I used to struggle with honesty. A lot.
When I say that, I’m saying that I used to lie so much about everything that it really didn’t matter what we were talking about, I probably slipped a lie in there somewhere.
I’m not entirely certain why I used to lie so much. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really like myself, or was afraid of how much people wouldn’t like who I was, or who really knows. All I know is that I hid so much of the truth of myself that it got downright ridiculous.
It wasn’t until about twelve years ago when I finally fully realized how much I was into hiding the truth. I had gone down somewhat of a deep hole, leading into some pretty hefty doses of depression, and ultimately getting to a point where I just didn’t know who I was, or who I was supposed to be. A large part of that conversation is one I still have with myself today. The idea of being happy with who I was had long passed me by because I had been so afraid of who I was that I had utterly lost it.
Acting became an outlet I greatly enjoyed because even though the characters I played were generally the goofy sidekicks, these were still the few moments where I might actually have something to emote…
You see, because once I allowed the façade I had created to fall, there was something of an emptiness that developed. I really didn’t know how to express myself and the creative expression allowed through something like acting really worked for me, it allowed me to have something to express even if I didn’t have it myself.
I credit my lame attempts at acting with helping me to actually find myself. And shortly after I began acting on a regular basis, I starting finding my need to express my own thoughts and ideas increasingly demanding. Which is when I really began to write.
I had always written, but for many years what I wrote was absolute garbage. I’m not going to say my early attempts at getting back into writing immediately came out golden (as it was far from that), but it immediately had a very different quality to it.
There’s an often quoted phrase used for writing which says: Write what you know. This doesn’t mean that you should write a book about the ins and outs of medical coding documentation simply because that’s what you spend your days with. It means that you need to write what’s true.
For such a long period of my life I couldn’t write truth because I didn’t have any.
As I began forcing myself to be true, to allow the real me out whether people liked him or not, I began seeing that come through on my writing. Most specifically in my characters.
Now that I’ve been getting older, I’ve been reflecting on the years before I decided to stop hiding behind lies and have come to the realization that not much of that time is easy for me to remember. I hid so much from the truth that much of my early years have been mostly forgotten.
So, when an opportunity for writing a piece for a new anthology piece came up, imagine my surprise when I decided to take a piece of my own personal history and turn it into a story.
Imagine my greater surprise when I began writing this story and I realized how utterly pathetic I was as the main character of this tale…something I had always known to be true to some extent, but, well, I didn’t realize the true lengths of patheticism involved here.
In fact, the actual truth of these moments, a truth I had never forced myself to accept until now, has been quite painful. I was a naïve fool who spent his time in constant fear that people who recognize me for who I truly was. And I didn’t really understand that until a few days ago.
Again, I realized it, but not to the extent that this was true.
But what does this have to do with anything? Always a good question to bring up with my blog posts.
You see, my daughter came home this week talking about Vincent van Gogh. She often learns about new artists in her art class and comes home talking about all the cool things that she learned about them. But van Gogh was different. She wasn’t telling me all about him as much as she was asking for more information. Luckily he’s one of the artists she’s come home talking about whom I have a bit of information about.
When talking with her about van Gogh, I immediately saw that same concept of honesty involved. For a man who spent so much time painting sunflowers, you still saw the honesty in his work, that he was pouring himself into what he was doing. Yet, he still seemed like he was hiding, and his ultimate end probably states that even more that any of his work does. He died in relative obscurity because no one saw him for who he truly was. He mailed a woman a piece of his ear instead of a piece of his art, folks!
But his art was the true him. It was him being honest, possibly because he couldn’t be honest in person. It was his soul being allowed to be expressed.
I’ve so often felt like that, felt that I couldn’t express who I am to people in person, which has been the great thing about creative expression. But it’s also the necessary piece of creative expression, because if there isn’t truth there, there isn’t worth.
The piece I’m writing right now, about my own personal history, it’s brought up some bad memories, some old wounds have definitely begun to sting. Not that I’m reliving the days and wishing things had gone differently, because I’m pretty happy with my life, but that I’m realizing what had truly happened and coming to terms with what all it might have truly meant…and becoming a bit more aware of who I truly am…something I’m still trying to come to terms with.
But I’d still rather write about zombies…
Have fun out there!