You are always there, waiting to pounce. From the moment before I’m wrenched from sleep at 5 a.m. by my daughter’s cries, you’re there, insisting I am not good enough. Your reasons are varied. It could be because I am not tough or disciplined enough to sleep train my daughter, or the fact that I went to bed too late, or that I don’t have a clear plan for the day and “probably” will not utilize my new gift of time wisely (with both daughters suddenly in preschool). I am barely stumbling down the hallway with aching toes and heavy body as this 360-degree assault hits me.

And you follow me around all day, watching how you can undo me. And undo me you do. It comes so easily to you; you know me so well. You know how I want to be so good and get so much done. And you chirp how I am just like the person I try not to be. How I run around in futile, never-ending circles. How the nap that has the potential to revive and restore is indulgent. It goes on . . .

You are so incredibly harsh. You want to make me bleed. You don’t sugarcoat anything, and you certainly don’t notice any of my good.

Hey, you know the good parts. Like the part that values my daughter’s trust in me to be there, no matter what. The part that is trying so hard to be on top of things. But the full picture you see not. You don’t celebrate my accomplishments; you just want more. My portfolio may be brimming, but you compare me to more popular writers. You don’t take into account my unique mission and my whole story.

And you know what, I let you have so much power because a little, sweet, vulnerable girl inside of me believes that she needs to be amazing. The aspiration of amazing sounds amazing, doesn’t it? But I see more and more that what’s amazing is loving myself when I am not “amazing.” To be amazingly imperfect, human, vulnerable and endlessly loving to myself anyway. To hold and forgive myself for all my flaws and mistakes and to simultaneously strive for the high road. Who do you think you are, trying to make self-love conditional?

I see you. I hear you. You are what psychologists call the harsh, critical inner voice and what Judaism calls the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, constantly ready to cause a person to do wrong in the eyes of G‑d. You look to knock me down in a way that doesn’t prompt me to be better but instead sets me on a spiral of negativity, preventing me from fulfilling my unique mission and bringing the light that only I can into the world. But I also have a yetzer tov, good inclination, and I recognize truth. You do not represent truth. You are just one voice, and I am in control of the volume button. So, how about I recharge with that nap now?