Mice & Multiple Personality Disorder

Posted on November 1, 2010

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I have about 17 ideas for blog posts in my head.  I could write about politics, or about how I don’t believe there is such thing as a slut, or about how our minds are like houses, or just about how great it was to have the in-laws in town this past weekend.  But the problem is that I have one very critical critic, and I honestly can’t type a sentence without hearing in my head what her feedback will be.

She is a perfectionist, so even one typo, and she makes fun of me.  She is single, and not afraid to complain when my blog is far too cheesy for her liking, or deifies relationships in any way.  She is compassionate, so if she can think of any minorities or even one person who would be hurt by what I write in a post, she gets angry.  The very worst part is that she is irrational, and so I never know when a blog post should be removed from the internet immediately and every copy of it deleted because it is verbal poison, or when the real problem is that her hormones are going crazy so she had to rail against something (and decided my blog would be the perfect punching bag).

I can’t shake her feedback, because the problem is, I care what she thinks.

My favorite part of family vacations used to be staying in a hotel, because where there is a hotel, there is a pool.  I remember my brothers and I walking through the door of our hotel room, putting our suitcases on the floor, and immediately begging to go swimming.  My parents would look at each other, Whose turn is it this time? , and one of them would go into the bathroom to put on their bathing suit and bring us downstairs to the pool where they were alternately splashed, ridden, kicked, and forced to listen to the high pitched laughter of children bouncing off the high ceilings.

I remember thinking I don’t get why grown-ups don’t like swimming.  Even when I’M a grown-up, I will definitely still love to swim. And right after that thought, I would dive under water and open my eyes and sit, looking at the (beautiful?) underwater world of a hotel pool.

Now, when I don’t swim, I feel guilty.  My family has a pool in the back of their house, and there are days when John and Rose will swim for hours and hours, diving to pick up plastic weights from the bottom of the pool and jumping off the diving board a million times in a row.  Their boring older sister sits and reads.

“Come in!” Rose begs me every time.

And I respond with some variation of: “But I’d have to take my contacts out… what about my hair… it’s too cold… I’d rather just tan…” And whenever I am being lame like that I can practically see an apparition of little Farrell sitting on the edge of the pool with her Little Mermaid swimsuit on, looking at me with wide blue-eyed disappointment.

I’m sorry, Little Farrell. You grew up (!) to be an adult who doesn’t love to swim.

College Farrell does the same thing, because, you see, my biggest critic is… me.

She reads my blogs and scoffs at them.  She raises her eyebrows when she hears that I am one of those Wheaton girls who got a ring by spring.  She watches me cook and tells me I might as well throw on an apron and pearls and admit it- I’m a Wifey.  She reads It Only Takes One and laughs, Yeah well what if I don’t want one?


Here is what Anne Lamott tells me to do with my old college self:

Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up. Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the tail, drop it in the jar. And so on. Drop in any high-maintenance parental units, drop in any contractors, lawyers, colleagues, children, anyone who is whining in your head. Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like @#$% because you won’t do what they want — won’t give them more money, won’t be more successful, won’t see them more often. Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle. Turn it all the way up for a minute, and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guiltmongering voices. Then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to you…

A writer friend of mine suggests opening the jar and shooting them all in the head. But I think he’s a little angry, and I’m sure nothing like this would ever occur to you.

The problem is, I do not want to shoot College Farrell Prestige-style, or even silence her in the confines of a Mason jar.  She challenges me.  I want to remember how she felt and what she was passionate about, because she is part of me.  And although she’d never admit it, she could learn a thing or two.  She was lonely.  And although the loneliness is gone, the rest of her is not, and I think it’s a good thing to live in the tension between the things that I used to be passionate about and the things I am passionate about now.  And besides,  her critique stops me from writing inane blog posts.  She’s still in here somewhere, and if nothing else… her crazy hormones have definitely stuck around.

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Posted in: Seriously