Introducing Mrs Carp, the voice inside my head

January 27, 2010

For the lovely Sleep is for the Weak’s writing workshop:

The voices started as soon as I left home for university. ‘God, why did you say that? He/she/they will think you are a total idiot now,’ ‘oh, look, your marks are slipping. Well, what do you expect, you were making a fool of yourself all night at that party, no time to revise.’ ‘Why are you applying for that job, no-one in their right mind would give it to you,’ ‘Christ, you look fat in that! Why the hell haven’t you got ANY self-discipline?’

All through my life, like an alternative soundtrack to whatever music I’ve tried to enjoy at the time, the voice I call Mrs Carp has been whispering her poison in my ear. ‘Why are you bothering to write this? You know it’s rubbish,’ she’s cooing now. ‘You’re revealing too much of yourself. You’ll have nowhere to hide. You’ll just be embarrassed that you’ve told people about me. They’ll think you’re nuts.’

mrs carp

You may well all think I’m nuts, and quite possibly I am. But I suspect a lot of women have their own Mrs Carp, saying evil things in a quiet voice, undermining and corroding their way through the day. When I’m feeling low, she can really bring me to my knees. On a good day, I shrug her off, put my fingers in my ears, and sing, ‘la la la la la.’

Why do we do this to ourselves? For, although Mrs Carp has her own sibilant voice, very different from my own, I am still aware that she is just a manifestation of all my own worst fears about myself. Do I think that, if she gives voice to my fears, I can then shout her down and rubbish all her cruel work? Or is that I, and most of us, secretly do fear that we are crap?

I can’t tell you all the answers – all I can say is that I anxiously monitor my own teenage daughter, to see if she ever has that inward look, which means she is listening to a voice of her own. I hope not, and I try my best to fend off the whisperers by chasing all her doubts away.

And,  Mrs Carp, if you’re reading this (and I know you are, I can feel your hot breath on my cheek) can I just say two words to you?


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  • Heather January 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Oh yes, I have one of those too. No idea why we do it though, why we let ourselves be talked down and crushed by our own inner fears. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Just knowing that, however, doesn’t seem to stop them. The worst thing is I have given in to her just to shut her up, because it’s easier. If I cave I wont have to listen to all that doubt anymore. Why is the voice of self confidence never so loud?

  • Dulwich Divorcee January 27, 2010 at 10:43 am

    That’s a good point, Heather, I should try to develop a rival voice, maybe Mrs Jolly, shouting positive things ….on second thoughts, with the two of them I really might go nuts!

  • Brighton Mum-Teenage Angst January 27, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Oh, I just assumed everyone had their own ‘Mrs Carp’. You mean they don’t??? I’ts only some of us??….bugger

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:19 am

      I think it is only some of us, BM – total bummer, isn’t it?

  • Family Affairs January 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    How very polite you were – I’d have sworn at Mrs Carp using all the words I know and maybe some of my children’s too Lx

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:20 am

      No point swearing at Mrs C though – she knows worse words than me x

  • Littlemummy January 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I have the voice, I just hadn’t given her a name. I thought it was just me!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:21 am

      You are not alone, Littlemummy – though I think some people escape. Or maybe they’re just hard of hearing?

  • Rosie Scribble January 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I used to have a Mrs Carp until I realised the internal critical voice in my head was actually my mother. Now that voice only resurfaces at time of extreme stress. Life is much easier because the only voice I hear inside my head is my own.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:21 am

      Hmmmm, I think you have reached a higher evolutionary plateau than me, Rosie. Still trying to get there ….

  • rosiero January 28, 2010 at 7:06 am

    That voice drives me mad sometimes. Can’t put a foot right.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:22 am

      Let’s both try jamming our fingers in our ears and singing really loudly, Rosiero. That ought to show them!

  • Part Mummy Part Me January 28, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Yeah, it’s really hard to praise ourselves and so easy to criticise. I think we internalise our parents’, teachers’ etc voices. It’s all for a good cause – to protect us from effing up and to push ourselves to do better. But as we know with our children, it’s better to be firm and gentle with oirselves, to foucs on the good and ignore the bad. Unless it’s very very bad. Then a stern talking to is just the thing!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:23 am

      I think Mrs C thinks everything is very, very bad though! Pesky creature that she is …

  • Part Mummy Part Me January 28, 2010 at 10:52 am

    excuse my rubbish typing – I can spell ourselves and focus!!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:23 am

      I’m sore you cain!

  • suburbia January 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Love her name!

    Yep, she visits me too, always looks on the dark side, I wish she’d bloody well go and bother someone else!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 29, 2010 at 3:24 am

      She’s a menace, that Mrs C. I’m going to take her travel pass away, that way at least she can’t come and bother you!

  • Josie @Sleep is for the Weak January 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I think everyone has that little voice. It’s just that some people are better at humming very loudly and not listening.

    Mine has a loud speaker. And I’m rubbish at humming.

    Stupid Mrs Carp…