Tag Archives: past

Grumpy grumpy grumpy ghosts, or muses in disguise?

As the start date for my Humber course creeps closer, I can feel my old ghosts moving in, settling down, taking up their knitting, kicking off their shoes. Making themselves comfortable.
Which ghosts?
The ones who say:
“You never finish anything.”
“You’re a jack of all trades, a master of none.”
“There’s nothing worse than a dilettante.”
“Why do you want to push yourself? You’re sick. Take it easy.”

Argh, I say, waving my arms about, disturbing their spectres until they get annoyed in turn, hide my pens, make my computer go cranky, get the cat to leave hair balls in the hallway.
Eventually they wander off for a bit, but they come back, whisper in my ear, “you know, you don’t REALLY have what it takes, right?”

We all have those voices. For some reason they are always louder and more persistent than the voices telling us how wonderful we are. Or maybe that’s just me?

I’m sure I exhaust my friends, who aim to reassure me, but these ghosts have lived with me since grade one, when substitute teacher Mrs. Morabito put tape over my mouth for daring to say I had already read the assigned book, and I was in an advanced reading group. She told me off for thinking I was better than anyone else. Since then, any time I feel I am good at anything, I put tape over my mouth and send myself into the hallway as punishment for getting too full of myself. Or I screw myself up, so I can never feel successful.

For this reason, I remember none of the words of fondness (were there any?) of my first boyfriend, but I remember him telling me not to interrupt his important discussion. I recall my English teacher telling me the story I wrote for my parents was derivative and awful (though they liked it, and that was the important thing). I remember my failures as a manager, forget the good things I did. I forget, unless I deliberately dig them out, the positive words on my various submissions to contests, the publications I racked up, the good things I’ve done, the creative mind I have that comes out to play.

So, I’m stressing out. Part of me feels I should already know all this course is going to teach me, because I’ve taken a lot of courses by this point and know a lot of the how, though I don’t always apply it.

Part of me wants to give up on this challenge, do something else instead, chicken out, back away from the hard work it will involve.

Part of me mutters, but you are no good at editing, you can’t ever finish things off properly, you are so slapdash and careless….you never TRY HARD ENOUGH.

Ah, there’s the big one. I knew she’d speak up soon. The old “you’re lazy” ghost.

Gawd, I hate her. She’s made me work to the point of breakdown, pushed me to exhaustion, forced me to do all sorts of insane things. She makes me DO stuff. Gawd, I love her.

One more time, I call to her, sitting as she is, arms crossed, face knotted in disdain. Push me one more time. You can stay.



One of the favorite men I’ve had the pleasure to know did this screen print for me when we were at university together. He wrote “that is not it at all” on the bottom, whether as a message to me or a title. I was too ashamed to ask what he meant – back then, and probably now, he was a much deeper thinker than I was. I didn’t get it, but back then I was too busy pretending to be sophisticated to be myself.
He, on the other hand, had to dig into himself. As an art student, he was encouraged to – I, in nursing, was learning to dissemble.
I got pretty good at that. It’s taken til now-ish to stop worrying about what others feel about me.
Well, at least until I go on the dating sites, where everyone seems to want a skinny mountain climber who knows and loves tantric sex and likes to watch NASCAR. (Happy shopping, fellahs)
Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to say is that the lack of communication and understanding in relationships erodes them. Eventually you end up facing each other, knowing its not working, and asking each other why, only to end up with the non-answer of “that is not it at all.”
We’re so good at pretense, happy families, thinking we have shared our dreams with our partners, while underneath the sand is shifting, moving us further from each other.
I regret not being secure enough to take this man for the treasure he was. He’s happily married and I love his wife, but he’s one of two men in my past that I sometimes think “what if?”
When he gave me this print, way back in 1980, he told me it would fade over time. It hasn’t.
Maybe the message is still meant to be bright and meaningful, as a reminder about what you can lose if pretense covers what you feel.
It is from Prufrock. Look it up…