When I first started studying and attempting to understand my own state of mind, I was so surprised and even a little ashamed to find out what the inner me thinks.
My inner critics, as I have long suspected, speaks poorly not just of myself, but to others as well.
I have a complicated relationship with my mother, or rather, the inner critic that takes on my mother’s voice, disguises as memories of what my mother was like.
This faux mother voice that I have talks exactly and precisely like how I (hazily and hormonally, during teenage years) perceived my mother had.
Many times, without a great reason, I get incredibly defensive and angry whenever I talk to my real mother, even though she was, and still is my best friend. More often than not, as I reflected after these conflicts, they weren’t very justified.
About 4 years ago, I moved the furthest I have ever been away from home. So every time I go back, I get excited and had so much love before I go, but whenever I was home, we ended up fighting and hurting each other.
And at times it felt as though I had so much anger towards her.
I used to cry every time on the night before she would fly home/I would go back to Denmark, mourning the time we lost fighting, being upset at myself for not holding my shit together, agonising over my intense feeling of love and anger at her.
So I make up my mind to be better next time, to be calmer, a nicer version of myself next time.
I never quite fully comprehend what it is that I am so angry with her about.
I often joke about how I think both my mother and I went through teenage years together. To think that she was only two years older than I am now when I went through teenage years, a young adult nonetheless, with just me, my brother and her at home most of the time. To think that we would struggle to learn the way to be, to pretend to have our shit together more than we actually did, at the same time.
Yes of course we fought, ferociously, like two tigress in the same cave, without any choices, tearing at one another. But there was also so much tender love and companionship as well.
But at times I was caught up in episodes of being so angry with her, way into my adulthood, into my 30s.
I never quite comprehend to what extend this is until I came across this video recently, of a speech a father gave to his child. “You don’t always have to be happy, you don’t always have to be silly or funny. But the important thing is, whenever you are feeling in a mood like this, is not to just stay there all the time. You want to accept it, you want to honour it, you want to acknowledge it and let it go, and then it will get better, you are still loved and you are still safe.” he said.
And then it strikes me how I, without much thinking, was comparing this to my mother, more precisely, the inner critic version of my mother. It strikes me how much contempt I have towards her, towards this inner critic. It strikes me how in my little subconscious zone, I have decided my mother never let me honour my bad moods, and how part of me decides that’s why I was miserable going through my teenage years.
But this is not true, my real life mother never just told me to forget how I felt, never discredited what I thought.
I realise this is one of the critics that’s inside of me, being angry at the version of my mother that she had remembered. The helpless, the irritable, the bad tempered, the hurt version of my real mother. It is a memory imprint, a evil clone of when my mother was having the most difficult time of her life.
And some part of me was angry at her, more precisely at her at that particular time, after all these years. Even though she is so much more than that, even though she has came such a long way since.
And this evil clone is really a old fragment of my mind, an old version of my inner critics, who used to tell me to hide, to armour up, to defend. And another part of me is trying to defend my right to stay open and vulnerable.
To quote Jack Kornfield’s “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry”:
“As in a dream, all the figures in such a story can be found within us. We find the scaly dragon and the attending princess, the wise grandmother, the irresponsible king and queen, the hidden prince, and the unknown one who cast his enchantment long ago.
What this story reveals from the start is that the journey is not about going into the light. The forces of our human history and entanglement are tenacious and powerful. The path to inner freedom requires passing through them. Receiving grace, opening to illumination, becoming wise has not been easy even for the masters. It is described as a difficult purification: cleansing, letting go, and stripping away. Suzuki Roshi called it a “general house cleaning of the mind.”
It is painful to cast of our own scales, and the dragons guiding the way are fierce. It requires the inspiration of angels; it requires diving into the ocean of tears.”