#newyear's resolutions

A New Year’s Resolution Gone Wrong

Paul Kiernan

Personally, I am prone to avoiding the new year’s resolution; I fail enough during the year that I hate starting it off by saddling myself with something I know I will fail at miserably. Why go into a new year with the predestined albatross of failure hanging about your neck like some nightmare Coleridge shadow lurking over your shoulder all year? Why? Doesn’t sound wise.

We are now some weeks into the new year, not the shank of it, the upper thigh of the new year, we are still tickling the skin of this nascent year, but we’re still in it enough to see if some things are going to work—specifically, the new year’s resolution.

Personally, I am prone to avoiding the new year’s resolution; I fail enough during the year that I hate starting it off by saddling myself with something I know I will fail at miserably. Why go into a new year with the predestined albatross of failure hanging about your neck like some nightmare Coleridge shadow lurking over your shoulder all year? Why? Doesn’t sound wise.

However, I have never been at the head of the line when it comes to wise, so I broke my long-term avoidance this year and made a new year’s resolution.

The Resolution

Seeing that I don’t usually do this sort of thing, I went at it in a way that I was sure would lead to success. With that in mind, my resolution did not involve,

  • Weight loss
  • Any form of gym or health club membership
  • Eating healthy
  • Drinking less
  • Ending my life long mockery of nuns
  • Running (unless chased by a pack of dogs or a gang of sentient tacos)
  • Volunteering more
  • Complaining less
  • Overuse of the word synecdoche
  • PI

With this list of everyday vices I know I could never change firmly in hand, I set about making a new year’s resolution that I was sure would be easy, and I would follow through and be a success.

After much thought, time, bourbon, and consternation, the clock ticking toward the fateful moment, I hit upon something I felt strongly I could achieve. Something that would be healthy but not involve shunning nachos or joining a cult. I decided to slow down, relax and get in touch with my inner voice.

I decided to quiet my mind for a small portion of the day, slow down, find stillness, and let my inner voice be heard. I was inspired to do this after some research, and I learned in all that you do, allowing your inner voice to guide you can help you show up as the best version of yourself. It will help you fully discern your wisdom, guidance, and direction, and there's nothing more potent than trusting yourself and confidently following your truth.

Powerful words, right? When I read that, I thought, my best self? Wisdom, guidance, direction? Showing up??? How could this be bad?

How indeed?

The Inner Voice

a boy shouting into a studio mic

Now gurus and religious persons all say the inner voice is the guide to greater fulfillment. And, seriously, who among us is not seeking greater fulfillment?

I know what you’re thinking, Paul; you have a slice of pizza stuck in your beard, and how do I know when I am in dialogue with my inner voice? Good question. Here's what I have learned.

  • Notice when and where you feel your inner wisdom
  • Notice when you have a hunch about something
  • Notice when you have that sense, and your mind tries to override it
  • Notice when you start talking yourself out of something or start talking yourself into something

In these situations, a connection is happening, a dialogue beginning between you and your inner voice.

The first step is the initial connection with your inner voice, inevitably leading to a rich, honest, fulfilling life.

Unless you’re like me and you discover your inner voice is an absolute dick, and you’re terrified of it.

I Hate My Inner Voice

I was so ready to succeed in this endeavor, be better in the new year, learn something about myself, and find fulfillment. Then, I slowed down, I listened, and I got in touch with my inner voice, and, well, that turned out to be a nightmare. I hate my inner voice.

Now, this isn’t a situation like when we hear our recorded voice for the first time, and we ask, do I really sound like that? This has nothing to do with the timbre of the voice; I don’t hate the way my inner voice sounds; I hate the things my inner voice says.

After the first meeting with my inner voice, a quiet Sunday morning, sunlight slipping in the windows, birds chirping, coffee in hand, I felt this was going to be great. I slowed down, listened, and my inner voice came through.

Some things I learned about my inner voice were a bit of shock. First off, my inner voice is from Jersey. Not sure how that happened, but my job was to accept and not question. Secondly, my inner voice seems to really like NASCAR and uses it in metaphors that constantly go over my head. My inner voice is really into nicknames. Harsh, cruel, make the mean girls from school say, “damn, that’s harsh,” kind of nicknames, which he changes constantly. Currently, his favorite nickname for me is “meatball.”

My inner voice has a rather twisted sense of humor that seems to revolve around causing people physical pain and then mocking them for not being able to handle it. For example, a few weeks after meeting inner voice, he said to me, “So, tamarrow, meatball, youse is gonna walk around town, and push as many people into stop signs as often as possible. It’ll be hilarious. And, hey, if they complain, they just can’t take a joke so, screw them.”

I didn’t push people into stop signs, and I got an earful, or rather a superior temporal gyrus and the left inferior frontal gyrus full in our next conversation.

I Now Fear My Inner Voice

Here’s a little tidbit the gurus, shamans, and religious masters fail to tell you, once you’ve connected to your inner voice, it doesn’t ever easily go away.

Yup, once that inner door is open, the damn thing will not shut up. And it evolves.

It seemed okay when Vinny, my name for the inner voice, and I started talking. He was interested in what I had to say; he was helpful with information and supportive of my choices, however, after a month, that changed.

First came the nicknames. I went through “fruity,” “Doughy,” “Baldy,” and “Ya Big Pair of Girl’s Underpants” before we landed on meatball. Then the “humor” started. He suggested I push people into signs, write a robbery note on the back of a random deposit slip in my bank, and order phallic-shaped cookies to send to the Sister’s of Extreme Lamentings and Lower back Pain’s bake sale.

That eventually turned to threats. If I didn’t do what he said, there were certain parts of my brain that would change my life if they happened to be damaged. He never said outright he would stab me in the pia mater or take my medulla oblongata for a little ride. Still, he hinted at damage to my language centers, cognitive reasoning, and ability to say the word spatula in twenty-seven different languages. This sent chills down my spine.

I became terrified of what Vinny would make me do. And, I was tired of being called meatball by my inner voice.

Couples Therapy

Two hands reaching out for each other among stone monolyths.

After only a few weeks, it was apparent that this wasn’t working, that I wasn’t going to achieve fulfillment, and that my chats with Vinny were causing me discomfort, fear, and nose bleeds. Something had to change.

One night I brought home a nice bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, made a huge tray of nachos, and put on the 1983 classic movie, Eddie and the Cruisers, filmed in Asbury Park, NJ, Vinny’s favorite movie of all time.

Twenty minutes into this god-awful flick, after matching each other shot for shot for 40 minutes, my inner voice was feeling no pain; it was at this moment that I struck.

“We should do couples therapy, “ I said and waited. He grunted, took another shot, and burped.

“Couples therapy,” he sneered, “We ain’t no couple unless you’re trying to tell me you’re on of them homotskis. Is that what you’re saying, meatball, you telling me you’re one of them gays?”

I assured him I wasn’t, and we debated the insensitivity of calling someone “one of them gays” for about ten minutes, and then, out of the blue, he asked;

“What do we need couple therapy for? We’re doing okay, ain’t we?”

In that moment, when Vinny was drunk, introspective, and vulnerable, I told him about my fear, my discomfort about being called meatball, and his insane suggestions for humorous moments to make the day go by faster. He listened to me, really listened, and, after I was done, he nodded and agreed.

The following day, we started couples therapy.

Releasing My Inner Voice

Vinny and I went to a therapist, Dr. I. Kant Even, for two weeks. It was good. We were open with each other, spoke our truths, and really listened to what Dr. Even had to say. It felt good, hopeful and we were both glad we went.

In the end, Dr. Even didn’t think we were good for each other, and we both agreed. Sometimes that’s just the way it is. Nobody was to blame; there was no finger-pointing, no he said/he said, just a quiet realization that we weren’t meant to be together.

We parted ways amicably, and I lost touch with Vinny until a few days ago. I was attending a surprise bris when a professional wrestler walked in. He headed straight for me, and before I could ask who he was, he said, “A friend of yours wants to know how you’re doing, meatball.”

It was good to hear from Vinny. He was doing okay. He was inner voicing this pro wrestler, and they were a great match. He seemed good; he’d lost some weight, he told me he had started journaling. We spoke briefly, had a laugh, and then the wrestler had to go; he was going to push some people into stop signs. Some things just don’t change.

For a new year’s resolution, this wasn’t a total bust. I learned some things, opened myself up to new ideas, and I like to think I made a friend.

The whole experience has changed my view on new year’s resolutions; maybe they have a place, a purpose. Perhaps the attempt is good enough; I don’t know. But, next year, I’m going to try again. Do something that I know I can succeed with, maybe something to do with bloating and gas.