In the Scheme of Things: Those Annoying Ghosts, Goblins, and Witches

3:08 a.m. A tree branch scraping against the roof startled me awake. A half hour later, I was reP1060012 (1024x768) - Copypeating mentally “Be … Still” with each breathe in and out. It was a fall-back-asleep technique I’d adopted years ago when work pressures, elder care worries, and teenage challenges robbed my nights.

But on this night the technique failed me and the Ghost of Yesterday took over. That inner voice, chastising me that I should have finished the proposal yesterday; should have worked out more this month; should have gotten more summer projects done; should have – should have – should have. For over an hour, the reel of should-haves played vividly as yesterday’s ghost narrated where I fell short.

4:23 a.m. I’d been dozing off and on until I glanced at the house alarm panel. The light wasn’t on. Hmm. Why would that be? I’m sure I set it, didn’t I? My eyes wandered to the shadowy corner of the room, behind the overstuffed chair. Strange how the light makes it look like there’s something or someone there. I know logically that’s not the case, but then again, didn’t I just read an article about increased home-invasions? Stop it! Breathe, I tell myself as my reactive heart-pounding begins.

This beast in my head I recognize as the mischievous and sometimes malicious Goblin of Doom that visits on occasion. He seizes the worse news stories of random violence, strange occurrences, and evil-acting people and morphs and twists them, trying to ignite my paranoid thinking. With a few mental-whacks I push that goblin away, my adrenalin returns to normal and sleep comes. My last look at the clock was 5:12 a.m.

5:45 a.m. My husband’s alarm for an early work call wakes us both. But I have another half-hour to sleep, and snuggle under the comforter to embrace that delightful news. But before I nod off, my Negative Witch starts yapping about how annoying the night was, how little sleep I gave her, how sluggish and tired she feels. As if under her spell, I get out of bed grumpy, irritable, and annoyed (and a bit annoying, I’d imagine). The face in the bathroom mirror looks more like her than me; hair tangled, face haggard, and cheerfulness vacated.

In the scheme of things, we all have inner voices haunting our thinking from time to time; belittling aspirations or encouraging us to give up a dream; voices that replay failures, spark doubts, and drain confidence. We all have ghosts of regret, globins of worry, and witches of negatively. I don’t need Halloween for ghosts, goblins, and witches to visit. Salt, St. John’s Wort, or protective spells won’t keep them at bay, nor will candy treats send them scurrying.

But, I do need to elevate my own voice above theirs. If I don’t buy into their view of me or the world; if I reframe their voices with my own reason and reflective common sense; and if I reconnect to my own voice, they fade away. Maybe these inner ghosts, goblins, and witches aren’t so annoying after all. If they can push me to listen closer and hear my voice against their madness, and the world’s, to re-ground myself, then a visit now and is welcomed.