Advice From the Voices in My Head – Part 1

“This is bullshit. Why didn’t I just leave well enough alone and stay married?” Still in bed, I pull the pillow over my head to shut out the light and also to muffle the sounds of my crying. My tenants must think I am the most depressed person ever.

“You were miserable in that marriage – go back and read your old journals. You dreamed of an ‘apartment in the sky’ where you could think and write in peace but you couldn’t figure out how to get it, remember?” This came almost instantly into my mind.

Who Are You?

I stopped crying. Is this my own inner voice? More and more lately, I’ve been paying attention to this voice. I am just not sure where it comes from. When the voice points out things that I am not consciously aware of, it seems like it is some other voice. I am also not sure if this voice comes from one “person” or more.

The voice continued, “You didn’t want your husband to die – that would be terrible because you really did love him – but you could never imagine an end to how things were. You thought you’d made your bed and you’d just have to keep lying in it.”

Tell Me No Lies

I think about this and I recognize the truth of what they are saying. All of it. I remember the guilt I felt for even thinking like this – why wasn’t I more grateful for all I had? The unhappiness was almost overwhelming. I consoled myself by thinking of the freedom I’d have when I died. Maybe when I was reincarnated, if there was such a thing, I’d try for a different life. I knew that my unhappiness stemmed from the choices I had made, one after another, piling up over the years. I felt it was too late to change and I could see no way out. One thing was for sure: I had no quiet or inner peace in my marriage.

The voice arose again, “You were stuck at the end of a path in a maze and couldn’t see the way out. We could see it and we got you out.”

“We?” I wonder about this but the voice goes on, rapidly.

“Many ways, many pathways, through the maze. You don’t like the means but it had to be done to force you to take a new path. All people get stuck and that’s normal. We constantly nudge you towards things to help get you to take a different way. Many times we are ignored. We try again. Sometimes the nudge is toward a difficult choice for you but no matter…must be done.”

What Should I Do?

“Wait a minute!” I protest, “How do you know whether I should be going one way or another?”

“You decide what you want and we get you there. We don’t care what you do or do not do. It’s you who wanted to go a different way and we facilitated that for you.”

OK, this may be true but why then do I keep harkening back to the comfort and stability of my marriage?

“You forget how bad it was for you. You remember only selectively.”

Here I went on a reverie of what was and what is now. The reason for this morning’s sadness is a selfish one: I have many things that need to be done that my ex used to do for me. I am missing having his help and also the loss of the partner that helped me last year. Whenever I go through a breakup in my current life, I go right back to the loss of my marriage, now almost eight years ago. It’s as if a scab gets pulled off and I bleed all over again. I will say this: I bleed less and heal faster each time. Hoo-ha.

The Road Not Taken

I said to the voice in my head, “What if I choose the wrong path and I mess up or something?”

“Impossible,” the voice said immediately, “There is no such thing as a mistake. You cannot make a mistake. Everything happens for a reason. Faith is not seeing the reason but believing it is there all the same.”

I am uncomfortable with this. Blind faith? Now it’s true that some pretty weird shit has happened in my life that defies any plausible explanation. I have written about talking to the corduroy-wearing Jesus here: The Stories I Tell: The Truth is “Out There” and about the manifestation of my house, Buying a Fixer-Upper: Back to 1975, Baby!, but there is also the weird pen thing.

2001: A Pen Odyssey

When I was 37, I decided I needed to go back to school. My husband and I had started a small company and were working together day and night for very little money. I felt that we needed a back-up plan and I wanted to use my brain a bit more. I looked at the offerings at our local university and took the shortest course that would allow me to get a job making the most money when it was done. (It shocks me when I see someone take a two year diploma program without realizing they will make minimum wage when they finish.)

On my first day, I set out on a lovely, sunny morning to walk down the hill to school. It was important that I was on time so I left the house early with my backpack and all my new books. About a third of the way, I stopped short as I suddenly realized, “I forgot to bring a pen!” My emotional state was heightened because I was nervous about going back to school and being such an old student, as well as horror at being found to be disorganized on my very first day.

It was too late to turn back to fetch a pen so I resolved to continue. I took a step, looked down…and there was a pen at my feet. A really nice one, too.

After that, I began to find pens everywhere.

I found a beautiful red pen a few days later that said, “Hong Kong. Live it, Love it.” These pens always work, even if they are slightly crushed.

I found them when walking almost daily. Sometimes one would be on a ledge and I’d watch others walk by without seeing it. One time after school, I checked the mailbox and a pen had come in a package as part of a promotion. Once when I volunteered to be a timekeeper during my son’s hockey practise, my co-volunteer insisted on giving me his expensive pen after we were finished, even though I protested. I found so many pens that once I looked skyward and said, “Enough with the pens already!” as a kind of joke. Within days I began to find pencils. But after about five, they reverted back to pens again. The “cosmic consciousness” has a heckuva sense of humour, believe me!

Long after school finished and my marriage ended, pens would come to me. I began taking it as a sign that I was “on track” and that the universe would provide. Finding these pens was comforting during especially difficult times, like the mermaid pen I found after a really awful first date. I would feel some hope, then, that it was meant to be and to just leave it alone. It took a friend of mine to point out something fairly obvious after we found two pens while out on our daily lunch hour walk: I have always wanted to write, hence the pens. That had never occurred to me!

I’ll Have the Margarita, Please

One of the most bizarre pen stories was from an experience I had at a local Mexican restaurant. I ordered a margarita and when I took my first sip, I didn’t get anything. When I pulled out the straw to have a look, I realized that it was actually a pen! They had accidentally put a pen in my drink instead of a straw! My date was outraged and wanted to say something but I shushed him. That was now my pen and I was keeping it!

Is Christopher Hitchens Still an Atheist?

Actually, men I dated never seemed to “get it” at all. Most of them were atheists and were only willing to put up with my odd pen thing as a quirk of some kind. I have this comment about atheists in general: they seem to me to be devoutly religious people in reverse. They defend their idea that there is no God with as great a passion as any born again Christian. Only instead of the bible, their books are written by Christopher Hitchens.

I have a more practical bend to my mind and life. I don’t really read about religion, although I do like Near Death Experience videos or other stories. If I’m meant to see something – a meaningful saying, encouragement, a poem or prayer – it will show up for me in a book I’m reading, the local newspaper obituaries, online somewhere – maybe even on a tortilla!

Be Brave

I remember being at the end of what I thought would be a serious relationship and being absolutely deflated about it. (This was the guy with me at the Mexican restaurant.) I was out walking this guy’s dog one day – it hadn’t been walked in eight years before I showed up – and feeling pretty glum. I was scared to leave this second relationship because it would mean that I had failed again. The world would not have any doubt that I was the screw up in any relationship. Plus, I had foolishly given up my apartment and moved in with him. But I had to face the facts: it was over. I walked with my head down, letting the dog lead the way when I nearly ran into an old RV. There, on the front of that thing in letters at least 10” high, was one word: BRAVE.

I Am a Potato

My belief is unique to me and I really don’t care what other people believe or don’t believe. Whatever works for you, man. The reason I believe in “God” or something greater than all of us is because I’ve seen it working in my own life.

In the past, I’d suddenly get an idea, seemingly out of nowhere. Like the one in ’82 that I needed to be at a rodeo dance, even though I am not a country music fan and we were all too young to get in. I insisted and that’s where I met my future husband. (32 years together, mostly with no regrets!) In another flash in ‘83, I became a vegetarian. In the past few years I have these flashes but now also conversations with the voices in my head. It sounds just like I am talking to myself only the voices are never wrong and are way more insightful than I am.

A couple times I thought maybe this was what schizophrenics believed, too. Now, these voices don’t ever suggest that I harm myself or others – quite the opposite. Still it worried me that I might be going nuts. But then I thought, what’s the downside?

Apartment Manifestation

It was because I paid attention to these voices that I found a great paying job and was able to buy and renovate my first apartment. That apartment taught me that I really could be a homeowner and do my own renovation. It became a source of serenity for me at a time when that’s exactly what I needed. It was the manifestation of the dream of peace I’d had during the last difficult years of my marriage.

Sell! NOW

Then I woke up one day in 2019 realizing I should sell my beautiful apartment and invest in a house with a suite. This idea was almost planted and became an obsession. I felt an almost frantic need to hurry the process. If I hadn’t acted on that idea and sold right then and bought this house, I would not have been able to move even a year later as the price of houses skyrocketed.

Of course, now that I’ve lost that job, I would have been forced to sell my apartment as I couldn’t pay the mortgage on what I make now. I also would not have qualified for a mortgage so would not have been able to buy a house.

Listening to my gut instincts and the voice in my head has meant that I can live in my own house and have my mortgage paid by tenants. How lucky is that?!

Blind Faithlessness

Not many people realize they have these voices to rely on, of that I am certain. It must be doubly difficult to rely on even hunches or gut feelings when you don’t believe in a higher power of any kind. I dated a guy like this once, who lived in a big city.

He didn’t believe in God at all and how he managed to get up every day, as angry as he was, I’ll never know. He was especially bitter about all the money he had to pay his ex-wife, and how long he’d have to be paying it for. Even though he lived in a swank part of town and owned a hip apartment overlooking a beautiful tree-lined street.

This was one of those absolutely ridiculous internet dating relationships where two people seem to have so much in common on the surface but who, in reality, are completely incompatible. Over the course of a few conversations I had told him about my “weird pen thing” and he laughed it off as mere coincidence. He told me what many doubters do which is that pens are everywhere and that it was only because I was looking for them that I saw them. This seems unlikely to me, given the sheer number of pens I’ve found but I didn’t press the issue. I know he thought I was crazy.

Occam’s Razor

One night when I was in town for work, we made arrangements to meet for dinner. We met on a nearby street and began walking around the city, trying to keep our conversation light as we decided where to eat. Somehow the discussion turned to the weird pen thing and, as we walked by a square grate that surrounded a tree, I saw a pen, reached down and picked it up.

“You planted that!” he immediately accused.

Now, I pointed out that we had been walking quickly for nearly 45 minutes, making turns at various corners and that I had not been steering him in any way. He also knew that I did not know that area of the city well at all. Even if I did, there is no way I could have known which way we would be walking.

He insisted that I had rushed out earlier, guessed which way we would go and placed the pen there. I reminded him that I would not have had time after we made our arrangements to go out, walk 45 minutes to plant the pen, and then walk back 45 minutes to our meeting place. Besides, the pen would be sitting out in the open all that time. What are the odds that not a single person on those crowded streets would find and pick it up?

Yet he stubbornly stuck to his theory. I tried to point out that his not believing was far more incredulous but he could not accept that. (non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem)

House of Cards

Perhaps it is hardly surprising that our relationship ended on a very bad note. He finally admitted to me that for several months he’d been seeing a married woman who had two small children. To me this proves that he is far crazier than I have ever been.


It always amazes me to see the convolutions people will twist themselves into in order to keep their own belief systems intact. They would rather deny any evidence if it challenges what they had believed to be true. The pandemic has demonstrated this on a worldwide scale.

Doesn’t it make more sense to trust the voices in your head than the voice of some authority coming from outside? Who knows what their agenda is – and why are they telling you what to do, anyway? How do they know what is best for you?

When I pay attention to the voices I hear coming from inside my head, I learn things about myself or about the way things are that I hadn’t thought of before. I get great ideas or at least interesting ones. Lately, I’ve become more intentional about listening to the voices. It could just be that they seem louder because my world is very quiet right now.

I’m so glad that they’ve reminded me about how much I’ve longed for this. Just this. To be writing to you.

I asked them if they wanted to impart any message to you and they said, “Just this: it’s going to be OK. Don’t fear. All will be well.”

The voices have changed recently and there has been a bizarre new development, which I will write about in Advice From the Voices in My Head – Part II.

Until then, nanu, nanu.


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