My inner conversations go topsy-turvy when it comes to appellations. Let’s start with dropping a spoon – great, you idiot; dumbass; clutz; ditz; moron; idiot idiot idiot.
Moving on to losing something – you’re such a forgetful maniac; way to go idiot; now look what you’ve done; you can never do anything right; now you’ll be late you irresponsible child.
Don’t forget the F word – fucking idiot; fucking moron; motherfucking jerk; fucking retard; fucktard; fuckbrain; fuckall; fuckup; fucking bitch; fucking loser; fuck you; fucking twit; fucking mess; fucking walking disaster; and fuck you fuck you fuck you.
When I’m using CBT and mindfulness – fucking idiot, no shut up, stop it; you can stay calm, just breathe; you idiot, no, it’s understandable that you’d do this so it’s ok; fuck fuck fuck; your fault-no-it’s-not-yes-it-is-no-shut-up-dork…
And my all time current favourite – numnarf.
Numnarf. That’s the best I can do right now to be somewhere between a hateful curse and a neutral label. I call my parents’ dog numnarf a lot, when she’s not quite bright enough to figure out where the toy is. Or when she turns around 17 times before laying down.
I have not yet been able to rid myself of the habit of name-calling. The more interesting part, I find, though, is that I refer to myself in the second person. I speak to myself. I never think, “I’m an idiot” – only when I am in the best of moods. Always my brain speaks to me, never with me, never of me, never for me. It’s often a two-way street, in which I tell my brain that it is a fucktard too, “Shut up, brain.”
This odd fact was brought to my attention when reading this New York Times article about Marsha Linehan, two years ago. Dr. Linehan is a survivor of borderline personality disorder, and inventor of the very successful treatment for said disease, dialectical behavioural therapy. Look in the second half of the article, to the single line that made my stomach turn back flips. “I just ran back to my room and said, ‘I love myself’. It was the first time I remember talking to myself in the first person.” I was connected to her across space and time with the realization that I, too, never spoke to myself with the words ‘I’. My inner dialogues consisted of ‘you’, and nothing else.
It left me with many questions: is this symptom of ‘you’-speak a signature of mental illness, or of a certain disease? How can one even evaluate that? And should I stop? What does it do to my sense of self, my emotions, my health?
In the best times now, when I’m feeling excellent, and I make a mistake, the word ‘I’ comes into my head, unbidden. When I notice, I’m shocked. I remember clearly one summer afternoon when I thought, “Oh, I left the fridge door a bit ajar. Better fix that.”
Are numnarf and I the same person? It must be so, although how to reconcile them still seems like a mystery, even after taking the aforementioned DBT. But recognition is the first step.
Do you speak to yourself in the first person?