Fashionable senior woman with grey hair posing in studio, looking at camera. Casual look.

Learning To Trust My Inner Voice

I’ve been in the midst of a mostly pleasant midlife (cough) reawakening for a few years. As I reached 40, I figured it was bound to be almost over, but it’s looking like I’ve got about 30 more years to go.

I was absent-mindedly scrolling on my phone and saw a request for a foster family for two teensy, 2 pound, 6-week-old puppies on a posting board. I looked up and saw that I’d replied “meeeeeeee!!!!!!!!” with enough exclamation points to make my 13-year-old self excited.  My brain hadn’t even processed it, much less thought through it.

My first conscious thought was, “Wait. What? Did I just type that?  More puppies? Really? Now? Noooooo. I’d just steam cleaned the rugs.” I wondered if I’d seem like a crazy person to un-volunteer 30 seconds after I said “yes.”  Then I thought maybe I was crazy, as I had no idea how “meeeeee!!” went from my hands to the post without passing through my brain.

I love fostering dogs for our humane society, but we’d just finished fostering three of them (two of whom were born in our kitchen). The Eau de pee in my house was finally starting to dissipate and I was actually really enjoying the quiet and the peaceful emptiness without them.

So I wondered who had answered, “meeeee!!!!!!!!!” so clearly in that instant? That version of myself acted on its own accord totally outside my syntax’s regular firing.

Impulse control is not one of my issues. I’ve got plenty of others, namely overthinking. I’ll roll around, analyze and think through a decision until 2020; will finally make a decision (with a backup plan) then reroll it until 2025 just to make sure. And that’s for which $20 throw pillows to buy at Target.

As I mulled it over (back in regular brain mode),  I started to think maybe it was the same Self who keeps breaking up with boyfriends when I thought everything was just peachy.

Me: “What did you just say?”

Other Me: “I said ‘This isn’t working.”

Me: “But why? He’s cute and nice!”

Other Me: “Did you not hear me the first time? We’re done here.”

Me: “But I’m not so sure. He’s got such potential”

Other Me giving me ‘The One Raised Eyebrow Mom Look: “It’s over.”

Me, pouting: “Buuuuut I could make this work with just a teensy bit more work. Promise. Let’s give it another shot.

Other Me: “Hells no. I am walking away and you will follow me. Now.”

Me, super-pouting with slumped shoulders: “Umph. Now, what am I going to do?”

Other Me: “Trust me.”

You’d think I’d see it coming now that she’s done it three times in a row, but I never do. Everyone involved is always a little surprised. Mostly me. Apparently, the puppy was a consolation prize from her for one of the boyfriends that I was really pouting about. Gee, thanks.

So who the hell is this other Self? She elbows her way in, interrupts my conversations with no apology or introduction and says, “Katiegirl, I’ve seen how this goes down and I will be handling this. Step aside,” or “You’ve already messed this up and I am not going to watch you do this anymore—we are done here.” Or “Yes, yes, yes.”

I’m pretty sure that She, my inner voice, is my 70-year-old future self. I love her (mostly), but she is something else y’all—smart as a whip and so self-assured. She’s fiercely loving, decisive and confident and always right dammit, even when I disagree. She speaks in clear  “yes’s and no’s” (and the occasional “me’s!!!!!!!!!!”). My current self speaks in “maybes, ummms, yeah buts, wells, and just ifs.”

One of those 6-week-old puppies that 70-year-old Self said “yes!!!!!!!!!” to, who I had planned on fostering for 2 weeks, will now be with us for the next 15-20 years. We adopted her. One response. One post. One-half second of not thinking, but doing. And it has changed each and every day of my life and filled it with soft fur, a wagging tail, so many dog kisses (and yes, so much dog pee).

It seems like the lesson should be, use caution, be thoughtful. Because typing in two quick unanalyzed keystrokes of an “m” and an “e” will now affect each and every day of my next decade or so.

But you know when I get in the most trouble? When I’m too thoughtful, too rational, too logical. Because I can think and justify and come up with a reason and meaning on any side with enough time. Because at that point it takes on its own life and is no longer me.

The puppy has filled a huge love-hole for me over the past couple of months, she’s kept me company in a wonderfully space filled and quiet house while I start the work I should have been doing, but was procrastinating by dating.  She has crawled into the laps of upset children and comforted them when I could not. She has found and eaten every lost crayon in the house so I don’t have to vacuum them up. Her place is here. She was our dog the instant I hit post. Before I even knew we would need her to get through a rough patch that I hadn’t seen coming.

70-year-old me has the power of instant discernment of my truest truth. And that may be the strongest superpower in the universe. And how comforting that 70-year-old me is eventually going to be me and she is always looking out for me before I even know I need a superhero or a super dog.

Katie Roach Dudley is a first generation Southerner and a mediocre aficionado of beer, bbq, cornhole, bad parenting, yoga and greenish living. She dreams of starting a commune with interiors by Darryl Carter, activities planned by Club Med and food by Momofuku. Until then, she’ll be doing public relations for the school she loves, reading self help books, and competitively eating chocolate chip cookies while squeezing her two beloved kids in a giant bear hug.

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