You’re always there, like a sticky-handed, naughty, screaming child chasing me around.
You’re there first thing in the morning.
You’re there when I collapse into bed at night.
You’re there all day long, throughout each errand I do and every phrase I write.
Do more, you say. Work harder, you say. Don’t be so lazy, you say. Be better, you say.
Even though you live inside my head and perch yourself so comfortably on the willowy branches of my thoughts, I can’t control you.
You control me.
Your constant whispers poison my thoughts and make my heart thump like a hummingbird hyped up on ten cups of extra-dark Peruvian coffee.
I blindly believe what you say.
I follow your militant instructions and push myself past my body’s limits, ignoring her exhausted pleas for rest and relaxation and laughter and fun.
I don’t stop until I fall to the ground, raw and lifeless, shaking in a ball on my cold tile floor.
Even then, I still hear your whispers. I still believe them.
By then, though, your whispers have turned into abusive, rhythmic screams that go something like this:
“Get up off the floor you lazy bitch! You shouldn’t be so tired. You’re fucking pathetic!”
That’s when I start to sob.
I sob deep, heavy sobs because it seems like I can’t ever please you.
And it’s true, I can’t. You’re downright impossible. You’re a perfectionist so obsessive you can paralyze me in a single sentence.
But, not today.
Because today, on this seemingly normal day, as my tears dampen my purple pashmina scarf, a subtle yet deeply profound shift occurs: I give up catering to your whims.
I decide I’m done bowing to your never-ending list of ridiculous demands.
I exhale a breath I’ve been holding in for weeks, months, years.
I give in to my body’s needs and burrow for miles under my thick yellow blanket.
I pour myself a cup of honey lemon ginger tea and drink it so slowly.
Then, I work up the courage to address you directly—yes, you—the critical voice that stalks me in broad daylight. I shake, but I still manage to say “Come closer, my love, we need to talk.”
“What do you want?”
You stall for a few seconds, as if to see if I’m really listening. Then you say this:
“I want you to be strong and determined. Fearless and ambitious. Wildly successful. I want you to fight so hard for the life you deserve. I don’t want you to waste a second. I want you to be the absolute fucking best you can be.”
My eyes bug open and my jaw hits the floor, because underneath it all, you’re on my side.
You’re a little misguided, obsessive, and quite manic, yes; but in truth, you want me to succeed so badly.
You want me to have a beautiful life.
A beautiful life is all I want, too.
So, I look you square the eyes and wholeheartedly promise to honor your wishes.
But, I also tell you that I have to slow down. Right now.
Because I cannot keep up this frantic pace, even for a moment more.
I remind you that to have a truly beautiful life, I need to enjoy sunshine and smile and look at the stars; I need to bask in wide-open weekends and indulge and be lazy.
You hesitantly agree and roll your eyes slightly, still suspicious of my motives.
I take your hand and successfully seduce you to spend an afternoon in bed with me.
For I can tell that you too, are seemingly exhausted beyond repair.
So, we curl up awkwardly together and begin a fabulous first step towards the life we’re trying to build:
We take tender care of me.
We learn the art of doing nothing.
And, I think it surprises us both—because it feels so natural and brilliant.
Yes; it feels so fucking good.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Rolands Lakis/Flickr