I Talk to Myself These Days– Do You? By Alice Herb
Since this more rigid lockdown due to the last COVID surge, I find myself more isolated than ever. I only see four people regularly: my Pilates trainer, my housekeeper, my super, and my son. Outdoor dining is a bit chilly. As is sitting in a park. Phone calls are sparse. There is so little happening in our lives that there is little to talk about. There I am at home staring at the walls yearning to have a conversation. So I’ve started talking to myself. At first, I thought I might be losing my sanity, descending into dementia, or just behaving like an eccentric old lady. But I was saved by a story in the Washington Post about the many people who live alone and find themselves doing just that.
Most people seem to be having mundane talks about household chores, urging themselves to do unpleasant tasks, and so on. While I do some of that, I also talk about serious issues on which I may have opposing views, trying to figure out the odds of different decisions, important or not, and trying to temper my moods. Family and friends, smiling, often ask me who wins these debates. Often I don’t know which side I’m on so it’s hard to answer that. Do I come to conclusions? Of course. I am very opinionated and don’t always agree with myself!
For example, recently a woman was executed – a rare event- and there was no question that she had committed a most heinous murder. What was my debate with myself? She was mentally ill, had been severely abused throughout her life, would have spent the rest of her desperate life in prison causing her more misery and costing taxpayers a lot of money. On the other side, I am steadfastly opposed to capital punishment. I believe no person should have the power to kill another legally and dispassionately no matter what the crime. How to resolve this dilemma? I had many arguments with myself. Wouldn’t it be better for her to end her misery? Maybe, but it is still capital punishment- and no mentally ill person should ever be executed. I batted that around for a couple of days and the “No Capital Punishment” argument won the day. Of course, it was a moot issue for this woman but my thoughts were on the future.
These days, much of my arguing with myself centers around the Inauguration and the terrible events that preceded it. I never questioned the illegality of the incursion. But I did question what should be done to the invaders. Should all of the ones identified be punished? What punishment fits these crimes? Prison, fines, both? Was Trump’s speech inciteful speech and not protected by law? Should these acts be added to the impeachment? Should the trial of the impeachment go forward? What is best for the country? Now you can imagine what loud conversations I’ve been having. None of them are in my power to resolve but what positions I would take and how I view our legislators and judges would influence my future voting. As you can imagine, my head is buzzing, even now, trying to figure all this out.
Though I have little brainpower left, I also get upset when a friend or a relative may be acting strangely or sounding needy. Should I get involved? Is it COVID depression? Did I say or do something offensive? Should I reach out? Mind my own business?
All these questions take up a lot of my energy and I’d rather be out having lunch or dinner with people face to face or going to a movie, or museum, or shopping. And I still have other questions such as, do I feel like cooking tonight? When should I do my laundry? What shall I watch or shall I read tonight? I mean it never stops.
How about you? Do you talk to yourself? Drive yourself crazy arguing with yourself? Or is that just me?
Alice Herb is a retired attorney, journalist, and bioethics consultant. Having reached the age of 85+, she’s more than ready to share her experiences and opinions with agebuzz readers. Want to comment on something she’s said? She welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
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