That Voice In Your Head – It’s not you…
In these posts, I share a little of my life, what makes me, me. Often the content is a bit strong – you have been warned.
When I was young life wasn’t exactly a ‘bowl of cherries’ you know, long summer days and money around to buy food, foreign holidays and new bikes – most days mother got a beating, if not a beating then verbal abuse and if not her then one of us would be the target at least for a mouthful of f’ing and c’ing.
Mother’s second ‘grown up’ relationship was worse than her first, I guess at least the first one never knocked her about. Yeah I know you’ve heard or seen the pattern before – indeed, it’s repeated up and the down the land as we speak.
My dad (first marriage to mother) a baker from North London had a penchant for young girls, preferably under sixteen and hopefully a bit naive, he never really wanted to bake anything – but enjoyed a sideline as a petty criminal – some of his minor crime ended up with time inside, normally months at her majesty’s pleasure and were very regular. In between there was the usual drink drive offences etc etc.
Her second marriage no better, he was a narcissistic burglar who liked to give women a ‘good hiding’ when he felt like it and for no other reason than he could, when sober it was verbal abuse and when drunk it got physical. Not in a kind of ‘I’ll teach you a lesson way’ but in a more controlled – I’m enjoying this, and carefully choreographed the entire event – managed to make the abuse last for hours. Certainly something of the sadist in this one.
In winter months (there was money around – made burglaries easier – dark evenings and all that) the abuse could start early, around nine and last into the early hours. Sometimes the house would be raided by police, looking for one of his ‘armed blagger’ associates or indeed to pick him up – respite from a night of abuse. Who’d ever welcome your house being raided at four in the morning? Uniformed and plainclothes coppers all over the house, turning stuff upside down, wardrobes opened and turned upside, ‘young ‘uns turned out of bed. Oh the pleasure of a police raid on a Wednesday morning – but hey, it beat the seemingly nightly abuse.
Let me put some perspective on that for you. If you can imagine yourself watching a movie, where a woman is tormented for six or seven hours at a time, by a drunken sadist who really wants to savour his efforts – but let’s say you can’t see it, like a podcast or a Story on Radio 4. You watch it with your eyes closed, the moans here and then the silences – just there to let your mind think it’s over, it’s ended for the night. The silence broken by thumps on an adjoining wall like it was being hit by a bat – when in fact it was actually a head – and then louder moans of pain and the occasional…
And then still using that imagination of yours, let’s assume it’s your mother you can hear in this story a real person being affected by it and creating the movie in real time – like it’s happening now.
That was what it was like, in the main – my childhood, kind of messes with your head, at least for a while if you let it. It wasn’t only me it was the others as well – but I was the oldest and never slept through it.
School was obviously respite, despite the fact that sleep was short. For some reason, a little bit of anger was present during most school days. My secondary school reports are a hoot. I always wondered how creative teachers could be, when once a year they had to describe what an arse I really was. Truth was, I have always been a sweet guy, with a fucking thorny outside – but like molten Galaxy chocolate on the inside. There wasn’t a single teacher at Minchendon that hadn’t marked my card because of the poison spread by Mr H – but I’d already marked his card – I knew what he was – I lived with one just like it.
Now with all that in mind – the real reason for writing.
I seemed to have spent my entire growing up years being told that I wasn’t good enough, that I would never become anything, never achieve, never become a worthy human being – thank your Mr Hounslow ( who was – on balance – an overweight narcissistic form teacher who in the first year at secondary school insisted on reading me my horoscope). I knew how to deal with the likes of him – after all I lived with one that was really able to deliver. Mr H’ had a penchant for the younger girls just like my real dad (if you are still alive Mr H – fuck you – one of the few people on the planet I do reserve the c word for ).
In junior school the Head, Mr Martin was a kindly figure, who kind of spotted that something wasn’t right and acted accordingly, every time he saw me there was a kind of exasperation on his face – a what now look, but he was cool and refreshing – even then old enough to be my grandad.
But at secondary school – fitting in was becoming hard. Life at home was not getting any better – although summer did bring respite. This at least meant I could go fishing and find myself out of the house for more of the time than usual – now the mandatory ‘summer with dad’ had ended, leaving him and the sixteen year old mother of his latest child some respite from us three older kids – she being only five years older than me!
Negative experiences at school delivered with a constant message of not being worthy, of not being good enough of not being able to deliver anything valuable for society. Constantly told I’d never become anything, not be of use. Reinforced by the voice in my head explaining how shit I really was and of course supported by a life at home that showed I was shit and from a shit family – just look how they all behaved, just look at some of the stuff they did – no one worked, everyone drank and they all stole. My future was sorted. Everyone knew what I was to become…. “No point in even trying to change that.” Yeah, Mr H, thank you for your kind support.
And this is how it all starts for many children, a system that won’t support them, parents not able or willing to support them – made worse by the constant pressure to have more, to have more money and a bigger TV, more stuff. I’m sure it’s a lot worse now than it was then, and it was bad then.
That’s Where It Started – The voice in my head, in your head.
This voice has been with me all of my life, it’s never been positive – it’s never really helped me or protected me – it’s just been there to reinforce what I was told by just about every other adult – I was not worthy, I am never good enough and I always mess up. I’m not educated enough, tall enough, not fit enough. Come on, you know how it goes.
This is the same voice that you have – only mine is mine. I have no idea what purpose it serves, if it’s my ego – my inner voice, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t care what it is – I just know it’s a liar. Every time I ignore it – life turns up a surprise, to show me that the voice was wrong, that it didn’t know, that it shouldn’t be listened to for any reason. In fact, I was in my forties before I realised this. Before you read on try this.
You can’t taste your tongue – go try. You can’t, that’s because it’s part of you (don’t get in touch with a biological explanation – I am not interested) your tongue is part of your DNA, your makeup your whole being. That’s why you can’t taste it. Using the same thought processes think about the voice, that inner arse that talks to you all day. You know it – you’ve heard it.
Read this slowly. If that inner voice was really you, was your guiding conscious, your ever knowing ‘inner you’ you’d never be able to hear it, for the same reason you can’t taste your tongue.
The real you, the part of you that can do, can sort, can solve – will grow into the life of your dreams provided you recognise that the voice you hear is not you – thereis no friggin’ way it can be you, no way it can be your guiding light and inner strength. If it was you – you’d never be able to hear it.
Go think about that. See how it feels, listen to the voice kick off, listen to how it will try and frustrate your thinking, how it will tell you to ignore this – that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s your ego, that’s the nutter that needs stopping
Problems with being told you are not worthy – even if that was forty years ago.
No matter who you are it’s your history that defines you today so we are told – it’s b.s isn’t it. Now they’d call it fake news – your history is just that – it tells you about the past – not the future. Don’t let that define you.
I know that much of the self-help information will tell that your history, your life before today has led you to here. This point in life, so it is important after all it’s yours. But that tiny comment about you not being up to it, not being able to do it, you needing to work harder. They all form baggage that you bring with you – unless you stop listening and move on from them. Even if they are twenty or thirty years in the past – they still bring anxiety but they are not the truth. The truth is that you are able, you are better than the voice or the opinions of a teacher or A.N Other adult at some point the in past. The world is full of Hounslows and the thing my mother married (both times – that’s mad eh). They exist to show you how not to behave, to teach you brilliant lessons in ‘how not to be a c’. The best lessons in life are these.
Problems with your history
Depending on the time in history when you were at school, this will dictate how it was, surrounded by miserable teachers who looked they were at the end of their lives – reality is, us being ten or twelve, even those in their thirties looked bloody old. Some of them determined to enjoy favouritism of one child over another or in one way or another – and those people that were just plain nasty. You and I have grown up surrounded by them.
All of these people conspire to leave you with feelings of loss, of waste, of not belonging, of wanting more. Sure school shouldn’t be like that. We shouldn’t treat kids like that. I had one teacher who would not make eye contact – so did my son; it feels deceitful, it feels like the person in front of us is not telling us the whole truth – why would any adult do that to a child?
I get down on my knees to talk to children, at eye level, their level. I did it with mine and I do it with family and friends – I don’t need to assert anything over anyone – certainly not children.
But we now know what it’s like being an adult – with the pressures it brings, if you are working with those pressures I’m sure it’s easy to bring them to work, into the classroom. That doesn’t make it right.
For you and me trying to get to grips with the voice in our head and our memory of our own history is not easy – and in order to deal with that – so we can move forward, having some empathy for the way others may well have felt should make it easier. For a few minutes, think about that. Put yourselves in the shoes of your old teachers, think about what it must be like, standing in front of the class from hell. Having to deal with all that faces them and you – when you are in the middle of a personal crisis. This doesn’t answer all of the questions – but at least allows you to think about what may have been going on and to offer up an explanation of why adults behave like they do.
If you are in any way concerned about that voice in your head, remember we all have it, we all have a history of something and that voice is a learned behaviour and it learns from the way we act around it, it learns from the things it makes us do. It learns that it can manipulate you. It learns from others and reinforces things. The thing you must understand about it is this, it’s childish, it’s not rational, it’s often not helpful – and it’s not you. The sooner you stop listening to it the quicker life will change.
You must live with your past and not in it, you must stop listening to the failure of last month or last year or that rotten childhood of violence and hatred, you have a short life left – we are all born with a terminal illness (life) and holding onto the bad things that have gone on before will do you no good, will not serve you looking forward, there is only one of you with one life and that makes you incredibly special. So pat yourself on the bum with a well done in your head and start to live – like you can, like you should. There is a fantastic future head. Ask the right questions of your necktop computer, feed it the right information and enjoy the results.
But stop listening to the voice, you are not mad and are not broken. You are a perfectly flawed and lovely human that is loved and wanted – you will also go on to do great things, bring change. If only you stop for a moment – think but not listen.
This months podcast also covers this in a bit more detail and it’s here
I’ll leave comments open for a while, check back soon as I’ve got more content coming on this subject. You can also subscribe and you’ll get an email as I update, amend and put new stuff out. Some of its business related – the lessons are timeless.