Why Do I Do That?

February 10, 2014

Just Write.


It’s 5am and Mozzy whimpers in his kennel; he needs to go out to pee. I look out the window and see nothing but a thick, viscous fog. I rub my eyes, certain that it’s just blurry morning vision, but when I look again, I’m greeted with the same ominous landscape. It’s official: another day of heavy mittens and white-knuckle driving.

I burrow under the covers, feeling the cold snap of winter morning already.

Mozzy whimpers again. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to be responsible for a new puppy. I don’t want one more quivering bundle of need in my life.  I want someone else to handle my burdens because sometimes, like this morning, they seem endless and heavy on my shoulders.

Then I have a conversation with myself.

“Get up, you lazy bitch.”

“You signed up for this dog and you’re going to take care of it…you asked for this and you’re selfish and get up and take care of your damn animal!”

“What kind of jerk doesn’t get out of bed when her dog has to pee?”

“People like you have no business being responsible for anything. All you do is screw it up. You screw people up, your kids up and now you’ve moved on to the dog. Awesome.”

On the third whimper, I haul myself out of bed, full of anger and self-loathing and a bitter taste in my mouth. I unlock the kennel, fumble for a leash and a plastic bag, grab the nearest boots– which happen to be Miss D.’s.– and I swim in them. The girl doesn’t have feet; she has skis.

The nearest coat is my stepson’s so I swim in that, too but I’ve dawdled enough already. It’s got to be in the single digits  outside. Where the Hell are my gloves? Why can’t I ever get it together and organize this stuff the night before? Shit. We’re out of dog treats and I just went to the store yesterday. I know where I’m going today. Stupid girl.

I click on the leash and Mozzy wiggles in anticipatory delight. At least someone is happy to witness the morning. I open the door and shut it quietly behind us.

Mozzy’s nose hits the frigid morning air and he stops in his tracks. He shakes his fluffy white body twice, as if he’s gearing himself up.

It’s 5am and it’s me and Mozz-Man against the world.

The fog is so thick that I lose sight of him as he waddles forward, and for a minute I panic until I remember that he’s on a leash. Jesus, I’m always a nervous wreck. I navigate the world in a constant state of fight-or-flight. My first instinct to everything is to startle, like an overwrought bird. I hate that about myself.

Mozzy stops to let out a hissing yellow stream into a white pile of snow and it hits me. What don’t I hate about myself?

Suddenly, I feel like I can’t breathe, like the dense fog is strangling the air from my lungs, which is stupid but that’s what it feels like, and I close my eyes and gasp deeply. Mozzy’s done his thing and is itching to move along, but I stand still for a few moments, hearing myself huff into the icy morning air.

What don’t I hate about myself?

Breathe in, breathe out.

Mozzy finally gets his way and I move my heavy booted feet in the snow. He’s delighted by the fresh snowfall and his little butt trembles in delight as he leaps into a snowbank. He’s such a quivery little guy, so full of wonder and curiosity and appreciation for little things like a morning bath in fresh powder.

Of course you hate yourself, you stupid girl. Listen to how you talk to yourself.


Why do I do that?

Why do I talk to myself that way?  I wouldn’t talk to anybody that way, but that’s how I talk to myself.


Idiot loser, lazy bitch, selfish jerk.    Stupid girl.

I don’t even realize that I’m doing it, this scathing inner dialogue. More of a diatribe than dialogue.

How many times a day do I say something mean to myself? About myself?

Something needs to change.  I’m pretty sure it’s me.

Mozzy stops again to sniff at a tree. He lifts one puffy little leg and marks his territory. We begin walking again, straight into fog so thick that it’s like somersaulting into the unknown.

We walk and I think about Anne Lamott, who calls her inner voice the radio station KFCK. It’s the station that never stops, and the #1 Billboard hit is your own inadequacy.

My inner voice is on station KFCK too.

I think of Anne Lamott and how much she hates her thighs. She calls them The Aunties. And how, when she went on a cruise and (naturally) had to don a swimsuit, she covered The Aunties in temporary tattoos. She gussied them up with roses and sparkles, so they’d feel better.

Then she went to the buffet table and asked The Aunties what they’d like to eat, and she made sure to listen.

She put suntan lotion on The Aunties with a forgiving, gentle hand.

She knew that she had to be kind to The Aunties, because they were in a stressful situation, being constantly out on parade like that.

I thought… how completely nutso and incredibly wise is Ann Lamott?

She has good things to say. Things to say about the way we treat ourselves.

I have a lot to learn.

If only I’d quiet myself to listen.

If only I could get to the gentle place.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

papa guy February 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm

you and I are just alike. we both have a hard, bitter inner conversation.


Pamela February 10, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I listen to KFCK too. Let’s switch the station.


Shannon February 11, 2014 at 6:36 am

I get this, Kitch.
I have been trying very hard to regulate my inner voice lately, not just for the negative self talk (though there is some of that) but also to tamper the imagined voices and opinions and influences of others that don’t belong in there.


Abby February 11, 2014 at 6:40 am

Talk to yourself like you talk to your girls. Easier said than done, of course, but you’re obviously doing something right. Give yourself credit. You’re doing the best that you can.


Erica February 11, 2014 at 7:50 am

I have the same advice as Abby. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your girls. Baby steps. You’ll make it. xoxoxo


Alison February 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

Sometimes, it’s easier to be hard on ourselves, than it is to be kind.
But it’s worth the trying. xo


S in AK February 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

A lifetime of negative self-talk isn’t easily discarded; after so many years, it’s become as natural as breathing. Try to remember that and give yourself credit for trying. Trying to change is but one of the things that sets you apart from the lazy, selfish, stupid, idiot-loser-bitch-girl. I’m still trying. oxo


Justine February 11, 2014 at 9:27 am

It’s weird that being gentle with ourselves is actually more a learned than natural behavior, but hey, at least that means all hope is not lost. That we can acquire the skills is a promising start. It just takes time and patience, as with most things I suppose. Hugs to you my friend. For what it’s worth, I think the world of you.


C. Troubadour February 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Two things I realized about the inner critic that possesses me:

1) It has a face. For me, it’s a mix of a few key external influences that started planting the seeds of that awful monologue. Sometimes it’s hard to trace who/what gave you those hypnosis tapes to play over and over in your head until you thought it was actually you thinking like that, but sometimes the source is readily identifiable. Advice I was once given was to print out a picture of that source (if you’re lucky enough to have just one) and draw a great big X on it and put it somewhere I could see it. Alternatively, you draw it, if it’s a monster with many heads, and then set it on fire, save the ashes and put them on a shelf where you can keep them symbolically contained.

2) I can’t say the above approach worked for me, but it got me to understand that the negative self-talk can eventually take on a separate space that is not you anymore. By which I mean, you feel you’re responsible for the talk, and you are because you’ve been such a hospitable host for it, but you can also boot it out like a tenant who’s not living by your rules. Write that eviction notice, Kitch. We’re all with you.


Phoo-d February 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I agree that Ann Lamott is on to something. Give that inner a voice a name and reach deep for the power to tell it to shut the fuck up when it starts yelling at you. You have great worth and do so many things right. The amount of love you give to others tops the list!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes February 11, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I do not know Ann Lamott, but she is on to something. And yes, I’m my own worst critic too.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me February 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

We are our own worst critics, aren’t we ? So trite, but so true. No one beats us up as hard as we do ourselves. Self-talk is powerful and changing it is indeed easier said than done. You couldn’t possibly be so horrible – look how wonderfully you love your girls. The challenge is to find the part inside of you who loves you the way you love them. And believe that you deserve it. Because you do.


Elaine A. February 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I wonder why we talk to ourselves like that. it’s so mean. We must stop being mean to our own selves! Although the radio station thing is pretty funny, I have to say. ;)


Sarah February 11, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Me too. Yes, yes, me too.



Liz Aguerre February 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Finally got her book…yesterday!! Weird coincidence. Haven’t gotten to the Aunties yet. But I may never be able to look at my thighs again without thinking about that.

I do that thing, too.
I think we should both try and shut the f*ck up long enough to listen and be gentler.

But P.S. The dog thing? In that kind of weather? I get cold when it hits 68 here. I know. I know. I’ll shut up now.


Jamie February 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Kitchy, I wish we could switch brains for a day. I think you’d tire of hearing “damn, you’re a sexy bitch,” “work it, sister,” “live it up, give it up,” and the other ridiculous drag-queen mantras that blare between my ears 24/7 ;)

Great post, as always. Love that you call him Mozz-man. Makes me laugh every time!


Barbara February 12, 2014 at 5:01 am

Most of us have been through the dog thing…I told my kids: now that Mom is old, don’t even THINK of giving me an animal to keep me company. (Having pets, for some reason, the pundits think keeps us oldies young. Not so.) We had animals galore when the kids were young. I don’t want to be tied down that way anymore.
Re: talking trash to yourself: Stop that! You are not to blame for everything and anything.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri February 12, 2014 at 10:00 am

That inner critic has a way of wrecking our soul. I get it. Hugs, friend.


Biz February 12, 2014 at 10:18 am

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy – and I have no idea why either!

I will tell you – you are beautiful, talented, a great Momma, wife and cook. And I’ll keep telling you that until you believe! :D


erin margolin February 12, 2014 at 11:06 am

yes, this.
i know this.
your line about how we’d never speak to anyone else the way we speak to ourselves, internally? spot on.

and yes, it’s no wonder i’m so fucked up with the way i talk to/treat myself.

it’s a freight train. the brakes are out. it’s running over and over me. it won’t stop. how do i make it stop?


Jennifer February 13, 2014 at 10:06 am

I’ve always been so, SO bad about this until last year my therapist told me to talk to myself. Yes, she gave me permission to have a conversation I’ve put off for years and years. She said, “mean people are hurting, ask that other you why she’s hurting.” It is like a light went off. I did just that and I got a lot of answers back that were enlightening. Occasionally she will peek her head back around the door, but I’m always there to “talk” her down. It helps.


Tiffany February 18, 2014 at 7:37 am

It sounds as though we need to start a club…where we learn how to be nicer to ourselves. I love The Aunties idea…Anne sure is brilliant.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: