Monsters are peculiar creatures that take a myriad of different forms depending on the context. Some take the form of terrible hairy beasts, some take the form of really terrible people out to do others harm, and then there are those that take the form of our own thoughts; that voice in your head that decides to break you when you’ve begun to hit a stride. We spend so much time worrying about the first and second monsters that we seem to be completely blindsided by the third. I’ve yet to meet the first kind of monster, I have however met the other two monsters. I grew surrounded by the second type of Monster. These people came in the form of my school bullies, and sadly my own father. The third one wouldn’t manifest itself until I became and adult. The third kind of monster is a sinister being that we don’t even realize we’re dealing with until we wonder why our thought processes are so fucked. We’ve met this monster the day we realize we can’t take compliments. We’ve also met this monster the day you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see. We’ve also met this monster the day things are going really well and you’re all of a sudden bombarded by thoughts of all the things that could possibly go wrong. It’s not a physical monster, it’s one that lives inside of your head. It’s a product of your experiences both good and bad. Now I should note that this phenomenon is very different from schizophrenia; that’s not what we’re gonna talk about here. We’re gonna talk about that train of thought, and what happens when your anxieties and doubts become an accelerant for a fire that becomes notoriously difficult to put put once it gets started.
Self Talk refers to the ongoing internal conversation with ourselves, which influences how we feel and behave. For example, you find yourself in a traffic jam while rushing to work one morning. Your self-talk could be pessimistic and you might think, “My whole day is ruined. If I don’t get to work on time, I’ll never hear the end of it. My boss will think that I’m no good and will surely pass me up for that promotion I’ve been working all year for.” You will then start your day in a bad mood and feel demotivated thinking that there’s no point in working hard since you already ruined your chances for a promotion. On the other hand, you could have a more positive self-talk and think, “I’ll probably be no more than ten minutes late. I guess I’ll just have to take a quick lunch instead of going out to eat. If I can turn in my report before the end of the day and make sure that it’s error-free, I might still have a chance to get that promotion.” Self talk is prevalent among most neurotypicals. Autistics tend to verbalize this self talk, a behavior that can take years to coach out of someone on the spectrum. I’ve learned to keep this self talk confined to my head, unfortunately it’s also where my problems begin.
One of greatest gifts is the ability to take a situation from the outside world, take it with me inside of my head, and analyze it at a level I couldn’t while it was outside of my head. This becomes super useful when it comes to any sort of problem solving. This however can be problematic as It is very difficult to get out of my head once I’m in there. It’s very easy for me to trap myself with my thoughts, both good and bad. This becomes a serious problem when I’m trapped in my own head with a barrage of negative thoughts. In the past I have referred to the proverbial glass prison; it’s the phenomenon of dealing with mental issues that no one can see. It’s also a metaphor I use to describe the act of not letting people in on what I maybe dealing with mentally because I either think people will laugh at me for over thinking something so minuscule, or because I’m afraid people might not be able to handle what I’m dealing with at the time. Most of the time it’s the former, sometimes the latter.
Lately I’ve been dealing with this negative self talk pretty regularly. Sharing various details about my Catholic faith as really wowed many around me and has moved them in ways I never thought I could. I feel good in the moment, but then I’m overwhelmed with anxiety. I wonder if I’m interpreting things the right way, or if I’m leading people astray. Some days I can hear myself saying that I might be full of shit. This infamous “what if I’m wrong?” screams in my head. I almost trashed this blog post a few minutes ago because I felt stuck. I wondered for a moment where I was trying to go with this post and felt that this post may be utterly useless. The root of this is a problem I had referenced in The Glass Prison Redux (Breaker of Chains…) where I tend to often second guess myself. In those moments of second guessing is where that negative self talk really takes center stage. There are days where I receive levels of love I’m just not ready for and I sit there wondering if I deserve the love I’m getting. I remember a few days ago visiting my girlfriend’s nana in the hospital; she was really moved by the card and rosary I brought her. I felt a bit anxious, I wondered if I deserved this love.
I mentioned way back in I Like Warm Hugs! that I sometimes suck at taking compliments. Usually at the end of confessions with my usual priest, he will end by telling me “You’re a good man”. I’m sometimes taken aback by this statement, for one thing, I literally just told this guys all the bad things I did and said between our sessions. Some days, I just don’t feel like I’m a good person. I sat with my therapist a recently and mentioned this anxiety. Within a few moments I went back to the years of bullying from classmates, and the years of verbal abuse from my father that prevented me from seeing any good in myself even when I wanted to. Their words turned into a lot of the negative self talk that manifests in my head. I’ve proven so many wrong over the course of my life and some days feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. This self talk nearly became the end of me several years ago when I struggled with suicidal thoughts. I could often hear myself tell myself how much I sucked and that the world would be better off without me.
I’ve also struggled a bit recently with my body image. I’ve come a long way from having 185 pounds of pure fat to being 150 and then gaining 20 pounds in muscle underneath a bit really stubborn fat, particularly in the gut area (I really like food). I’ve reached a level of fitness I haven’t had in years; I can run three to four miles, Bench 110 which doesn’t seem like much to most body builders, but a few years ago I could barely bench 20. Yet some days I’ll stare in the mirror not always fond of my appearance. I occasionally tell myself how fat I am even though my body mass is nowhere near where it was six years ago. The monster in my head is a sneaky motherfucker that rears his ugly head when I least expect it, preferably when I’m feeling good.
I’ve only recently attempted to finally keep this self talk in check. Some days are harder than others. I’ve given a name to this voice as per advice I’ve received. I named him Charles; every time one of those thoughts pop in my head, I mentally tell Charles to shut the fuck up. Monsters are only scary when we’re not staring them in the face. Some days I feel like putting my dad’s face to this monster because some days I just want to beat the shit out of him. I told myself I was done writing about my dad, yet here I am, writing about him again. I never realized until recently how negatively he has impacted my life. I never realized how deep those wounds were. I chose the name Charles for this monster because monsters try not to be menacing with others, it’s only when dealing with you that they throw the hay-makers. I’ve also been trying to practice mindfulness techniques that keep me in the present. Charles is the strongest when I’m stuck in my own head and they don’t fuck around when they say misery loves company. I just had another thought of trashing this blog post a few moments ago. I wonder what the fuck is the point and if people actually give a shit. Oh no, he’s crying about his daddy issues again, maybe he should grow the fuck up and stop being a fucking pussy. My head is a scary thing to have at times, but someone’s gotta have because how the fuck else am I supposed to change the world. If God didn’t want me to flip the world upside down he wouldn’t have made me as strange as I am. I hope to have something a bit more lighthearted to write the next time I log into this shit, for now I shall leave you with another one of my many struggles.