In looking back, I am understanding how the requirement to be my own best friend has always lead me into internal conversations.
One great thing about human relationships is that we can spread the ambiguity and ambivalence. The final answer might be patchwork and rough, but at least in the conversations we have leading up to that point we get to take pure and perfect positions, arguing for this factor or that, fighting out a compromise outside ourselves.
For example, a family may have to choose if they want to attend an event or not. Their process of making that decision is externalized. It may be true that it is both an obligation and there are preferable things to do, but when one person takes one position and another takes another, it works to process.
For an introvert dealing with stigma who lives an internalized life, well, it’s not that simple. Analysis paralysis is easy.
The therapist I saw in the 1980s noticed. “I have people come in all the time telling me that, for example, ‘My boss is an idiot,'” he told me. “But you come in and tell me that, and then tell me “but the reason he is making those choices is because. . .’ You take their position, work to understand, have compassion. That’s different.”
Other people see that. One commenter on this blog offered “I feel a certain hope that your compassion is going to get you past these things…”
But that compassion is very much part of my internalized conversations, that requirement to puzzle things out inside by taking multiple positions to find some kind of center.
Recently, for example, I know I have lost that balance, falling too far onto the cynical & sad side. In the past when this happened, I would often find myself writing a letter to me, reminding me of hope & possibility, of the good things lost in the mess.
I take these internal conversations as normal now, unremarkable. It just happens. The first time I met Virginia Prince, she thought I wasn’t embracing my femme side. I wondered which femme side she was talking about; my Jonathan Winters energy always ended up with lots of voices bouncing around in my head.
I guess I can’t imagine how you can possibly save yourself until and unless you can listen to many parts of you, the many points of view that are required to describe a complex world and a nuanced worldview. I know that I can no more see my own heart than I can see the back of my own head; I can only see the choices I make (or want to make) and learn from those choices.
I have seen lots of therapeutic techniques designed to foster this kind of inner conversation, down to watching someone hop between chairs labeled with points of view in a demonstration at IFGE Portland 1994. Many have figured out that to live the examined life we have to be willing to examine our own inner voices.
I know that some believe I have taken this a bit far, adopting a number of posting personae over the years. But this has been useful to me, speaking in another voice and seeing what comes out. The process of becoming someone else to understand them has always served me well, as it has many shamans and femmes through the centuries. When Ms. Rachelle tells me she finds my written conversations good because she can easily tell the difference in voice and point of view, I know I have succeeded. In fact, hidden on this blog is a very long series of conversations between me and a therapist also played by me, conversations that came out of some very, very tough times.
I know that my own inner conversations have been key to my own self-discovery and actualization. I have let the facets speak, and they have helped me map my own inner landscape.
For me, I don’t know how I would survive without a thriving inner conversation, a talk show in my head.
But maybe tha’t’s just me.