I’ve been talking to myself a lot lately, probably because I’ve been quite sad over the last few months, and you can only burden your friends with the same old story so many times before they start ignoring your calls and opting to brunch with a more reliably chipper friend. My tolerance for myself, however, is, as one would imagine, remarkably higher. This habit, which I myself recognize as being slightly bizarre, can be blamed specifically on one thing: Living alone. If I had a roommate, I wouldn’t be crazy enough to show myself as the real lunatic I am. And if I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t be experiencing these things that cause me to talk to myself in the first place. Is this what they call a Catch 22? I don’t know. Probably not. I don’t trust 50% of myself at the present moment.
There are, in this relationship, two versions of the same self. There is the Listening Me, who, I believe, am me at my everyday, rattled, impressionable little core. This is the me that is susceptible to overwhelming doubt, like a rickety ship that has been taken over by a six-story wave and begins to teeter eagerly towards one side. And then there is the Talking Me, who comes from a stronger, more distanced place, like that annoyingly positive friend who, when doling out rather helpful but cliché advice, assumes you have the strength and resolve of a wartime veteran. Oh, how the Talking Me routinely overestimates the Listening Me.
But I listen. I do try to listen.
Talking Me goes on and on and Listening Me hears her out patiently, with no interruption. There is no argument here, because it is crystal clear who wears the pants in the relationship. When a deer stands in the middle of a road, eyes wide with fear and filled with the lights of an oncoming Peterbilt, each party knows who has the upper hand, though it brings comfort to neither. And the deer, knowing resistance is futile, does the only thing it can do, which is to freeze dumbly in place.
Talking Me is the one who knows best. Listening Me – the real me, the me who was crying against the wall of my bathroom last night feeling utterly helpless and exhausted – is the idiot incapable of helping herself. Listening Me needs to be told what to do, because Listening Me is like that hysterical woman on a plane about to crash who needs someone to take her by the hand and lead her calmly to the emergency exit. That’s what the Talking Me does. Talking Me leads the way out of situations that feel dire. And they do feel dire, these silly little things blown out of proportion in their immediately aftermath, the first violent plumes of a nuclear explosion that will dissipate with time, like they always do, radiating outward, quietly, with a more subtle destruction.
Until then, I will keep talking. And listening.