I have this constant internal monologue that critiques every decision I make throughout every day.
Maybe it’s part of being an INFJ. Maybe it’s a by-product of growing up in a sub-culture that teaches that you cannot trust yourself. Maybe it’s part of being a perfectionist and an idealist. I don’t know.
But this internal monologue is exhausting. Sometimes it’s my voice. Sometimes it’s the voice of a mostly-forgotten teacher or mentor or elementary school friend or preacher or person on the street even. But it’s rarely actually their voices so much as a twisted version of them.
I have this idea that I have to be okay all the time.
I have to smile, even when I’m trying not to cry.
I have to socialize, even when I need solitude.
I have to only talk about positive things, never the things that hurt.
I have to pretend that I’m not depressed or panicked or triggered.
And you know, I used to be really, really good at it.
Okay, probably not really good at it. People have always sensed that I’m an old soul, that there is a well of sadness within me. But they’re usually blind-sided the first time I decide to be honest about it.
Now, I’m tired. I’m so tired. Fighting the sadness is a daily struggle for me, and sometimes the sadness just wins no matter what I do to fight it. And the internal monologue I have just drones on about how weak I am, how selfish I am, how inconsiderate I am, how stupid and heartless and childish and petty I am. My internal monologue is basically a never-ending stream of verbal abuse.
So sometimes, like today, I have to take a step outside of myself. I pretend that I am someone else, that I am a friend. A friend who is emotionally worn down and weary and weepy and going through a really intense cycle of self-loathing.
And while I’m pretending this, I realize that I’m sure there are friends of mine going through similar battles who, like me, are trying to hide it so desperately.
So here I am, talking to you, too.
I speak softly, but make sure that I’m heard over all the voices that are raging in my head about my worthlessness.
“You don’t have to be okay.
You’re allowed to be sad.
You’re allowed to cry.
You’re allowed to be overwhelmed.
It’s okay. Really.
Not being okay is okay sometimes.
You don’t owe happiness to people when you don’t feel it.
You don’t owe happiness to people at the expense of your emotional and mental and spiritual health.
It’s okay to take care of you, and sometimes that looks like not being okay.”
And I wrap myself up in a robe, then swath myself in a blanket, then wrap my cold fingers around a hot mug of coffee, and I breathe. I just breathe.
Because I’m not okay today.
And I don’t have to be.