Sometimes I have some pretty interesting conversations with the voices in my head. No, not audible voices. I’m not that crazy yet. Just thought voices, the kind that everybody has. You know, the little bully in your head going, That was dumb. You shouldn’t have done that. You’re not worth anything. Or the mother always trying to comfort you, saying, “It’s not that big of a deal. At least you tried. It’ll be better next time." Or the ridiculously horny 12 year old girl who won’t shut up about the guy sitting next to you in church when you’re trying to think about Jesus, dammit. Whatever it is for you, we all have those parts of ourselves that don’t quite feel like US. A visitor from the subconscious peeping up to say hello, or maybe a volcano that’s been buried for too long and is ready to burst out and wreak havoc on the life you’ve so painstakingly been building. My therapist taught me about a technique called externalization—you give those voices a name, visualize an appearance for them, and suddenly you see that you can talk back to them, that they don’t have to control your life. I’ve been working on it but it’s been a rough ride. Some of the voices have gotten louder. I’ll be reliving a painful memory, and the bully will come out, shooting his poison darts: No one will ever love you. You’ll never be good enough. You’re broken. It’s as if the emotions roiling around in my heart have decided to package themselves up neatly into words to send to my brain, in simple language so that it can understand. In some ways it’s a relief, hearing those thoughts in actual words, instead of struggling with a vague feeling that something’s not quite right. I know what I’m feeling now, and I know what I’ve been believing. Putting the thoughts into words relieves some of the pain.