By Sue Murphy
I don’t want you to worry about me. I’m as lucid as I ever was. OK, maybe that’s not all that reassuring, but I’m telling you this in case you should see me talking to myself, which I seem to do now with some regularity.
I was ticking off items on my to-do list a few weeks back when I realized that I was saying each task out loud. Later that day, I caught myself making joyous verbal exclamations about the new blossoms on my hydrangeas.
I began to feel a little foolish, what with the neighbors being within earshot, so I pointedly addressed the rest of my comments to my dog, Dave. (He covers for me a lot.)
But then, I began to worry. Thinking out loud, is this a problem?
I give myself a lot of leeway because, peoplewise, I live by myself, so there is no one to legitimately receive my pithy comments and words of wisdom, or lack thereof, and sometimes that is just the point. When the “Clean me” light comes on in my coffeemaker and no matter what I do, the light refuses to go off, I repeat the process saying the cleaning steps aloud, as if my vocal self is giving me some measure of validation. The same thing is true with my giant Lego projects (my not-so-guilty pleasure). If I actually say the next combination of pieces I need to get from the tray, it makes me feel like, yes indeed, I am headed in the right direction.
Perhaps it’s a holdover from my writing process. Every author knows that you should read a piece out loud before sending it forth into the real world. Actually, speaking the words helps you to catch any errors that slipped by in the silent read. Even better is to ask someone else to read it out loud. That way, you can hear where your story stumbles.
I think my organizational monologues are completely harmless, but there are also times when I’m trying to work out a future conversational encounter, like a call to a customer service line where I feel like my service has not been particularly customer-oriented. Or maybe I’m angry about a real life encounter I’ve already had and just need a few minutes to vent.
For some reason, venting inside my head isn’t nearly as effective. The words and emotions just keep slamming into each other and cannot find their way to the cathartic exit. I’m not proud of the fact that I get that angry to begin with, but I know that these auditory lapses usually benefit future human encounters because they bring me to a more conciliatory place. I have to be careful with my verbal venting, though, because Dave gets worried that I am talking to him and nervously brings me his squeaky cow or some other treasured toy as a peace offering. Poor Dave. He did not sign on for this measure of neurosis.
In the future, I will try to take my venting on the road where I can pretend that I am simply singing along with the soundtrack to “Hamilton,” or something equally intense. What I need is a playlist, a string of songs that move from shouting and screaming to calm and collected, “Journey from @*&%$ to Nirvana.” Then, my intensity will depend on where I am when I get to your stoplight, track 2 or track 37 (sometimes it takes a while). Just remember: I will eventually be fine.
How do I know this? Because I said so. Out loud.