There is a brilliant colored blue and yellow parrot that sits on my right shoulder. We have recently become, well, for lack of a better word, friends. I have given him a name, Perry (cute right). Actually, to be honest, I had no idea he was there; but he has been with me since I was a little girl. This vibrant colored bird with its grasping claws and raucous voice mindlessly repeats the words, “you can’t, don’t try, not good enough, pretty enough, or just enough.” This damn parrot has gotten in my way more often than I’d like to admit. Perry “stop being mean,” I want to say. “Don’t say those things to me!” But, the bird just repeats. Perry pokes at me with his beak. I say again, “stop it, do you hear me?” Perry seems to love drama and loves to watch me cry.
So, I can’t help but wonder about my Parrot. Why does he repeat these hurtful words? Is he right? Is he picking up on what others see and think?
Parrots are birds that can to mimic the human speech. Did I somehow, unknowingly teach my bird to say awful words that would damage my soul, leaving me to feel defeated, worthless, useless? I don’t know. I don’t even like birds so why in the world would I even let him stay on my shoulder for so long? And, how could I not even notice? And, why would I teach words to my parrot that I would never dare say to my children? Whose words is he parroting? I guess, in the end, it doesn’t really matter how he got there, who put the words in his mouth or why he bothers me in the first place. Perry is here and from what I understand, Parrots can live a long, long time.
Yes, now that I know Perry is alive and well with me, clawing at my shoulder, I suddenly realize that I am the one who is the teacher. As much and as easy as Perry learned words to shame me, I can now re-teach Perry new words that will bring light and energy to my soul.
So, I begin to say to Perry, “you can, just try, why not?” I ask my Parrot, “did you hear what I have said?” I hope Perry is paying attention. My life depends on him listening and changing words. “You can, just try, why not,” I repeat these words over and over and over to my Parrot, praying he will finally forget the old words and echo the new ones. And, what I realize is, it’s all about reconditioning my bird. I can teach him to praise me and treat me with kindness or I can train him to hurt me and keep me in my cage.
So, lately, I have been giving Perry all the lines to build me up rather than beat me down and like a good parrot, he now repeats them to me. So, after all this time, my hostile little bird is now my soothing supporter. “You go, girl,” Perry’s raucous voice says to me.
Now it’s Perry and me to the end.