There’s a sinister voice that lives inside of me. A dark, depraved thing always lying in wait. It’s temporarily quieted by whatever I can occupy myself with at any given time. Though in my slower moments, when my distractions thin out, it is empowered. Scolding me for feeling happy. Violently attempting to destroy any goodwill I’ve managed to build up. It is depression. It is doubt. It is anger. It is regret. It speaks with my father’s voice, using my father’s words.
Some people grow up in loving, supportive households. I did not. A happy home was a luxury I was only allowed to experience via saccharine sitcoms on television. My home was one where I grew up deathly afraid that my own father was going to kill me at any given, unpredictable moment. It wasn’t an unfounded fear. It was that was quickly instilled in me after years of physical and mental abuse. My father was a sad, unhappy man who focused his life frustrations solely on me. Nothing I did merited any level of praise or support, only scorn and derision.
He’s dead now. Died over a decade ago. But his anger lives on. His victim complex lives on. His unyielding discouragement lives on. His rage lives on. All, unfortunately, in me.
For the longest time, I tried to silence the voice with drugs and a capricious lifestyle filled with wondrous irresponsibility. Everything was secondary to a life of partying. I was making up for lost time. Enjoying in my 20’s a childhood I never properly experienced at the age-appropriate time. All the joys and woes that come with growing up that most people experience in their teens, I was going through well past the proper expiration date. Armed with a permission slip of an excuse: “I never had a childhood.” That excuse gave me the carte blanche to unknowingly treat those around me with the same disrespect and lack of compassion I was shown growing up. To selfishly barrel through life, alienating many of those in my life.
As time passed, so did my clinging onto immaturity. The drugs, the partying, the thoughtlessness, the excuses, eventually fell to the wayside. I began to create things again. Writing, music, acting, painting, and so on. I began to truly treat others with the love and respect I never knew. But the dark monstrosity lived on. Whispering at times. Yelling at others. Always admonishing. Always talking down to me. Making me doubt myself. Making me feel like I “can’t do anything right.” Echoes of a single parent who behaved like he hated his only son.
It’s words like those that haunt me still. No matter what I do in life, what I accomplish, or how good I might feel, my father eventually arrives to loudly air his disappointment. It’s caused me to recoil inward for the longest time. To build lovely walls that keep everyone out. To keep me safe and secure away from everyone else, just as he would’ve wanted. People can’t judge what they don’t see, you see.
I’m likely never not going to hear his voice in the back of my head. I’ll be momentarily proud of doing something and my father’s voice will arrive, casting doubt. Criticizing me. Filling me with doubt and regret over every action and inaction. But I’m going to try to keep plugging on. I may not be able to ever fully shut him up, but I have been able to temporarily muffle his words. Hopefully, with enough time and enough hard work, the voice might finally have something positive to say.