Thank GOODNESS for hands-free cell phone use.
I spent a majority of the 90’s and early 2000’s looking like one of those drivers on the road that appeared to be deep in the throes of some kind of abnormal half-conscious frenzy. Why? Because my absolute gold standard of practicing self-care and coping happens to be… talking to myself.
Now, I’m not talking about the light stuff either. You know, when you find yourself dropping an audible sentence or two “Oh shoot, I still need to get to the pharmacy today” or “Where is my exit?” No no no. That kind of chatter is nothing compared to the long drawn-out 27-minute diatribes that I regularly hash into on my steering wheel.
I am telling you, once hands-free calls became law, I promptly thanked the universe for the good fortune. Gone are the days where I am in the middle of an “audible thought” and glance at the car at the light next to me only to see them raise an eyebrow (because I am clearly the lady on some kind of a cerebral day trip in the next lane).
Why though? Why on EARTH do I prioritize talking to myself above all other coping skills? Well friends, that is because I happen to be a professional secret keeper. I hear secrets. I cuddle up with shame. I stare into the deep dark abyss of other people’s personal pain. I witness the dark parts of private lives that most humans don’t want to look at themselves, let alone share with another human. This this where I live. I exist in these murky trenches, day in and day out. It is OK. I know my way around and I have been down here for like a decade.
But, what do you suppose I should do when I am carrying the secrets of hundreds of people? Tell my friends about it? Sit on a stool at the end of a bar and dazzle other patrons with my wild stories of lunacy? Nah, bro. These are the things that are not to be shared. Jeez, I mean they’re not even mine to give.
So one day, after a particularly difficult day, I said to my dashboard, “Who am I supposed to talk to when I am not allowed to talk to anyone?”
My dashboard failed to respond.
After a long pause… I just sort of kept going. I started talking out loud to myself like I was talking to my best friend. I started describing what I saw and the way it made me feel. I started saying the things that constantly interrupted my thoughts and continuously bruised my own sense of self-worth. I did it all audibly and with enthusiasm.
Yo. When I tell you that it immediately felt amazing, the words are an understatement. All of the creepy crawlies that thrived in my mind (because they were super cozy with not being allowed to see the light of day) those things were suddenly put on BLAST. That was the day I learned that I am my absolute #1 ride-or-die friend… And really, who better? I mean, I am the only person seeing and experiencing this messy, reckless world through these lenses. And I certainly know how to talk to myself in a way that I can understand.
Now, years later I learned about the magic of EMDR and the science behind what psychologist’s call “external self-talk” Hey, you can even do the research yourself. Type benefits of talking to yourself into a search engine and just go ahead and marvel at the hundreds of articles from respectable publications. Really, my guys. I’m not the unhinged one here for doing this, pinky swear.
So try it. Next time you find yourself thinking, “There is nobody that would possibly understand this” … stop. Then remember that there IS somebody that would totally understand. That person is YOU. And the next time you get into your car, roll up those windows, and talk all of this courageousness out. Get in there, too. Say the things you always stop yourself from saying. Ask yourself for advice. Problem solved.
But hey, try to be nice to yourself in return, OK? You’re in this together; you and you.
Oh, and if you happen to be sitting at a light and I am in the vehicle next to you…
we are just going to agree that I am probably taking a phone call, OK?