Progress and Voices

“There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.”- Pink Floyd


I’ve been a busy little bee this past month, but I’ve been meaning to check in and tell you all something very important:

This is working.

Granted, I have gained a good ten pounds since starting all of this, but I am able to rationally attribute it to being a logical first leg of my journey. I have been making myself get in some exercise every day (which tends to always make me gain weight in the initial stages), I have not once allowed myself to purge this past month, and I have been allowing myself to eat whatever it is I feel like eating without feeling guilty afterwards. The weight gain, therefore, is no big mystery.

Normally, the packing on of ten pounds (TEN WHOLE POUNDS!) would send me into a depressive tail-spin that would only beget more binging and purging, more self-loathing and judgement, and so on and so forth. This time I’m doing my best to shrug it off as part of the deal. This time, I noticed the weight gain, looked around and realized: no one has dropped out of my life, most of my clothing still fits, I still have the use of my arms and legs…and the sky did not fall. Life is ooooo-kay.

Other recent triumphs include:

-getting myself to go a full day wearing a shirt that exposes both my back and arms…in front of people!

-acting in a short film where two other actors had to carry me! (Oh my goodness, that was hard).

-seeing my reflection in the mirror after getting out of the shower one morning and the first inner voice I heard said, “You’re not looking half bad, Haley” (I know that isn’t the most generous compliment in the world, but for a semi-positive voice to beat out one of my many Haley-bashing inner voices is progress).

-forcing myself take my morning walk/jog around Fresno High, where the football and volleyball teams were outside practicing (no small feat).

-hearing a dear friend tell me, “I feel like you only see 25% of your capabilities,” and instead of feeling that usual ache in the pit of my stomach that, if verbalized, would sound something like, “You’re wrong. I’m only worth 25% of the average person. You don’t know my dark secrets,” my inner voice was instead like, “I know! I’m damn sick and tired of it! Get ready because I am coming out!”

Now. Hopefully, you were able to take more from those bullet points than just the fact that I have voices in my head who talk to one another.  They are fascinating, if I do say so myself. Each voice has it’s own fully developed personality and an area or two of my life in which it prefers to interject. For instance,”The Mother Load”- the worst of them all- is a distinctly female voice who likes to employ guilt and shame tactics to make me feel bad about almost all of my life choices, whereas “High School Mean Girl” really only cares about what other women think of me. She is the main one who likes to see me purge after binging. “Cooler than You’ll Ever Be” is asexual, and is the voice who thinks I’ll never have any real friends and is shocked anyone has ever been desperate enough to sleep with me. “Religious Guilt” is a booming male voice; he is still pissed I didn’t save myself for marriage and is certain if I went to church once a week, I wouldn’t be having any of these problems to begin with. I may need to get better nicknames for these guys at some point; at least that’s what “Cooler Than You’ll Ever be” tells me.

There is another voice rambling around up there in that brain of mine. She is meek and mild, probably due to years of being bullied by the other voices. I picture her sitting in the corner, long arms wrapped around her legs,chin on her knees. Every time she lifts her head to quietly speak her mind, the other voices laugh and ridicule her.  “The Mother Load” does so from the vantage point of a chaise lounge in the dead center of this figurative room. She drinks a martini and wears a 1940’s formal gown with pearls. Her hair and make-up are pristine. Her figure is that of an old Hollywood film star.

“Cooler Than You’ll Ever Be” smokes a clove- because he/she is too damn cool for a regular cigarette- and keeps an eye on everyone else while gazing at his/her own reflection in a large bejeweled mirror. He/she wears suspenders and has a large tattoo across his/her chest- it’s a quote by Nietzsche, probably, or someone with an equally cynical world view.

“High School Mean Girl” sits cross-legged on the floor, wearing a cheerleading uniform and low, braided pig-tails tied with shiny ribbon. She smacks bubble-gum while thumbing through old picture albums of me, cackling after viewing every.single.picture. Every once in a while she adds a pitying, “Oh. My. Gawd,” while shaking her head in disgust.

“Religious Guilt” paces back and forth across the room, silently judging all the other voices. He thinks he is far superior and should be the only voice there, with the exception of “The Mother Load”. The two of them tend to agree on most issues.

But the quiet, meek little girl in the corner is getting fed up. She has started to voice her opinion more often, and is learning how to talk back, too. In fact, the other day when she told me, “You’re not looking half bad, Haley,” another voice (I’m pretty sure it was “High School Mean Girl”) immediately chimed in “except for that huge pimple on your right cheek and even bigger age spot on your left one”.  Usually that’s where the conversation might end, but on this particular day, the quiet little girl snapped back “both of those could be covered up easily with foundation, and neither of them have nothing on those bright, shining eyes of yours.”  I think the other voices were shocked into submission, because no one else said anything, and I cried for a good minute straight. Happy tears, of course- a minor victory won against my bathroom mirror and my cruel, antagonizing voices.

I haven’t named the quiet meek girl voice yet.

But I think I’m gonna call her “Haley”.

A friend posted this on Facebook the other day. I thought it was worth sharing 🙂

3 responses to “Progress and Voices

  1. ER

    thank you again. as you are inspired so you inspire others. part of your 200% of radness. I love your voices and moreover, how you give them voice, literally. This is, again, so well writ and this is what inspires me most. ❤ u BIG

  2. That quiet, meek little girl is one smart cookie–and obviously has better vision than all the others put together, because you are a beautiful (and smart, talented, funny, lovable…) woman!

  3. Nate

    I am so proud of you, I feel like I could be on the sidelines with pom-poms, cheering. You are an amazing person, Hayley, and not to put you on a pedestal (too much pressure), but you’re definitely one of my “heroes”. Thank you for sharing such personal insights with us; your journey is huge, but sharing your intimate thoughts is just as huge. My mind works in a manner not altogether different from yours, but I think I would be afraid to share those innermost voices with others, for fear of what they might think (another voice 🙂 Every time you write about yourself, I feel a definite identification. Your journey inspires me and challenges me to work on myself, too. Oh, one other thing — your writing is superb. You could be a novelist if you wished. You’re already a skilled essayist.

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