There is a voice inside my head. It’s inside everyone’s head, near as I can tell, though admittedly my statistical sample is small.*
This ubiquitous little tribe of head-voices are not the fun kind. They are the kind that only come out when you’re halfway through a project, or nearly done with a run, or trying to ask for a raise. It’s the voice that tells you that you can’t.
I call this voice the Asshole Upstairs. Because that’s what he** is: an unpleasant upstairs neighbour who only makes himself known when he’s ruining something.
Like: You can’t do that, what will people think?
Or: Skipped a workout today? Never mind that sprain, you’re weak.
And the always popular: No one will ever want to read what you just wrote.
Writers hear this little voice a lot. Maybe because we’re used to listening to the shit that happens inside our heads more closely than the average person. Our imaginations are strong. Unfortunately, not every part of your imagination is positive. Some parts of it are downright awful: the paranoia, the anxiety, the inferiority complex. All the parts that go into the voice of the Asshole Upstairs.
Having this guy around is like having a really shitty roommate that you can’t evict. You can try ignoring him and hope the lack of attention starves him to death. However, he never really goes away.
But, like many unpleasant things, it doesn’t mean the little shit can’t be useful.
I always work best if I have an enemy to aim at. If the enemy is inside my own head…well, that just means I’m keeping him nice and close, doesn’t it?
Never underestimate the power of spite. You might hear more noble rallying calls***, but I personally get a great deal of satisfaction out of making a delightfully obscene gesture at those who try to tear me down. Even if they’re a part of me. Especially if they’re a part of me.
It’s probably the vestiges of Angry Punk Teenager Me, living somewhere near the Asshole Upstairs, stomping on his ceiling with her big boots and scrawling graffiti on his door. When he gets started, she turns up some NOFX or Dayglo Abortions and drowns him out.
To everyone out there with their own version of the Asshole Upstairs camped out in their brain: you’re not alone. And neither is he. You just need to find another voice up there to drown the little fucker out while you raise a pair of middle fingers and get on with your day.
Because the best revenge is living well. Followed shortly by telling naysayers to fuck the fuck right off.
*In other words, I just asked a bunch of people I know about it. SCIENCE.
**Yes, I always think of it as a he. Don’t know why. Choose your own gender or let it be a mystery.
***I mean, not here, but somewhere.
16 thoughts on “The Asshole Who Lives Upstairs”
I know that guy too! He says the same things to me. Lately, I’ve been able to put him on mute sometimes. Otherwise, ignore, ignore, ignore.
Fuck, that bastard is EVERYWHERE.
He visited me today as I was shopping for a bathing suit. He referred to me as “fat-ass” at least a hundred times in the dressing room. I would even call myself out on it, arguing “no, you’re not a fat-ass, you’ve had two kids and are still at a healthy weight.” I won a few of the fights but lost a few as well. If you find a good hit man, let me know. This fucker has got-to-go! Great post 🙂
Fuck that guy. I bet you looked awesome.
Hey….I KNOW that guy, and yes, absolutely it IS a guy, no doubt about it! And you’re right – doesn’t every writer? He’s the one who practically screams discouraging words at me all the time, and even if I plug my ears, I can still hear him! I wonder why that is? LOL! Great job!
Have you ever noticed that the asshole upstairs seems to be reproducing all sorts of annoying little shits that run rampant up there? This post is great…..albeit a little close to home (!)….I think it’s time for a mass eviction notice. Also, I love your blog name and byline 🙂
Glad you enjoyed. And if you need help with the eviction, I recommend some good, loud stomping music.
“And neither is he. You just need to find another voice up there to drown the little fucker out while you raise a pair of middle fingers and get on with your day.”
I always tell my students to tell their internal editors to shut up when drafting and point out Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird: “Write shitty drafts”.
Mine is a snide but fabulous drag queen that smokes, using those 50’s style holders.
We have cat fights often. The score is a tie, more or less.
Yours sounds kinda cool.
She’s awful. She reminds me that wearing pajama pants to the store to get milk is wrong and chocolate donuts are wrong and so forth. She’s the lady-like female I will never be.
I’ll trade you. Mine’s a thirteen year old girl talking shit in the locker room.
Get that little snot with a rattail! You don’t want my drag queen. She’s a snooty bitch.
I loved this! There’s not really a Nice Guy Upstairs is there? I never hear good voices in my head after a run, or a charity event, yet I always seem to hear chimes of regret after drinking too much, writing something I shouldn’t, or doing things I’m too old to do. Well done, and very good job personifying the conscience!
That asshole ran my life for way too long.