Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Devil in My Ear

"You do know you're not very good, don't you?" came his calm, baritone voice, smooth as the finest silk.

He was so well spoken - so artful and articulate. His voice, merely one of his vices, was enough to entice anyone to listen. Soft, yet commanding - as if he spoke only truth and wisdom.

“I’m good enough,” I argued, though perhaps with little credence.

Why do I always answer back? I take up his words like bread crumbs all the while knowing they only lead to more abuse – more sadness. But stubbornness is my vice.

“Hmm, perhaps. But you’ll mess up,” he chuckled, sending fire through my veins to warm my cheeks. “You’ll be an embarrassment to yourself and all who know you.”

He always knew the chinks in my armor – aiming his worded dagger with skill and precision. It’s true. I feared failure above most anything. The only anxiety to equal it was that of losing the respect of others.

The tip pierced a place not yet healed from the last wound, bringing moisture to my eyes. Too easily I could give in to self-doubt. Years of his abuse made sure of that. But was it fair to believe the worst of my friends and family? Would they be so fickle?

Clearing my throat, I replied, “Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we learn to improve.”

“Then your ‘lessons’, as you call them, are piling up.”

He always had a “come back” – always another weapon to brandish.

“My dear, honestly, why do you punish yourself?” he sighed, as if he truly cared anything for my suffering. “Why keep grasping for something your arms are too short to reach?”

The simple truth? I often wondered myself why I refused to give up. With every obstacle cleared only to be presented with another, who wouldn’t, in their right mind, resign?

As often as this question came up, the answer was firmly planted inside me. To quit would deny me everything my heart held fast to. In the end, my dreams were mine alone. Nothing, and no one, could take them from me.

Normally, this would be the point in this recurring debate where I would say nothing. Never quite as clever as him, I could seldom find the words that spoke from my soul. But, today was different. Our many unwelcome conversations prepared me for this.

Choking back the tears, I lifted my head high - looking at my dreams lingering like clouds over my head.

“I reach for what I cannot touch, knowing that I may never embrace it, but believing that I will be rewarded for my effort.”

Anticipating a harsh rebuttal, I was not prepared for what he would say next... nothing. The weight of his defeat lay heavy by his stillness. Could this be true? Had I finally spoken the words to silence him on this matter?

With nothing more than the faint whisper of his retreat, I sat alone, enjoying my peaceful thoughts. Though I knew he would be back, and no doubt too soon, I celebrated with a self-satisfied smile at my tiny victory.

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