When I walk, I talk with myself. Notice that I used “with” instead of “to” in that first sentence. As I have gotten older, I noticed how little I talked to myself or listened to myself. All the noise in my head and my world was from the outside in. But my ability to enjoy and process the world comes from the inside.
So, I have forced myself to talk and listen when I am alone. It feels strange at first. We are so used to having conversations with others, to waiting for them to stop talking so we can start, to sharing others’ sounds and experiences.
What a gift it’s been to spend time in the quiet hallway of my own thoughts and feelings and needs. I find out that I’m sad or scared. I acknowledge anger.
I listen to the little girl who grew up uncertain in an unstable family. I tell her what no one knew to tell her back then or in all the years since. You are safe. I am safe. I am strong. I say it once a day or 100 times a day. It’s the wallpaper of my mind.
And recently I have come to believe it. Bad things will still happen. These words don’t magically change the world around me. They change me. They comfort me. They remind me that I have choices. That I have the power of me. That I can protect that little girl in me who lived too many years with her hand on the receiver, poised to dial 911.
I’m sharing this with you for two reasons, even though it’s personal.
The first and most powerful is that I shared it yesterday with a strong, beautiful woman I know, and she cried. She has also spent too much time feeling unsafe and has been looking outside of herself for the assurance that she is OK.
It’s not something I share a lot, because it seemed for so long like my private baggage to unpack. But maybe the experience is broader than I imagined or maybe the universe just led me to talk to the one other person in the world who is tugging the same suitcase behind her.
The other reason I’m sharing it is to remind myself.
It’s easy to drown out your inside world, even when you are alone. You can read, watch television, binge on an old television series that’s livestreamed on your phone. You can busy yourself into oblivion.
You can go for days without listening to yourself. Or you can pause. Insert small spaces into the craziness that is our lives and listen to your tiny voice. Tell yourself what only you know you need to hear.
I am safe. You can be, too.
Leave a Reply