It was a sunny day although rather cold when I took my inner critic for a walk. I wanted some space so I kept a comfortable distance from her; both of us walking a tire track on the road. I felt uncomfortable, yet I wanted to give her an opportunity to get some fresh air - get the cobwebs out of her hair and off her rather miserable looking jacket. She was old and gnarly, yet the size of a child. She hobbled and sort of whined every now and then. We walked in silence, yet it wasn't that peaceful silence I've grown to love. It was awkward. I felt her obstinance and I started questioning myself. Had I done something already that she'd disapproved of... perhaps I had chosen the wrong path. Maybe it was the wrong time of day? Too much sun glare? Too cold? Suddenly I stopped myself. I realised I had already linked into her energy. How devious! I shook my head and laughed out loud.
"Very tricky", I said to her.
She glared at me with judgment. "What do you think this will do?" she said sharply. "You and I both know you are worthless."
I listened to her waffle on and continued walking, while she hobbled. After another moment of silence, I asked, "What is your purpose?"
Without hesitation she said, not without contempt, "To keep you small. To silence you. To sabotage and demean you... "
I got the idea.
I kept walking and waited, the air clear and fresh on our faces.
"What else do you need to say?" I asked again.
"I'll always find a flaw in everything you do. That's my job".
"You are exceptional at it!" I applauded her.
She scowled and stopped in defiance. She was angry.
"You have my attention" I said, "Isn't that what you want?"
The sun was descending into the west casting a beautiful golden light over the mountains and fields. A river trickled by to our left in a soothing serenade.
I looked into her hazy yet piercing eyes. "What is it that you really want to say?" I pressed.
It looked as though she was about to burst with anger. Her knobby legs shook. Her absurdly long fingers were clenched so tight her knuckles turned white. Her face was screwed up in all sorts of contortions and then in an instant she let out an enormous sigh and sunk onto the earth.
In that moment her energy changed. All around was quiet, as if pausing just for her. The trees and grass hushed in the breeze. The clouds hung in anticipation across the fading sky.
"I am afraid" came the words.
As the wind picked up I hugged my shawl, pulling it closer to my chest. "Yes", I said quietly.
"I am afraid I will not be seen... I'm afraid that I will not be heard and that I do not exist".
Tears welled in her eyes. Her face had changed to not be so grotesque, rather soft and innocent, yet full of fear and sorrow.
I sat down in front of her and waited.
"I have to throw a tantrum to be noticed" she said "And, if I am perfect then they will see me. I will be loved".
I felt the tears in my eyes now. My critic was tiny, innocent and hadn't grown up yet. I opened my heart and kept listening in case she needed to say more, to be heard or be seen.
"I have had to be something else other than myself so then maybe I will be seen, I will exist". she continued quietly.
"Yes" I responded gently. "We did that for a while".
Another long pause entered the space as the sun dipped lower to kiss the peaks of the mountains.
"What is it that you need?" I asked slowly.
"I need to feel safe" she replied.
The air between us seemed to gradually grow warmer, more comfortable and open. I felt compassion and love for this child-like part of myself. She was fragile, yet strong. I held her in that moment and I agreed that I would listen to her. She needed to be validated and heard; to know that she was important and that she was safe. Now she had the opportunity to mature in her own time - with my support and guidance as the adult.
As dusk fell around us, the stars began to twinkle. A crescent moon smiled crookedly from above as if in a private sort of joke. The wind was getting colder so I stood and looked at the child.
"Shall we go home now?" I smiled.
She nodded "Yes".
I reached out my hand and she took it. We walked back along the road, crooked moon smile illuminating the way. With the breeze pushing us along, we walked in silence. We'd been seen and heard and held by the sun. Homeward now, to be friends.
Written by Laura Naomi
© 2018 Laura Naomi, "Wellness for the Soul"
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