I am an external processor. Â I need to get my thoughts outside of my head and heart to be able to, with any sense of accuracy, decipher them. Â For my entire life, I’ve used the generous ears of others to intellectually and emotionally wrestle with myself. With this incessant, outloud-thinking, I’ve burned a bridge or two – exhausting the patience of some and fully completely running off others. Despite this disease of the mouth, my wife remains by my side and I still consider myself in the good graces of at least a handful of close friends.
For the majority of my life, I’ve been extremely insecure with my identity as a verbal processor. Â It’s not normal, at least in the, “most people don’t do this” sort of “normal test”. Â I hate burdening people with my circular thoughts and rhetorical questions. I am keenly aware of the moment a friend has “had enough” of my rambling and their eyes “gloss over” in mental exhaustion. It would be so much easier to have simpler and more focused conversations with my wife, instead of problem-solving, thought-explorative, or introspective ones.
But I’ve come to terms with this part of who I am. Â I need to let the chaos in my head and heart escape from their confines and breathe the open air of the world – if even for a few moments. I realize that having these “conversations with myself” have the potential to be damaging. Â What emerges from these sessions are often unfinished and less than fully matured. Processing externally means I will often say things I don’t mean. I will inevitably be guilty of staking claim to concepts that I haven’t had sufficient time to ponder. Â I will make responses without considering the depths and complexity of emotion or experience. Above all, I will be wrong….and often. Â But, this is how I best understand myself – through the public, yet honest exploration of what is really going on inside myself.
For so many years, I’ve dabbled with writing as a medium for this self-discovery, but have never given it the effort or applied the discipline necessary to make a real go at it. Â I wonder if it might be a more healthy way to get my thoughts out. When I verbally process my thoughts, the other person serves as a mirror, reflecting the beauty or horror of my thinking so that I may become aware of it. Â For some reason, no matter how well i thinkI understand the thoughts in my head, seeing their impact on the expression of a friend is so much more exposing. Â But perhaps the words on a page can serve me in this way. Â On the page, Â I can see the ideas as if they came from someone else. Â Once the concepts have been submitted, I can react to and judge them as if they have been somehow divorced from my possession. And then there’s the possibility that this “thinking outloud” might resonate with others who come across it and provide a sense of comfort, of challenge, or of solidarity.Â This is the most I can hope – that in the selfish need to understand myself, that someone might come to better understand themselves.
So I will try to write. I get over the hill of excuses and self-doubt. Â I will write for myself and, in doing so, hope that it extends beyond myself.