“Did you realize that you were almost hit by that car?” asked my friend, J, with a twinkle in her eye, suggesting that the near mishap in the parking lot didn’t come as any surprise. And it shouldn’t. Unaware and slightly scattered, I never once glanced at the car trying to park in the spot I hurried across, focusing more on my tardiness than utilizing any God-given sense.
To the outsider it would appear that fault lies with yours truly. A seemingly lack of intentionality and focus that can certainly cause the common mistake. As bold as it may sound, however, I am confidently transferring blame elsewhere, denying ownership of all calamities big and small, because I know that true accountability lies with the following disorder: Apathetic Alter Egos.
The multiple personalities that have taken residence in my person are downright lazy. If they would fulfill their duties every once in a while, I wouldn’t find myself in near the circumstances that leave the impression that I’m a bumbling idiot. Over the years, various identities materialized as coping mechanisms resulting from the varied antics of our household.
There used to be a time when the voice in my head echoed in solitary form. It was a calm place, with minimum noise, allowing for reasonable concentration and awareness based on individualized interests. I remember the introduction of that first personality, when the distinction was forever changed from singular to plural, beginning a shift that would split repeatedly in the fifteen years to come. It was on my honeymoon in St. Lucia, traveling to a remote spot by caravan to view a volcano. Upon reaching our destination, we parked in a very crowded lot, which seemed to have vehicles driving in random directions that only make sense in foreign countries.
As all the starry-eyed newlyweds exited the van, I became concerned about the congestion and how the haphazard parking might relate to the safety of the spouse that had only been mine for less than thirty-six hours. Focus was on him; unease concerted in his direction. All worry, anxiety, and apprehension intended for his well-being, precipitating an event I liken to the breaking of a pregnant woman’s water. Thus the birth of the first alter ego.
Because the new addition to my personality was in infancy, it was not quite ready to take on responsibility for me while it’s alter took responsibility for my spouse. So I never saw the van that hit me as I stepped directly in front of it. I was too busy telling my husband to watch where he was going, reminding him in a nervous Nelly voice that accidents can happen in the blink of a worry wart’s eye.
Luckily, the driver noticed my distraction- and my running mouth - and slowed enough that the impact didn’t knock me off my feet. The gasps from the unbelieving crowd witnessing the misstep, however, were enough to lay me out flat in humiliation.
Since that time, as roles and tasks increased tenfold in my home, additional personalities surfaced to help manage my growing family’s needs. Each supplementary identity seemed to be advantageous, multi-tasking collaboratively, assisting in duties helpfully all while maintaining household joy. But lately they have become a little too comfortable, a little more relaxed with expectations, demonstrating a lazy approach as it relates to assigned jobs. There’s been a slow mutiny of sorts among the many identities, attempting to further distract and disregard the authority to which they are subject.
For instance, while readying the children for church, the personality I refer to as The Stylist, provides shoes for me to wear as I exit our home. Only when I arrive to Sunday School will I realize they are two different colors.
Another alter ego I refer to as The Accountant has been particularly neglectful lately, forgetting to pay the electric bill for my husband’s medical practice. The power company calls my husband at work to inform him that there will be a suspension in service unless prompt payment is received. My husband then calls me to gently ask if I could pay the bill since his patients appreciate overhead lights.
The personality known as The Chauffeur has really been a disappointment as far as expectations are concerned. Finding car keys in the freezer after searching for forty-five minutes proves that organizational skills will soon need to be addressed. And on an additional occasion, The Chauffeur certainly could have spoken up when we were frantically looking for the keys only to discover them later in one of my clenched hands. Clearly, sub par performance.
There’s also the alter ego known as The Laundress, who spends entirely too much time blogging, talking on the phone and examining overgrown eyebrows in the mirror, to ever catch up with the laundry piles that spill over into the streets. Her best friend and cohort, The Housekeeper, never met a vacuum cleaner she liked or a toilet brush worth keeping. They stare back mutely when asked by my spouse what they were able to accomplish that day.
Finally, there is The Nutritionist, who unmistakably fibbed about her qualifications to feed a family of five. The distorted Food Pyramid she consults includes Cheetos as a dairy product and Cherry Coke as a fruit. She uses sugar like salt and preservatives like vitamins.
With the chaos that currently reigns among the personalities, I could almost despair over the loss of control if not for the chatter recently heard. Among the many voices in my head, I have been able to confirm that there is talk of the addition of a strong, persuasive personality to manage the staff of wayward, alter egos. This personality plans to implement a different standard of performance that fosters an environment of ignorance, pretending with supernatural confidence that the household functions fine –JUST FINE - despite inadequacies that suggest otherwise.
Her name is Denial. And she enjoys Cheetos washed down with Cherry Coke.