Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2007

Internal dialogue leaking into daily life

April 29, 2007


Boomer girl

It's official. I've become one of those flaky women who roam the earth talking to themselves.

This comes as no huge surprise to me. I've been carrying on audible, albeit private, conversations with yours truly for years.

As a girl, I would converse with myself all the time, rehearsing for various and sundry scenarios that might occur without warning in my young life:

"I'd like to thank the Academy, my mom and dad, my dog, Candy, and, of course, Shirley Temple and all the other nominees :"

Later, I used the same tack to prepare for important dialogues like job interviews, sometimes talking animatedly to myself in the car while driving to the appointment:

"What will I bring to the position? Well, a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, for starters. Cutting cheese for Hickory Farms has always been a lifelong dream. And it's no secret how I feel about summer sausage."

These days, however, my monologues have gone public. They don't have the same purpose. And I'm usually oblivious to whoever hears them.

Just this week, while in a crowded grocery store, I realized to my dismay that I was deep in conversation with myself, in a voice loud enough to turn heads:

"Where on earth did they put the crab boil? It's always been right here with the cocktail sauce next to the fish counter. At least, it is in the other store. Wait a minute. Which store is this? And what happened to my list?"

This episode was almost as disconcerting to me as it was to the 5-year-old boy gawking at me from his mother's cart with his mouth hanging open.

I've always equated talking to oneself as a form of mental illness, like those poor souls who stroll through the park arguing with the tulips or warning of the apocalypse. I was relieved to discover that a host of psychological experts (at least, the ones I could find on Google) assert that many of us talk to ourselves regularly. In fact, it's a healthy way of processing our thoughts and solving problems.

They hasten to add, however, that most (read "normal") people practice self-talking in silence.

I don't know why, but keeping thoughts to myself apparently doesn't do it for me anymore.

The other day, I was walking alone to a downtown eatery when I heard myself declare, ":which is exactly why we shouldn't go. It'll be too crowded and hot!"

Huh?! What was THAT?

One minute, I'm mulling over my weekend plans, and the next minute I'm shouting it to the world? Expressing frustration at the seafood counter is one thing - God knows I'm not the only one who freaks out over crab boil - but this is a whole new brand of crazy!

I started to panic.

"OK, I'm REALLY losing it, this time!" I uttered to no one in particular. "People don't blurt out their thoughts right here on the sidewalk. I know I've been a few cards short of a deck lately, but this is ridiculous. And - look - I can't stop! I'm cruising down the busiest street in town talking up a storm. I've got to sign up for some kind of retreat. Someplace where no one can hear me but woodland creatures:"

Still rambling, I wandered on until it hit me like a bolt from the blue.

I am a casualty of information overload or, simply put, too much life. My 51-year-old brain - crowded with thoughts, worries, new data, old trivia and countless memorandums - can no longer contain my inner monologue. It's coming out of the closet, ready or not.

But what could I do to maintain some outward semblance of sanity? I have a reputation to consider, after all.

Just then, a man in a business suit walked by, gesturing and talking excitedly even though he was clearly unaccompanied. As he passed, I noticed one of those hands-free Bluetooth devices in his ear. He was talking on the phone!

This gave me an idea.

I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and turned it off. Holding it to my ear, I walked on, just in case my inner voice decided to break free again. But at least I'm not talking to the tulips. Yet.

- Cathy Hamilton is editor of and a 51-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.


Mark Van Patten 10 years, 7 months ago

The only time you have to worry is when you are carrying on a conversation with yourself and you look up and say "huh? I didn't hear you."

OfficeGirl 10 years, 7 months ago

  1. You always know what you are talking about; no misunderstandings.
  2. You win every argument.

What could be better?

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