I’ve talked out loud to myself since forever. There’s never been a day when I haven’t done it. From witty one-liners to long-winded diatribes, I can fill up a good part of the day flapping my yap back at me.
Rumination: what counts as a shortcoming?
I’m not sure why I feel the need to physically say my thoughts and feelings out loud; is it to verbally work through situations in order to understand them better, by articulating what I am thinking back to myself? Like I’ve called some sort of help line, and I’m on the other end, talking myself through it?
Thanks to modern technology, now I can at least hold my head high while driving down the road, mouth fully engaged in a one-way conversation, and no one looks twice. But the idea still occasionally nags at me: is this something that’s normal? Because that has always been my number one concern: is it normal? If not, how far away am I from it? And if I’m very far away from it, then is it something I can live with?
When it comes to talking to myself, I know it’s not going away: it’s the oldest bad habit that I have. And that’s just it: I’ve gone through my life assuming that it’s a bad habit, a sign of weakness. Everything I did that wasn’t normal turned out to be a sign of weakness. Pretty convenient for my alcoholism. The booze made it so I didn’t know the truth anymore and/or didn’t care.
I couldn’t count the number of times I literally said out loud, “you understand you are killing yourself, right? Your drinking isn’t normal. You’re a full-fledged, rehab-dipped alcoholic. If they gave out diplomas, you’d have one.”
Then I’d walk into the gas station and grab another 24 ounces.
Then there’s the occasional urge to isolate. That’s when a second voice isn’t always so helpful. It tends to agree with my bad feelings, especially ones that become big and ugly and seemingly immovable. It loves when I give up, because for me to give up means it gets a free reign to bitch and moan and blame. And hate. Don’t forget the hate.
Now that I am in the program and working the steps, does talking to myself qualify as something I need to stop doing? It’s odd, sure. All that’s happening is I’m saying what I’m thinking back to myself. And what I’ve been thinking lately is a metric ton better than what I was telling myself just a few years ago.
I’m not exactly giving myself tiny affirmations, but I’ve also stopped killing myself over the little things. I’m even occasionally finding myself actually congratulating myself when my response is goofy acceptance, and not fear-filled rage.
Today: I’m recognizing the difference in the tone I’ve been taking with myself and others. For that, I’m grateful.