What Voices?

I should know by now that when my daughter says something I immediately reject, I’m going to be thinking about it for the rest of the day, and ultimately, grudgingly, agreeing with her. What did she say this time?

“Are those the voices in your head?”

This was her response to Welcome to the Family. I had done an attack reading: “Hey! Want to hear my newest poem? It’s not about you guys.” (Commence reading before she gets away.)
In standard reactionary-mom-mode, I answered quickly with little thought: “No, those are the voices from my childhood.”

Not to be confused with the voices in my head now. Right. Even a casual glance at my Trivial Musings about writing reveal how strong and loud those voices still are.

She didn’t point out my other lie, though, most likely because she didn’t recognize it—of course it’s about them too. When I force my writing on them (usually because I’m desperate to read it out loud to somebody and they’re the ones who are here), I do hear in their responses (or lack of response) Let us take those for you…it’s trash night. There’s always a tinge of condescension, of dismissal, real or imagined I’m not sure. I suspect imagined, that’s why I think she didn’t call me out on saying it wasn’t about them.

I decided to risk another attack-reading and caught my husband while he was getting dressed for work. I read the poem, no preface, and waited for his response. First, he asked me to reread the third stanza and while he mulled that over, I had to tell him what I was up to. What did he think?

“I think a lot of people will relate to this one,” he said, “anyone who has felt undervalued or negated. Sometimes that voice is going to be me, or the kids, or interactions with other people, or the cat. A lot of people have felt this way.”

Pleasantly stunned. He really got it. I was afraid he might take it personally, think I was complaining about them, but no, he understood perfectly and went for the broader interpretation. Maybe because we share similar childhoods, he recognized those voices for what they are. They are you, and them, and me, and my childhood, and every teacher I’ve ever had, and dozens of others. They are my deepest feelings. Undervalued and negated. They are the voices in my head.

But for now, after talking to him, they’re just a little bit quieter.