Maybe you've had one, maybe you've been blessed enough not to, but for the majority of my life I've had internal bullies. Those little voices in your head that tell you that you look fat, that only an idiot could fail, that you're wasting your time, that you're not Enough. They love to rear their heads when you're feeling great (can't have you on too high a horse now), but their speciality is most definitely kicking you when you're down.
At the best of times, my bullies will be annoying twinges of self consciousness. Like, when I look at a photo of myself or look in the mirror and really hone in on my one eye being squinty while the other isn't. Most times, it doesn't bother me, it's because of my eye disease and there's nothing to be done about it. But other times it really, really, really pisses me off that I went from having two beautiful matching eyes to a misshapen set.
At the worst of times, when I'm laid up on the couch with one of my myriad stomach issues and haven't been able to clean or craft or do much of anything except feel like shit, the inner bullies chime in to remind me how useless I am. They love to point out the leaves that have blown in to the front hallway, the dust on the shelves, the clothes waiting to be put away. They tell me I'm a piss-poor excuse for an adult, for a woman and for a wife. They love to personify things like my sketchbook, letting me know how forlorn and lonely it is; how I'm a terrible so-called Artist who doesn't even pick up a pencil for weeks at a time sometimes.
It's all internalized, which is the worst part of it all. I haven't been bullied by anyone in over a decade. I make it a point to only surround myself with encouraging and uplifting relationships. Sometimes, when I'm sitting alone, hating my treacherous body and all of its issues, I wonder if all the severe bullying I had to go through growing up has left me with such deeply engraved feelings of "not enough" that I still haven't overcome them. After all, I was the kid that got spit on, kicked and laughed at for being poor, wearing glasses and having braces. I was tormented by other girls for not "dressing right". Kids would come in to class, sharpen their pencils, and sit behind me poking me in the back with them... just waiting for a reaction. Most times they were disappointed; I became very good at bottling things up. But if I did, those cretins would double up the attack. It only got worse as I grew older and went in to middle and high school. But, like all good bottlers, I sucked it up and held it in lest it get any worse.
Somedays I'm surprised that I never did worse than drink and scar myself.
Part of me feels that blaming my inner bullies on the after effects of having such miserable interactions with other kids is a load of bullshit. That they're a sneaky, asshole part of my depression rearing its horrible head in smaller ways. Honestly, it doesn't matter why they're here still, it just matters that they are.
And since my heart was cracked wide open a few years ago and I really opened myself up to feeling and receiving emotions of all sorts again and quit bottling, I've become very sensitive to them. That snide self-talk remark can leave me wounded for hours and I don't like explaining what's wrong to anyone because it feels so very shameful to say essentially, "I thought something mean about myself and hurt my own feelings."
But it's the truth; that's exactly what happened.
And you know what?
I'm tired of it happening, I'm tired of being my own biggest critic and bully. It's time to stop the hurtful negative self-talk and begin a more positive discourse within myself. It's time to take back all of my power and not let those pockets of self sit under the rule of a feeling without my best interests at heart.
I'm going to slip up and stumble along the way, just like with any personal or spiritual growth, and that's O.K. It's how I get back up from those falls that really matters.