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My Own Best Friend

I am still enjoying American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.  I don’t have any brilliant insights into how one goes about keeping someone close who holds divergent views from your own, but there have been a few moments where I’ve grabbed my notebook and jotted down something because it resonated with me.

One of these moments is early on in the book when she confronts someone who swindled a family member.  She slips between two houses to cry in private and have a conversation with herself.  Within moments, she is calm and collected, and she states: “Long ago, I had become my own confidante” (p. 138).

When she calls herself her own confidante, she’s not being facetious.  She talks to herself — in her head, but still addressing her feelings, answering questions, and giving comfort.  She is the advice giver she wishes she had outside her own brain, but she doesn’t stress the fact that some of her relationships are strained.  She is, after all, her own confidante.

I sat thinking about this idea for a long time because I am someone who likes to spend time with myself.  Sometimes I will joke about it when I’m going out with myself and sing a throaty version of “My Own Best Friend” from Chicago.  But while I’m out, am I really talking to myself?

The act of telling yourself something, as I often do on this blog, creates clarity.  It leads you to action or puts things in perspective.  Writing it down, putting it into words, matters.  And maybe THAT is the biggest loss of people not writing on their own blogs.  Yes, they are still throwing up small bon mots on Facebook or Twitter, but they’re not delving deep, telling themselves their own story.  In stepping away from that conversation with yourself, do you lose that role as trusted confidante of your own mind?

Do you tell yourself things, or do you just assume your brain already knows everything happening in your life?

5 comments

1 Ana { 02.22.17 at 12:21 pm }

Whoa, I don’t remember that line in the book but YES this is me. I talk to myself, work problems out in my head, process things. I sometimes even move my lips and “subvocalize” when I’m deep in thought. I find myself to be an excellent listener and problem solver. My blog is the extension of that processing. I find it MUCH more helpful to spend some time working things out in my head or on the page before I engage in asking others for help—it takes me a while to formulate articulate conversation and I realize I’ve often “rehearsed” it in my own head before it comes out of my mouth to anyone else.

2 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.22.17 at 1:43 pm }

I think you’re right about one of the best benefits of blogging — the clarity finding and revealment that comes when you dig in to something.

3 Cassie Dash { 02.22.17 at 3:40 pm }

American Wife is one of my very favorite books. Every time I read it, I learn something new — about myself, about the people around me, about the way I perceive the world.

And yes, I talk to myself all the time — sometimes (embarrassingly) out loud, but mostly in my head. I’m the type who needs a lot of time to process privately before being able to articulate how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking aloud to someone else. And indeed, that is often what my blog has been to me — a means of processing and articulating before I go out into the world and deal with it face-to-face.

4 Jill A. { 02.22.17 at 4:01 pm }

Yes, I talk to myself. I argue with myself, too. I find that the somewhat subconscious, automatic part of my brain never made it past 9th or 10th grade. My adult parts have to ride herd on it constantly. It is stubborn, opinionated, smug and thinks it knows everything. Only sees black and white and tends to get its feelings hurt way, way to easily!

Writing helps sort out my mind. I don’t blog, but I have kept the occasional journal, written out my thoughts so I can see them and have several people I write with daily or weekly. Writing can open you up. Expose things to yourself and to others.

You do that in your blog, Mel. Sometimes it makes me catch my breath and worry for you. And admire you greatly.

5 Mali { 02.25.17 at 9:13 pm }

I’m always telling myself things, trying to figure out why I feel the way I do, and blogging (and earlier, messageboarding and volunteering) has totally helped me do that. I look at people who don’t do any of this, and wonder if they’re stagnating.

Assuming my brain doesn’t need any further figuring out or exercise would be the same as assuming my body was fine and I never needed to work out.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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