“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” -African Proverb
My biggest enemy resides inside… it’s a voice I’ve had with me since I was a child. But it’s a sneaky, deconstructing voice. It doesn’t tell me overtly that I am wrong, or insignificant, or that the things I do and fail to do are terrible things… it is a voice that lurks and waits for me to be at my lowest. That whispers in my ear that I’m not doing all that I’m capable of doing, that I can’t possibly continue, that I should do more, that I won’t get better, or be enough.
It doesn’t tell me I’m not good at my job… but it gets me out of bed at 3 AM to send an email because I awaken in a cold sweat worried about a deadline. The voice doesn’t accuse me of being a bad mother, but it does tell me that my kids don’t get enough of my time and they are probably suffering for it. It’s not implied that I don’t care about the people in my life, but I am reminded that my friends and family don’t see me enough. That I don’t make enough time. I‘m not told that I don’t do anything right, but the voice insists that the missed phone calls, the unsent emails, and the unpaid bills on my desk that are a day behind are a reflection of all my glaring deficiencies.
My faults rise up from the cracks that the voice creates. Where I am less than, what I lack, what I didn’t do, what I couldn’t accomplish. Where I’m just not enough. It chokes the joy out of accomplishment and makes burnout and fatigue all to familiar conditions. There is a daily pattern of rise and fall, step forward and shrink back. Question and critique.
It’s this voice that deconstructs me from my very core systematically breaking me down. It’s death by a thousand small cuts. The voice retreats into the darkness after inflicting the damage leaving me alone with the aftermath.
So, after a week of dialogue, the voice has fallen silent. Peace, however momentary, gives me a chance to pause, to exhale, and hopefully to sleep… I won’t ever completely be free of the voice, but I can emerge from its shadow. Enough.