It would be nice if the people who live in my head would pay rent from time to time.
The first people who moved into my psyche were my parents. They have separate rooms in the cellar, well entrenched there in apartments that most of the other residents aren’t even aware are there. There’s no button for the cellar in the main elevator, only in the freight elevator in the back that people only use when they move in or move out.
And hardly anyone ever moves out.
They built those apartments in the cellar with walls of shame, covering those walls with reminders of the ways in which I disappointed them. There are games on the table that I was never able to win because they are inherently unwinnable, structured in contradictions. I am too emotional; I am not emotional enough. I am too masculine; I am not masculine enough. I am too smart; how can I be so stupid?
There’s a third apartment down there in the cellar. Its residents are the voices I created for myself, my baser urges. I’m not supposed to let you know they live there. They’ve long told me to pretend they don’t exist, because if you knew they existed, you’d shun me.
Except you have them too. Not necessarily the same ones, but you have dark thoughts that speak to you. And if yours are like mine, they’ve told you not to let anyone else know they live there.
These are cockroach thoughts: Their health depends on being hidden in the shadows, not exposed to light. So they tell us not to tell others, because if I tell you about some of the thoughts I have, you might tell me that you have them too, and somehow we make it through the day without acting on them, and those thoughts will lose some of their teeth.
They live in the cellar with my parents so that they can all get together and have conversations about me. Plan their next strategy. Contemplate.
I’ve long thought the strategy was getting them to move out, but they’re too entrenched. If they left, the entire building would collapse. The current strategy is to render them powerless. To expose them to the light. To show myself that the only power they have over me is the power that I give them.
Let them die down there; tape over the button in the freight elevator so that nobody can ever reach the cellar.