Cruella and Me

//Cruella and Me

Cruella and Me

Who is your roomie? And no. I don’t mean a person you happen to live with, someone like, outside of your actual body. I mean that awful b*tch who has lived rent-free inside your head since the day you were born.

My eight-year-old granddaughter calls hers “Beast”. One night a while back when she was having trouble sleeping she confessed to her mom: “There’s a voice inside my head and it’s saying bad things.” Then she hesitated, feeling guilty. “I think it’s saying the ‘h’ word.” Hate. The ‘h’ word is hate. How precious is that?

Her mom, my daughter, Jetanne – who’s very spiritual – laughed and explained to her how there is the you in there, which you could call your soul, and then there’s this other voice that pops up, which you could call your ego. Because it’s needy and over-protective, it tends to say unhelpful, negative things. She suggested giving it a name, telling it to take a hike. “Go away Beast!” they said.

Invaluable information to have as a child, yes? If I’d known this way back when, maybe I could have evicted my beast by now? Or had it partially tamed at least?

Cruella. My roomie’s Cruella. Because she’s cruel. Evil. And like my granddaughter’s Beast, she’s exceptionally chirpy at bedtime. The other night, when I couldn’t sleep:

Cruella: You can’t get to sleep because you’re hungry. Those salty, crunchy, wavy kettle chips are down there.

Me: I am not hungry.

Cruella: But you love those chips.

Me: I do love those chips. So salty, crunchy, satisfying.

Cruella: You had a long walk today. Go for it! You’ve earned them.

Me: No. They’re inflammatory. Fattening.

Cruella: YOLO!

Me: Shut up, Cruella!

Cruella (because she knows how hard I’m working on enlightenment): See. Look at you! Telling me to “shut up”. You expect to achieve enlightenment talking like that? You actually think that you, of all people, will be able to fully embrace this “pure consciousness inside a human form” thing from that book, The Untethered Soul? You’ll always be afraid of death and that you will have been nothing. Zwhipp! (a sound Cruella must have channeled from my mom) Gone!

Me: Let’s not talk about death right now. I’m trying to sleep.

Cruella: Sleep?! While death exists! It’s always going to be out there, you know, waiting for you.

Me (grasping for whatever morsel of enlightenment I can): Waiting for me? No. It’s waiting for you, Cruella. My soul? Will survive! And besides, I’m perfectly fine right now. I’ve got these soft cotton sheets. A warm home. Everything is ok.

Cruella: Everything is certainly NOT ok! Have you seen the news lately?! You think someone is going to just snap their fingers, end this pandemic? And what about climate change? Is anyone even doing anything about it? And racial injustice! What about that article you read on that Uyghur woman in China, who has a memoir coming out? How I Survived a Chinese “Reeducation” Camp. How she was tortured, kept in horrifying conditions, lights on 24/7, made to confess to things that weren’t true?

Me (groaning softly, so as not to wake my husband B): Let’s face it, Cruella. There will always be evil in the world. I mean, look at you. Lol.

Cruella: Not funny.

We sleep, briefly, and the moment we wake up, she’s right back at it.

Cruella: Ok. So the author of this soul book, Singer, says, “No matter what it is, let it go. The bigger it is, the higher the reward of letting go and the worse the fall if you don’t.” What if something happens to one of your loved ones? You telling me you just gonna “let it go”? I mean, c’mon sista.

Oh man. She’s got a point there. As we embark on Year Friggin Three of this damn pandemic, IT’s no longer, for me and my loved ones, a distant threat, a thing out there. Both of my kids in BC had IT over the Xmas season and one of them is still suffering from some post-Covid symptoms: brain fog, trouble sleeping. And just because there’s Covid? Doesn’t mean other health issues have gone away. Jetanne called recently because she thought her nine-year-old daughter had appendicitis. Turned out to be a kidney infection, she’s on some powerful antibiotics and is doing great (“let it go”!). Then? Jetanne came down with a fever, body aches and, after a negative rapid Covid test? Got one that said, Bingo! Positive.

A positive in this case is truly a negative. The family is isolating and B and I are laying low too, as we were exposed. It’s weird, huh? Knowing you were exposed to IT? Your roomie is thrilled at the chance to crank it up. “Oh, what about that tightness in your chest? What about that feeling in your stomach? Oh, you’re so hot. Is that a fever setting in?”

I say, “No, Cruella. Just a hot flash.”

This is all a good reminder that life is constant change and sometimes there are challenging seasons. That’s why I picked up the soul book, to calm myself, get a different perspective, continue to work toward spiritual growth.

Sometimes Cruella’s voice does sound like Mom’s. This phrase has been on repeat: “Is there ever any good news?” But! Although Mom had a super-loud rambunctious extreme roomie prone to hyperbole? When Dad was struggling with alcoholism, the “Serenity Prayer” often helped her drown out the roar of the beast:

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Take that, Cruella!





  1. Leslie+Blumas January 25, 2022 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Very nice read Rita. Thank you
    Hope you don’t come down with IT

  2. Shirley January 25, 2022 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    That same ‘being’ has been in my life too long! Never knew its name was cruella! Now it has a name!
    Thanks Rita.

    • Rita Hartley January 25, 2022 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      I find you give it a face and a name and it’s a little easier to try to tame 🤣

  3. Hilary February 1, 2022 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I’ve never given mine a name… maybe I should!.. I seldom realize that it’s ‘another being’ in the dark of the night. … this is helpful! Separate me from it! :)) Great idea! .. I was just calling it ‘hormones’ ;))

    Hope IT stayed away.. and confirms that you’re healthy and have a strong immune system!!
    or if IT does happen, you’ll have immunity once it’s passed! 🙂
    I think the school aged families are at higher risk since there’s that huge germ pool happening… My sister’s family are all getting over the IT swamp right now, too… and we plan to visit this weekend for mum’s 82’nd Birthday.. Ugh. the risks!
    big hugs!

    • Rita Hartley February 1, 2022 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      IT did stay away! I feel very blessed about this!

      Yes, it’s a great idea to separate the monster from oneself. Gives space for clarity and peace I find. Helps ease the anxiety levels.

      Happy Birthday to your mum!! Have fun, stay safe 🙏

  4. Hilary February 1, 2022 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    PS Did you do this great painting??!!

    • Rita Hartley February 1, 2022 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Thank you. I did! See what a great teacher you are, that I can go off on my own now, paint things! As you can see though, I tend toward the specific as opposed to the abstract 😜

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