August 11, 2010

Knockout! Score one for Lucy!

Do you have an Inner Boxer? The one who waits for an opportunity to take a swing? 

I hate boxing or any so-called sport reminding me of my inner Australopithecus afarensis. I’d rather think of my ancestor as an apple-biting, passive-aggressive woman who was willing to take the fall for her man. Her I can relate to. 

Lucy, my Australopithecus afraensis ancestor, rarely comes to mind. As a twenty-first century woman, being an entrée for a big cat’s dinner is not even on my top ten Fear list. I have a cat. He’s little. He has sharp teeth though he’s no threat to anyone other than my furniture. I smile at him. 

"See my teeth, kitty? Know your place! How about another of those ferocious growls? OOOOOOOOO.... I am so scared!" 

Now that humans are on the top of the food chain and we breed cats for our amusement, we’ve become complacent. The days of fighting for survival are behind us. We live in a civil society with rules and restrictions and laws protecting us from one another. Only on the worst of my days do I see predators in the grocery aisles and even then, they are more interested in buying T-bone steaks than roasting me over their barbecue. 

Now though, when human-eating tigers are a rarity and we’re not hyper-vigilant to external threats, we can bring to consciousness a very real and dangerous internal threat: The internal boxer delivering a punch to the real Palooka, the tenth rate good-hearted boxer who is no match for bare knuckled fighting since she sticks by rules and worries more about hurting Lucy than Lucy hurt her. 

I get lulled into thinking I don't need to be on guard for sucker punches---slammed home by my own two fists. Then I wake up dazed, lying on the mattress, staring at the ceiling watching cobwebs grow, wondering how long I’ve been unconscious and why my face hurts so bad. I get up slowly, walk to the mirror and see not one, but two black eyes plus a few greenish bruises to my ego.

“Did I just sock myself in the eye?”  

“Well, yes, you did, CZ! How’s that working for you?” 

“I never saw it coming! That’s not fair!” 

A modern American woman with pretenses of pacifism is no match for the low blow, pitty-pat punching Australopithecus who doesn’t obey protocol and doesn’t warn her opponent she’s preparing to take a swing. Bare-fisted and merciless, Lucy is a brawler. You’d best not ignore her presence or you’ll be down for the count in no time. Trust me. I know a lot about my inner boxer, the one who hits without any gloves on. 

Still, I believe that overtime a Southpaw punch to Lucy’s glass jaw will teach her a lesson about picking on Nice Ladies. Imagine her picking on me, a woman who might kiss the canvas a time or two but always gets back up. No Matter What. 

My boxing match with myself expands the meaning of Infighting. 

This summer has been a knockout, memorial ten-count, down-and-out, referee waving hands in the air “she’s done!” summer. At least my internal audience has been entertained. A few of my more mercenary selves placed bets on Lucy. I’m putting my money on the Nice Lady. The one who took a fall, got back up and kept going. Over. And Over. And Over. 

I was feeling pretty good about myself and what I’ve been able to accomplish, even when the chips were down and I could have easily given up. My nephew, the kid with autistic problems, is showing signs of reaching out towards me as his caregiver. We got him through high school---no small feat considering the help he needed. That was Score One for me, the nice lady helping with homework and talking to teachers. 

My home and garden were finally looking like someone lived here who caredScore Two for me, the woman who weeds and fertilizes and sews her own draperies. 

My sister was pulling herself out of another bipolar mood swing. Score Three for me for not yanking her hair out by the roots but listening compassionately and then stepping in when she stepped out. 

The WoN message board was going well with new people and long timers talking and helping each other cope with a narcissistic relationships and my blog was being updated consistently. Score Four and a half, maybe. 

Score Five when my son called, the guy who might be a tad Aspergers himself, and tells me how much he loves me ‘cuz he doesn’t believe he would be a game programmer if his mother had not believed in him when he didn’t. 

Life was going well and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then Lucy sneaked into the ring. 

“Your antiques are covered in dust! They lasted three hundred years and now YOU are killing them!” 

“You haven’t written on your blog for a month! How irresponsible can you possibly be?” 

“Your website is taking too long. Why can't you get it together? Are you stupid?” 

“You’re fat.” 

That last hit-below-the-belt hurt, which really wasn't an easy target to miss, shall all of my selves agree on that point? 

“We do! We do!” 

Anytime I’m feeling efficacious, Lucy delivers a punch. She sees her chance to diminish my accomplishments by pointing out what I have not done well, or maybe I haven’t done period. 

I know some of you reading this essay will understand if you grew up with adult expectations placed on your little tiny shoulders. If you tried to please people by doing things that were age-inappropriate and yet, you were innately skilled, interested, or talented in those areas to some degree, you may have achieved some measure of success. Still, it wasn’t good enough because as swell as a kid might be, she can’t do an adult’s job simply because she isn’t one. 

This high level of expectation has haunted me, triggering fears of incompetence because of course, I was. So anytime I feel good about ‘me’, Lucy steps in the ring for another round of “Hit yourself in the face. You suck.” 

I could write out the internal dialog but most of you know it by heart. It starts with the thought that you are doing swell. You feel good about YOU. You believe you are making progress. You admit you are doing a t-e-r-r-i-f-i-c job considering the load you’re willing to bear. You notice positive improvement in your environment and your relationships and you notice the impact you’re having is rewarding, meaningful and satisfying. You start feeling safe because as far as you can see, you are. 

If you aren’t paying attention to your internal dialog, you won’t notice when Lucy is preparing to swing until she’s swung. I often fail to notice self-deprecating thoughts until two black eyes are doing stare time. I don’t mean stair time as in exercising or anything productive that would counter Lucy’s complaint about the size of my arse. I'm describing Stare Time as: a non-blinking session with the bedroom ceiling. 

The trick, I am thinking today, is to know the boxing ring exists. To acknowledge Lucy’s presence and insist that formidable woman lace up her padded gloves. There are rules, even for internal boxing matches and one rule she must abide by is: touching gloves with me, like good sports do, before taking the first swing. 

I’m not kicking Lucy’s skinny arse to the curb though because she has squatter's rights on the territory, having moved in when I was six. I am telling her however, that she must abide by the rules and absolutely, no more sneaky, low-life, underhanded, undercutting, poor sport, sucker punches allowed. 

I believe we'll become duly respectful friends if Lucy can 'take a punch' as well as she can give one. 

Me, myself, and eye,



  1. Ah CZ -- I hear ya sistah!

    And my lucy is my 'beast' who likes to creep in through the dark of night and whispers incantations of 'haha you fake you' while I'm creating wonder all around me!

    Tell your Lucy from my beast, it's so much better to make love not war.

    My beast and me -- we're becoming bestest of buddies.

    if only he'd let me stay in the driver's seat all the time -- even when he thinks I might get into an accident!


    Love you and your Lucy.


    PS -- the word verification as I posted this was.... monstra! Is that sort of like 'monster'? Or am I just being paranoid?

  2. I have a Lucy too but she is a witch and mean. I haven't named her but Lucy would be far too sweet. I love your metaphor of boxing. And how great that Lucy has rules too. I'm going to tell my mean witch she has a few rules herself.

  3. I didn't realize my settings required word verification, so I changed the settings.

    Now my email is filling up with ads for all kinds of things I don't need or want or even wanna know about.

    What's a woman to do?

    It's hilarious that the word you had to type was 'monstra', Louise!! What a coincidence!

    To both Louise and Dogkisses,

    My Inner Lucy was unduly blamed the other day for making me feel lousy. Only two days later, I came down with the flu.

    Now I must apologize for blaming Lucy for my aches and pains and rotten headache. ha!!


  4. Don't know if you'll see this reply as this is such an old post, but it's worth a try.

    This reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw a couple of days ago: "My Inner Child Is a Mean Little Fucker!" I laughed so hard I nearly ran off the road. Anyway, thanks so much for this post. I'm gonna set some new ground rules of my own. I don't let my grandchildren disrespect me and it's about time I quit letting my inner mean little fucker badmouth me without a challenge, too.

    1. Dear anon with an inner MLF child,

      LOL! I receive email notices on older posts and was able to find your comment. Sometimes they get lost in my email account that's almost as messy as my office.

      I've never seen that bumper sticker though and of all the names people have given their Inner Child, I've never ever heard that one! One woman used to say her Inner Child had a switchblade and the first time she said it, I laughed til I cried.

      And: Do Not Let those Grandchildren Disrespect You. Learning respect for our elders is good for you but it's also good for them!



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