The rent is due

stopThe things that stick with us the longest are kind of funny in a way.

No matter what positive feedback I get in my day to day life as an adult,  there will always be seven year old me inside my brain to counter it. “You’re UGLY!  Too fat!  Crazy!  Nobody cares about you!” She giggles like some sort of annoying poltergeist that I can’t exorcise from my house. Doesn’t matter if it’s 3am and I’m barely awake, or if it’s 2pm on a workday and I’m trying to get things done- there she is. Don’t know really who invited her because it’s not like she even brings snacks.

She’s the boy in second grade who told me to kill myself. The teacher who told me I was too dumb to get into college in sixth grade. The doctor who told me I would be prettier and happier if I just lost weight.  The people who gave up on me because I couldn’t just “snap out of it”. At the end of it, she’s me. Never happy with myself, always the pessimist and the harsh critic.  It’s me versus me versus them inside my head twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. If it’s exhausting just to read that sentence, you get the idea.

It used to take me three hours just to get dressed in the morning, because I’d try on everything I owned six times. Allowing time in between to scream at myself for looking disgustingly fat, punching myself in the gut, and re-composing myself.  I’d hold in all my emotions, no matter how much I was justified in feeling them for fear that the person would see the real “psycho” me and leave. Better to be a doormat than to be alone. Better to be sick than to be fat. Better never to try than to be confronted with possible failure.

So I guess it’s fair to ask why I let it happen.

Why do I bother ruminating over things that usually happened a long time ago, can’t be changed, and in the long run are from people who don’t matter? Why do I let them live rent free in my head, running up the electric bill and eating all the ice cream?  I’ve been sitting here pondering that for the last half hour and the only answer I have for you is, “I don’t know.” But I guess you can consider this my eviction notice. I will never be perfect, but I am not going back to where I started. I have gained weight, but that doesn’t make me disgusting. I have lost friends, but that does not mean I’m a monster. I have messed up so many times in so many ways, but I am by no means a failure. I AM ME. And as landlord of me, I no longer possess the time and patience to let my life be run by a snotty seven year old.

I will slip up. I will negative self-talk, fall back into bad habits and I am sure that there will still be rough nights. But for the first time, what matters is that I am trying. I am fighting. I know that in the end, victory is not a destination, but a temporary state that I need to renew.  If the only victory I can muster some days is being strong enough to walk out of the house and ignore the mirror, than it is still victory.

Brittany Bell is our guest blogger.  She is a 25 year old peer support specialist at Youth MOVE Massachusetts.  She has recently created and held a workshop on Youth Crisis boxes for PPAL’s annual conference.  She hopes to bring awareness and support to the learning disability and mental health communities by sharing her experiences.  When not advocating and blogging, Brittany likes to spend time creating art, gaming and playing with her bearded dragon.

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12 Responses to The rent is due

  1. Lisa Fenichel says:

    Excellent and moving — no matter who one is, the negative-voice tenant always seems to find a room in our heads (and make way too much noise)! An eviction notice is a perfect metaphor. Let’s let the postive voices take up that space instead!

  2. Nancy says:

    What a great job you did of describing something many of us do to varying. Keep blogging. By the way, I also hate it when someone eats my ice cream.

  3. Alicia says:

    I enjoy reading your Blog Brittany… What a very clever way of stating your facts and your title. “The Rent is Due” I really like how you now take control over your own thoughts and evict those unnecessary negative and unwanted thoughts that other gave you or you believed in yourself. My saying is…..”IF it’s not your ownership, give it back to whom it belongs to” Often we as people internalize what people try to give to us and we than internalize it and make it our own. ” Great Blog! Great Work! and continue to believe in yourself! Alicia

  4. Shannon Corssbear says:

    Great job. It is often difficult to replace those messages, practice helps. Reminders help. I am not above taping new messages on the mirror. I am BAD. Beautiful, Articulate and Determined. Keep writing and sharing.

  5. Ann says:

    Wonderful take on that little voice in our heads that tells us the bad stuff…like you Brittany, it’s time to cancel the lease on the renter in my head. Thank you for putting it so well.

  6. Meri says:

    Britt….
    Rock on! You continue to say so many things necessary for both youth and adults to remember. I
    Am a mom. You have credentials of lived experience and more.

    My takeaway is: watch, listen, teach everyone to be kinder. Messages stick!!!

  7. Judi Maguire says:

    Why is it we remember the negatives and not the positives? You are doing great work. Change the locks and raise the rent – you’re worth it 🙂

  8. Tina Adams says:

    Brett, that was an amazing piece of literature to read. I find myself inside your head feeling what you felt.

    Your words were so strong and so true. A lot of young adults and adults will face those same battles each and every day.

    Your positive outlook and your strength to go on day in and day out, not letting those voices in your head slow you down or pull you back are very encouraging.

    Great blog and I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Positive encouragement. Just what people need!!!

  9. Tara says:

    Inspiring! I love your statement about victory being a temporary state to renew. It’s empowering to remember that when we struggle victory will come again. Thanks for sharing this!

  10. Matt Canuteson says:

    I think your former tenant is somehow related to mine!
    Great way to describe negative self talk.
    I told mine they could stay if they were quiet, I now know that they can actually be evicted!
    Keep up the GREAT work!

  11. Ann Capoccia says:

    Thanks so much for your Blog Brittany – and such an articulate description of those voices in our heads that keep sending negative comments – I think we all have them in some way – so good to hear you evicting them and moving to a better place with folks that really care about you !! Keep at it !!! Ann

  12. Carol Trust says:

    Brittany,
    What a moving metaphor: the unwanted tenant–in our head. I am not aware of any surgical procedure (metaphorically) that evicts those unwelcome voices, however I do play with the volume control, turning the negative voices down to better hear the enlightened ones. thank you.