Have you met the Not Good Enoughs? They are a large family, and some of them live in my brain. I'm guessing they're camped in the back right curve of my skull where it always feels like I've slept on my ponytail. There's Not Good Enough Mother, Not Good Enough Writer, Not Good Enough Wife, Not Good Enough Daughter. I could go on.
Often their cousin Not Smart Enough visits for an undetermined amount of time. He's one of those slacker relatives who sits on the couch for weeks watching TV and not helping with the tidying up.
Ok, I don't really have a real-life relative like that, but I have an idea about how much that visit would make my head throb.
My friend Laura says that my thinking I'm not smart is a lot like a skinny person looking in the mirror and saying, "I'm so fat." I had a friend like that once, and that conversation went stale faster than a McDonald's Happy Meal, so I have to remember to thank Laura for putting up with my insecurities for the last fifteen years.
I could blame it on my dad, who used to sing to me, "Fish Head, Fish Head, dumber than most kids, the dumbest we know. . ." to the tune of "Flipper," but it's long since past time to get over that old hurt. Although, Fish Head Soup is my little way of reclaiming the epithet.
So I have this new friendly neighborhood therapist. Actually, she's not in my neighborhood at all, but that's neither here nor there. She wants me to evict the Not Good Enoughs and their relatives, and insists that if I write argumentative responses to my negative thoughts, in Stewart-Smalleyesque fashion, these thoughts will run away.
I haven't been able to do it. Partly I haven't taken the time, and partly I am unable to come up with a response, which just perpetuates the cycle of ugliness. So now I'm wondering why I'm so reluctant to give up these thoughts. They must be doing something for me. I haven't quite figured out what that is, but I think it might have something to do with giving up, or with not taking risks, or trying at all. If I'm not going to succeed because I'm not good enough, I shouldn't even bother, right? I should just be slothful, sit on the couch, watch TV.
Since I've been thinking about writing this blog I've had Shel Silverstein's "Listen to the Mustn'ts" stuck in my head, but I could only remember the first five lines.
Listen to the MUSN'TS, child,
Listen to the DONT'S
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT'S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES. . .
Just now I cracked open my ancient copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends and found the last lines:
Then listen close to me--
Anything can happen child,
ANYTHING can be.