Monday 23 January 2017

Naming my inner critic

Back in the mid-1980s I was PA to a very unpleasant gentleman who I will call Mr McNasty. Mr McNasty was a bully, a control freak and a misogynist. He ran a department full of women and even his second-in-command was afraid of him. Mr McNasty told me that I'd "never be anything but a lowly secretary". Okay, I pledged on that day, I'll show him. By the end of the decade I was a senior copywriter in a large advertising agency.

I always wanted to show this sad little man that his bullying actually prompted me to advance my career - to march up the ladder culminating in my present career as a freelance copywriter. But I never got the chance because I never saw him again.

A few years ago I did see him - scuttling towards the local library while I was waiting to pick up my son from school. How I longed to run over, give him a prod in the back and show him how his cruel remark had transformed my career and my life.

(And to tell him that, yes, it was me who deleted absolutely everything - data, documents and all - from my word processor on the day I left, mwah ha ha ha [in the days before central servers and backups].)

So what point am I making?

We all have our inner critics - that nasty little voice at the back of our mind that criticises everything we do. That negative voice that tells us that we'll never do such-and-such, that it's 'too big' or ambitious. The negative voice that's been so very present in my journey through PTSD and also during my son's eating disorder.

So the other week I decided to give this horrible voice a name. I called it Mr McNasty. Whenever my inner critic spews out negative stuff, I try to imagine it as Mr McNasty who told me I'd never be anything but a secretary and a ton of other stuff. Whenever this happens I say: "Pah! I'll show him."

It's not easy, of course.

But ever since I learned that I'm going to be on this PTSD recovery journey alone, sans any further professional help, I've realised that I am going to have to be my own therapist if I want to recover. To read books and articles, to try techniques and tools, and to ease myself back into my pre-PTSD life. Because the alternative is like being chained to Mr McNasty's office for the rest of my life. In other words, under the control of PTSD and all the inner critic stuff that comes with it.

And I refuse to let that happen.

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