fangs I am nothing. I am weak.
The only thing I have to defend myself with is a leash. A battered, worn, leash that is almost in tatters from age and from the terrible things it’s supposed to keep at bay. There’s a collar on the end of the leash, of course. A collar that is presumably intended to go around the neck of one of those evil dogs. But how am I supposed to put it there? I will surely be torn to ribbons before I even move one step.
“You can’t do this. You can’t conquer us; your doubts, your fears. Why on earth would you even try? You’re not brave. You’re not special. You’re just a normal person. Just an average high school girl. Nothing special. Nothing interesting. You can’t even have confidence in yourself. How do you expect to be loved? To be worth something to others? You’re pathetic. No one will ever care about you.”
“People care about me!” I’m arguing with myself now. That’s probably not a good sign.
“No they don’t. They pretend to care because they’re too kind to tell you otherwise.”
“That’s not true! It would be kinder to tell me the truth.”
“Well, not everyone’s brave enough to do that. It’s hard to tell the truth. Being honest just ends up hurting someone.”
“But if they hate me, why would they be afraid I hate them?” That thought came out a little unclear so I rush to clarify. “I mean, I can’t hurt them if they don’t care what I think.”
The other voice in my head, the one that is mine but not mine, gives a soft growl, but does not protest. I have scored a point. But it does remind me of the dogs gathered around me, still snarling. Funny, I had almost forgotten about them, though how you forget about snarling hounds that are about to rip you apart, I don’t know. It’s apparently possible.
Now that I’ve remembered them, they seem more threatening.
“You’re giving them the power to hurt you by acknowledging them. That voice never could stay silent for long.”
“That makes no sense. Tell me something useful for a change.”
“I can only tell you what you know, think you know, hope for, and fear.”
“Say what?” The voice has become confusing. That is, after all its nature. “So now you’re arguing that I should have faith in myself?”
“I never said anything about that. I am only saying what you wish to hear.”
“A minute ago you were trying to tear me down!”
“Ah, well, let’s forget about that.”
“What?! What do you mean?”
“Now that you’re feeling more optimistic, let’s forget about it.”
“You’re making absolutely no sense.”
“Have you ever thought that I might be making sense but you’re too stupid to understand it?”
“I thought we were talking about optimism here?!”
“That was a moment ago. Now we’re talking about the possible levels of your intelligence.”
I want to destroy something. I want to rip these snide comments from my mind. Destroy them. Make them go away.
“Now is that any way to think about me? I am, after all, a part of you. Do you think yourself annoying?”
“If you’re me then yes! I do. I do think myself annoying”.
“Well, at least you’ve admitted it. Pretence of being satisfied with yourself is most bothersome.”
“Oh, you’re calling me bothersome?”
“Yes.” This voice is threatening to drive me mad. Making my fingers lose their grip on what is sanity and what isn’t. “Oh you never knew that to begin with dear”, the voice whispers.
“I’m not insane!”
“No, you’re not insane. You merely don’t know if you’re sane. There’s a difference.”
“Oh nothing. Figure it out yourself.”
“But you are me! At least you said so.”
“Never mind. Now what are you planning to do about those dogs?”
Dogs? I had forgotten them again. But apparently I don’t need to do anything about them, because they’ve stopped snarling. They’re walking away, heads lowered and eyes downcast.
“Very good,” the voice in my head purrs.
“I didn’t do that! I didn’t do anything!”
“Oh, yes you did. You just don’t know it.”
“That makes no sense!”
“It makes perfect sense. You simply are lacking the will to try to understand it.”
“Was that supposed to be an insult?”
“It’s only the truth.”
“Who are you?!”
“I’ve told you. I am you.”
“Well maybe you’re me; but I’m not you!”
“That should be obvious shouldn’t it?”
“This is pointless.”
“No. All things have meanings. You just have to find them.”
What’s that supposed to mean?! I am getting irritated. Maybe our conversation seems odd to you, stranger, but it is very familiar to me. Conversations like this happen every day in my mind. Maybe I should be worried about my sanity, but I’m not. It’s not like I’m two different people or think I am; I just have conflicting emotions often. Giving voice to them helps me to calm myself; to understand what I’m feeling.
“Find out for yourself.”
And to that I have no answer.