Don’t get me wrong: It wasn’t a voice like someone calling you from across the room. It was more like my conscience, turned up a few notches with a mental tone of voice that sounded someplace on a self-critical scale between my mother’s voice (very annoyed about all those daffodils I had pulled up from her garden for my 7 year old tea party) and Susie Schafer's (the girl with the perfect curled blonde pony tails who ruled 5th grade like Tito sat on the former Yugoslavia – and I was not Serb.) It was a voice that, as time went on, could sustain itself with a constant, even pressure, from the moment I woke up until I squeezed my eyes shut hard against it to sleep at night. In a last ditch effort of self-protection, I decided to call it “Agnes,” derivation agony.
“Honestly, what makes you think that is enough food,” she snapped at me. I was ladling my famous sweet potatoes into a bowl for Christmas dinner. Across the room, my father-in-law was extolling the virtues of my Cornish hen in red wine reduction. It was joyously releasing its garlic and rosemary bouquet throughout the room.
“Are you sure those are done?” Agnes growled. “You know, undercooked meat is the leading source of E-coli.”
“Shut up, Agnes,” I growled back at her.
“What?” said my husband, sidling by the stove to get an early nab at the sautéed portabellos. He popped one in his mouth and made a sound that came close to ones that had helped make our son, 10 years earlier. “Mmmm, you know, I am so happy you decided to make this an Italian Christmas dinner.”
“He’s just saying that,” quipped Agnes. “He’s probably thinking he’d rather be out getting sushi tonight. Why don’t you know how to make sushi yet?”
“Thanks, honey,” I sighed. “Can you take those to the table?”
For whatever reason, Agnes gave up on my cooking after that. Apparently, my culinary confidence was, in the end, my last and strongest defense against her. I held onto this with both hands, but after a month I could also hold on to more and more of my body with two hands, too. Fifteen pounds later, I decided to go to the doctor.
Actually, first I went to my Reiki master. Reiki is an ancient practice of laying on of hands. My Reiki master, Luann, is a world-class mover of energy. I’m not sure how it works, but it works well enough that I always schedule an appointment with her for after the holidays, when anyone needs some emotional housecleaning. Reiki works on your feelings and spirit; thought and intellect must be shut off in order to do it right.
“Yup,” she said after our session, “you are pretty black in there.” She went down the hall to have a quickie consult with my doctor, Barbara. They prescribed various supplements and scheduled me back in for an appointment in 3 days. Just receiving such an immediate, helpful, and accepting response from them seemed to make Agnes’ voice a bit less commanding and a lot more whiny.