I tried to put him up at a nearby inn, but he insisted on staying.
Days later, he showed no signs of departure.
I dodged him as much as I could, and then last night, out of sheer exhaustion, I turned and faced him.
“Let me have it,” I told him.
Wow, was he good.
He knew every crack. Every weakness. Each Achilles heel. (Can you have more than one of those?)
And then nothing.
This morning the Critic was back. I attempted to hedge her again, attempted to obscure her with positives and good vibrations and dismissal; but she was on a tear.
I turned to face her; this time in front of the mirror; And she let it loose.
A litany of degradation.
Followed by silence, again.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in my Critic. I thought there was something more to her than a spewing of insults. Something of substance. Something worthy of my terror.
I had been running from this Critic my whole life. Trying to stay just ahead of him. Beyond reproach. In an endless game of chase…
If I could do enough, be good enough, be smart enough, be productive enough, I could escape him. I could escape the disappointment of every boss. Every colleague. Every friend. Every sibling. My father. My mother. (And their parents, and their parents’ parents, inside of them.)
But even when I did manage to stay ahead of them, I never truly won, because the running itself wore me out. So much so, that at 50, I’m ready to admit defeat.
“You’re right,” I say to my Critic. “I am all those things. Every one of them.”
And then I listen…
And there is nothing.
Nothing at all behind the insults.
And that’s a fine place to be.