In 2015, I had a problem with my voice. Or more accurately, allowing myself to have a voice.
Whether I ever had one could be debated, given that I was previously posting a whole lot of nail pictures and not a lot of Martha. Actually that’s why I started Martha Is in the first place – to literally be able to say I AM.
Not in a Jesus-y way.
I do speak in real life (sorry – “#IRL”). On a 1:1 basis with people I trust, sometimes I don’t shut up. But when it comes to acquaintances, colleagues, and this little corner of the internet, I feel a lot like that woman from Orange is the New Black. You know, the one who is mute and when you go back you find out she initially tried to speak but couldn’t quite get the words out, then she was in that hippy cult until she pushed her douchey husband off a cliff? I’ve been busy censoring my own speech, to the point where the idea of speaking (or putting pen to paper) has become terrifying, until something sparks anger or upset and I can rant as if my brain is exploding.
Frankly, that is the problem – my brain is exploding. You could also refer to it as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (aka, GAD) – my brain is worrying at a mile a minute.
Once, I did a training course on Active Listening. The trainer was making a point about how our inner voice speaks words at a much faster pace than we’re able to listen to. So instead of actually listening to what another person is saying, we are already five steps ahead, critiquing it and planning what we’re going to say next.
While I was feeling rather relieved at the implication that everyone else has one of these inner voices, the trainer continued. To illustrate his point, he asked for a few seconds of silence to really listen to how fast our inner voices speak. My inner voice – let’s call her Wanda – actually stopped and uttered the phrase “Uh-oh..”. Because GAD is responsible for disordering things. Thanks to GAD, Wanda wasn’t just benignly chattering away. Wanda was worrying about being discovered. In fact, Wanda was worrying about being discovered worrying. Like some freaky Anxiety Inception, a worry within a worry. Takes up a lot of energy, that.
So, my head is pretty crowded, filling up with word vomit. Imagine someone with a palm full of money, “making it rain”. Wanda has a palm full of words and an irritatingly cavalier attitude. The natural assumption would be that with all these words flying around my head, I would love talking. Like one of those Chatty Cathys who talks so fast it’s like they never actually think. Perhaps they don’t have a Wanda, the words are just immediately diverted to their mouths.
I’m not one of those.
GAD also puts a block between Wanda (tearing up the joint, making it rain) and my actual voice. In fact, GAD encourages her to go to town – good things, bad things, mad things, trains of thought careering round and round – until the moment of speech. Then GAD slams the door in Wanda’s face, whips up the drawbridge and readies the sniper rifle, “don’t even think about it, missy!”. Where once I was the schoolchild, proudly reading my work aloud to the class with absolute clarity, I now stumble and mumble in an embarrassing fashion until I shut up completely.
Wanda imagines streams of elegant prose and witty retorts, until GAD steps in and sneers “don’t even think about writing that down, I’ll turn your thoughts into mush faster than you can open that word document. It’s for your own good, Wanda, you’re nuts”. I tend to side with GAD. Just in case.
Now we’ve reached January, the Season of Resolution. In typical fashion, Wanda is going all out on the things I should do in 2016, quickly followed by GAD pointing out that I have no willpower.
Wanda says we need to lose weight because we have two weddings this year, plus we’re losing patience with society’s reluctance to clothe our cumbersome rolls of fat; buuut let’s be honest, we’ll waste a load of money on memberships to Slimming World and the local gym and chocolate will win out eventually, until we stop going to both because everyone is judging us – YES, EVERYONE. Then we’ll be doubly worse off because we’ll have no money and still be fat. GAD concurs.
Ooh, how about we save money this year? We hate the cream coloured walls of our rented flat and the fact that we pour thousands of pounds into some other sod’s mortgage rather than investing in a mortgage of our own. Well, I suppose if we’re being realistic, we’ll pretend we’re saving while continuing to buy a Costa coffee every morning and impulsively ordering monthly stationery subscription boxes from that bright and colourful American crafting website, because we’re CREATIVE gosh darn it, and this will be the year that GAD actually let’s us loose! Maybe with a GLUE GUN! But ONLY if we have the right supplies!!
GAD chuckles and rolls his eyes at Wanda. Wanda sighs and says “GAD’s right, we should stop this silly hopeful nonsense. We will not lose any weight, or save any money. Our boyfriend will eventually leave us, our friends will get busy and ‘lose touch’. We’ll probably graduate to just injecting sugar into our eyeballs until we become so large that we have to be hoisted out of our single bed in the council flat that we will inevitably have been banished to following the bankruptcy brought on by our entirely unnecessary credit card debt. Throw in a hamster, why not? We would say cat, because the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype would be so very apt, but we like cats, and remember this future we’re worrying about is meant to be BLEAK, so we must assume it’ll be a hamster – we hate hamsters. And rats. Let’s make it a rat.”
While I continue this dance of lunacy with GAD and Wanda, the one thing I now realise I must do in 2016, is to give myself permission to be. I can even give Wanda permission to bounce around my brain with anxiety intoxication, but I don’t have to listen all the time. Then, perhaps, it’s time to speak.
So, here it is.
I am here. I exist.
Generally, Anxiously, Disordered.
A Clinically Obese Bookworm.
A Curly-Haired Psychology Nerd.
A Chocolate-Inhaling Rape Survivor.
A Film-Loving Feminist.
In 2016, I’m allowing myself to say that I am not a lazy, inconsistent blogger; simply, a person who is often preoccupied with telling Wanda to Shut The Fuck Up.