The Inner Monologue

I wrote this post awhile back, but when I wrote it I didn’t intend to publish it or share it. It was just for me, to express relief over finally finding a new level of self-acceptance that I didn’t even know that I was looking for. I decided to share it now not just because I’m in a much better place, but because I think it could be a benefit to others that may stumble across my blog. 
Internal monologue, also known as interior monologue, inner voice, internal speech, or stream of consciousness is thinking in words. It also refers to the semi-constant internal monologue one has with oneself at a conscious or semi-conscious level.
I don’t know why, but I never really considered my thought process to be an inner monologue, although of course it is just that. My thought process is a stream of narration from an inner voice, one that internally comments on everything I see and hear. And I have to admit, the narrator of my inner monologue is something of a critical bitch. She seldom has anything nice to say to me about anything. “See that girl?” she hisses in my ear. “That girl is prettier than you, and smarter, and more successful. You will never be that good.”
For years, this has been my reality. My day to day life was fraught with harsh self-criticisms that at some point, I lost all perspective on. They were so ingrained in my psyche that I didn’t even consciously examine them, just accepted them for truth and fought a never-ending battle to try to change them. Never mind that no matter who I became, they never DID change. It was a constant cycle of me working my ass off to be successful enough, smart enough, thin enough….GOOD enough. But because the dialogue never changed, it didn’t matter how much I as a person changed – the criticisms were still there. And frankly, that’s an exhausting existence.
After becoming aware of the concept of the inner monologue, I then had the consciousness that I could change mine. The next morning when I was getting ready for work, my Inner Narrator began her typical running commentary on how I didn’t look good, my clothes didn’t fit right, and I would be worse than all the rest today, so why bother trying in the first place. For the very first time, I had a shocking revelation: no one has EVER said things like that to me. For the first time, I could actually see that I didn’t have negative ideas about myself because other people had planted them in my head. I had them because I had repeatedly said those things internally about myself. 
Recognizing that you have an unhealthy internal monologue is one thing. Changing that unhealthy internal monologue is an entirely different undertaking, and not nearly as easy as the realization of its existance. I’m retraining my mind after years of detrimental thoughts. When that Inner Narrator hisses at me, “You look really fat today,” I am learning to roll my eyes at her and say, “No, I don’t. Shut up. I’m just fine today.” The whole process reminds me of a part of the movie ‘The Help’, when kindly maid Aibileen is telling her charge Mae Mobley You is kind, you is smart, you is important, and teaching the child to repeat it back about herself. The idea behind that exercise was to instill in the little girl a sense of self-worth, and to help her develop a positive inner monologue. Perhaps we all ought to recite these things to ourselves.
Does the Inner Narrator still get to me? Sometimes, yes, absolutely she does. She’s got a knack for sensing insecurities and preying on them. The important thing is learning to dismiss negative thoughts and to ultimately replace them with positive ones. I will say that since I’ve embarked on this change in thought process, I’ve noticed a change in my internal monologue. I’m steering it to a more positive place, one where Inner Narrator and I will ultimately be able to coexist peacefully.

My Recent Battles

Over the last few weeks, for the most part I’ve tried to keep my blog posts to the fluffy, upbeat variety. There’s nothing wrong with that type of writing, but a lot of my reasoning behind it was that I was dealing with some not-so-fun stuff and have been feeling pretty wrung out. Now that I’ve seemingly come through to the other side of my recent difficulties, I feel like I can be open about what I’ve experienced and what I’ve taken away from it.
“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”  -Unknown
Ever have a situation that starts unremarkably enough, but then snowballs? That was what happened with my oldest cat, Angel. One morning I was playing with her, and noticed a strange-looking growth coming out of her paw pad, curving upward toward her claw. I’d never seen anything like it, and although I wasn’t terribly concerned, I did want to get it checked out. I did some research on the Internets and was fairly confident that she had what’s called a Horned Paw Pad. According to what I read, if that was all the growth was then it could be trimmed with kitty nail clippers to keep it from bothering her. But since I didn’t know for sure, I made an appointment to have her seen by the vet.
The vet confirmed my suspicions: Angel’s growth was a horned paw pad. She demonstrated for me how to keep it trimmed, and that should have been that. But as she looked over my kitty, she also noticed that Angel was showing signs of gum disease, and may need to have as many as two teeth extracted. So we made an appointment for Angel to have pre-op blood work followed by a dental cleaning (cats are put under anesthetic for dental procedures). The blood work was recommended due to Angel’s age (she’s eleven), and even though it was optional, I agreed to have it done, just because of the slim chance that something could go wrong in surgery. So this led to a second trip to the vet to have her blood drawn, and then the main event, the morning of her surgery. The plan for the morning was simple: I’d drop Angel off and go to work, and then pick her up in the evening. But in my life, things seldom go as planned, and this was no exception. The vet explained to me that Angel’s blood work had revealed a slight abnormality in her kidney function, which was cause for enough concern to hold my kitty overnight after her surgery to administer post-op fluids and monitor her, as well as to run more tests. Although I wasn’t really happy not to have my girl overnight, I agreed, and I managed to make it out to my car and drive to work without crying or getting too upset. I’m trying to learn not to freak out until I have a reason to, and at that point, I didn’t know anything. I arranged to take the next day off from work so that I could pick up Angel and stay home with her since she was going to be pretty unhappy post-surgery.
Angel’s vet stay had mixed results: happily, she went through surgery well, and more tests revealed that her kidney function may just be slightly lower than is considered “normal” in cats. She’ll have another test in a few months just to make sure her levels are staying, well, level. On the gum disease front, the news wasn’t as good: she ended up having a total of seven teeth extracted. All things considered, she did great, and she’s now fully recovered and her normal happy self. Missing some of her teeth doesn’t seem to daunt her whatsoever.
I would do anything for this girl. 
Here’s the thing about trips to the vet: they’re expensive. I knew when I adopted cats that there was a chance that over time they’d have medical issues, and I’ll gladly pay whatever I need to in order to keep my babies happy and healthy. I will never begrudge one of my pets the cost of their vet bills. But it IS costly, and without another thought to it I charged all of Angel’s medical treatments to my credit card with the plan of paying off the balance when I got my paycheck. So imagine my shock when I checked my bank account and realized that my paycheck was $1200 short of what it should have been. Again, no reason to panic until I know what’s going on, and I absolutely assumed that my missing money was an annoying payroll error that I could have corrected.
Never assume. Never, never, never.
My shortened paycheck was actually my company’s way of notifying me that a portion of my pay was going to be calculated differently, which, long story short, translates into my being paid $1200 less per month. I was upset about the change and outraged that no one had the courtesy to notify me or my boss that this was going to happen. All I could think about was the balance on my credit card for vet bills that I had slated that $1200 for and now wouldn’t be getting.
Ultimately the higher-ups did agree that it was a lousy way to handle things, and I am being paid on my normal scale until July, when the new pay rate kicks in. If there’s a silver lining to all of this, it’s that I have had a huge wake-up call to pay more attention to how much I’m spending and to budget my money better. I’ve made a lot of financial changes to my life, some that bum me out (like not getting my nails done). But I know this will help me to be better off in the long run. Overnight, my priorities when it came to spending changed dramatically.
I admit, in the aftermath of all this, I’ve been pretty down (hence the reason for fluff blog posts….not that I think those are bad). But I’m slowly finding the good in my new reality. Like in the mornings when Angel comes into the bathroom to “help” me get ready for work, when she meows and chatters at me, when she hogs my pillow at night, I’m just so grateful to see her healthy and back to her old self again. My family and friends have rallied around me and supported me, even when I’m sure I’ve sounded like a broken record complaining about things, and the love I’ve felt is overwhelming. No one seems to care if I don’t have the money to pick up the tab for lunch or go out anymore. In fact, one of the best days I’ve had lately was last Sunday, when Paul and I just stayed home and lounged in the backyard and had a lazy afternoon together. And I know there are people out there who have it much, much worse than me, like the sweet girl I work with who just lost her sister in a car accident. Compared to her, I have it easy, and no doubt she’d give anything to trade places with me.
“You never know how truly blessed you are in life until you see someone who has it worse than you.”  -Unknown
So I’ll take the good with the bad, and I am grateful that my loved ones are happy and (once again) healthy. I know that a time will come with my beloved kitties when the story isn’t going to end happily ever after, and I’m just thankful that this time, it did.
“Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember ‘Life is too short to be little’” –– Dale Carnegie