Do you ever have pretend conversations with people in your head? Like anticipating a conversation you will have with someone at some point in the near future and predicting what their responses will be? Well, I have them sometimes and they’re almost always between my mother and me. She is the perpetual voice in my head, after all.
The problem is that I have always felt like my mother was too critical. She was certainly harder on me than your average helicopter mom. She would always say, “ I’m just being honest. I’m not going to lie to you.” Well the truth can hurt and it stings like hydrogen peroxide on an open wound when it comes from your mother. I’m sure that it’s also a matter of me holding a grudge for all the times she criticized me and forgetting all the praise she gave. I wasn’t keeping score between team criticism and team praise, but I certainly never felt unloved just overly criticized. You know the saying “you’re your own worst enemy,” well that enemy sounds JUST like my mom so it’s become impossible for me to distinguish between me being critical of myself and my mother being critical of me.
So last night I had one of those imaginary conversations with my mother. I’ll be visiting my parents at their house in Florida for a week in December. During that week I’ll still be in the middle (well toward the end really) of my couch to 5k running program. I will have to put on my running clothes, fill my water bottle, cue up my iPod and head out the door. I’ll also have to explain to my parents where I am going and why. So last night the conversation in my head went something like this:
Me: I’m going outside for a run.
Mom: You’re going running?
Me: Well I’m doing this program called couch to 5k where you do intervals of walking and running and over nine weeks you work your way up to running for 3 miles or 30 minutes straight.
Mom: Why do you have to work your way up to that? Shouldn’t someone your age just be able to run 3 miles easily?
Me: No. Are you able to run 3 miles?
Mom: No, but I’m old. [She’s like 49 people! Oh and she’s thinner than me now…that’s a whole other blog post]
Me: Well were you able to run 3 miles when you were my age?
Mom: No, but I smoked when I was your age.
At that point I remembered that I wasn’t actually having this conversation and it was all in my head. I promptly got out of my head and into bed. This afternoon during the walk to my local coffee shop (aka my office) I replayed that conversation. Instead of being defensive I told the voice “It would be much better if you could be supportive about this instead of critical.”