Discover more from Stark Raving Mad
This isn't a story I'm ready to tell
The things I don't talk about
(Note: in editing this it occurs to me some people might have guesses as to what this is about. I can assure you that you don’t, the story behind it is bizarre enough that it does not lend itself even to more robust speculation. That I’m not talking about is the entire point of this post, but I do want to ensure I’m not- even by ommission- placing myself in a particular group to which I do not belong.)
I don’t talk about my past a lot. It’s amazing how much people think they know about you if they get a little info about the beginning and a little recent info and some high professional points in the middle. Where I went to school and the places I worked form the illusion of fullness, of a history without gaps and questions and strange spots.
I don’t talk about it for a lot of reasons. Ok, that’s not true. I don’t talk about it for three reasons.
The first reason is that it’s hard to digest. I get a lot of questions. Not interested questions, but weird or unbelieving questions. I don’t always know what to do with those, simply because I don’t understand why anyone would make this up. I don’t like this story, and I don’t want to live it. I don’t want it to have touched nearly every minute I’ve spent on this planet. If I got to choose a story it sure as hell wouldn’t be this one.
I tell a lot of half truths in passing to avoid those questions. They’re easy ones. Estrangement. Geographical complications. Easily swallowed. I’ve gotten really good at knowing which ones don’t provoke follow up questions. It’s a learned skill, a protective mechanism.
That’s because of the second reason I don’t talk about it. The second reason is that people who get it often don’t like it. They’ll understand, and they’ll absord it, and then they’ll check out of my life for good. The supportive platitudes quickly turn into texts that go unreplied to and calls that go unreturned. These are the people who assume that no one lives through this story and is ok after. I’m still the same person they’ve known for years but they don’t think so. Somehow I’m no longer their friend who used to dogsit and who was part of decades of shared memories. I’m something else now, something broken. Something that can’t be fixed. That sucks. I hate that.
I look better in this light too. Don’t be fooled, there’s something absolutely self-serving about it. That’s the third reason. When I’m asked why I don’t embrace the good things I’ve learned along the way and the answer is because I’m fucking terrified that it’ll turn out bad too, and I live in between that fear and the competing fear that time is going to take away opportunities before I ever get a chance to.
So I don’t tell this story often. I’m working on it though. Maybe I’m still internalizing the fact that my story is more of the sum of the things that happened to me. It’s not easy work. I took a big step recently. I’m going to take more. I’ll get there. Maybe someday I’ll even share it in some form. But I’m not there yet.