Tears stream down my face and I shake my head. I can't. I won't.
"You know," it says, "there really is no point in playacting at this anymore. Just do it."
A long buried memory plays out behind my blurry and red eyes.
I'm a skinny little girl with lice infested hair and bruises on my arms and legs. I'm trying to do my math homework but I'm confused and I don't have anyone to ask for help. I hear my mother throwing things and I want to vanish before she makes her way to my room.The pencil is in my right hand and before I know what I'm doing, I start to rub the eraser against my my left arm. I rub harder and the heat of the friction hurts but it's nothing compared to some of the other things I have felt. Her voice gets closer to my room but then it turns in another direction. She yells at someone to shut the fucking dog up. I want to disappear. I want to vanish. I rub the eraser harder, my arm is stinging, and somehow that stinging, burning pain of not being able to erase myself is comforting. I know now that it's because I was in control of it. I could make it stop anytime I wanted. But the little girl just knew that the pain felt safe.I know the memory is brought to me as a gift from that damned, slippery voice. He wants me to remember that he was there with me, giving me control of my body even as I was being kicked in the ribs. That voice wants me to remember that he's never left me. Not when I was a little girl trying to literally erase myself. Not when I was a frightened college student trying to make myself vanish into nothingness with anorexia. Not when I gave birth to my son and I feared I'd be unable to break the cycle of violence and abuse, and not now. The voice has always been there, urging me, with words as soft as a favorite blanket, to step off the edge, to drag the blade, to erase myself.
And sometimes that voice makes so goddamn fucking much sense. Sometimes that voice is the only sane thing I can hear and I can see how everything would be better if...
"You're not the mother your son deserves, you know. You're only going to fuck him up if you don't do it now."
"You're not the wife he deserves, you know. You're much too selfish and fat and ugly to deserve him. Let him go. You are keeping him from happiness."
"Of course you realize that you don't matter. Of course you realize that you bring more shit into this world. You do know, don't you, that you have less value and worth than a pair of holey socks? Why do yo do this to yourself and to everyone around you? You could just vanish. If you rub hard enough, you'll get past the burning and stinging and you'll start to disappear. Just do it."
I try to ignore his seductive voice. I look into the eyes of my son. I smell the head of my dog. I contemplate a stiff drink at 11am.
I hide from the voice in the shower, but his words echo off the tile. I try to bury the voice under the simple acts of self care. I brush my teeth. I comb my hair. I try to look and act like I'm worth more than I feel. I try to fake it until I make it.
I stick my fingers in my ears and shout "lalalalalala" at the voice, hoping he'll go away.
I tell the voice he's a stupid piece of shit, that I have value. I have worth. I deserve the love of my family and friends. My mother's hatred of me is not a reflection of my true worth. My actions count. My love counts. I am a force for good, not a shit storm.
But it all feels a lie. I want to vanish. I want to be erased. I want to stop feeling the hurt of self-loathing.
And I'm so fucking scared. I'm afraid that if I listen to the voice, my son will grow up feeling that I didn't love him and then the voice will get him. But if I don't, what chance does he have? Eventually the voice will feed on him, too.
"Yes. If you don't come with me, you bet your sweet bippy I'll feed on your boy. But if you take my hand, I'll leave him alone. Trust me. Trust. Trust. Come."
The soft, soothing, slippery, sleepy voice wants me. He's always wanted me and he'll never leave me alone. Sometimes I feel too tired to keep fighting him.
And because I know that's exactly what he wants, I keep fighting. I keep writing, even when I don't think I can. Writing muffles his voice, writing shuts him up. Writing is his weakness and so it's the most important thing I can do for myself and my family. If I work hard enough, if I write well enough, maybe I'll kill the voice.
Then I'll finally be free.