I posses a very unique skill set. I can eradicate all evidence of a Burger King meal. I’m so meticulous I think I missed my calling as a serial killer or “body disposer” for the mob. You’ll find no trace of Whopper, fry, or ketchup pack in my home or car. You won’t even find a rogue grain of salt. I scrub my nails with rubbing alcohol. I triple-bag each wrapper and dump everything a block from my home.
I don’t have OCD. I just don’t want to have to explain to my wife that I broke my diet. She wouldn’t yell or get angry. I just like how proud she’s been of me. I don’t want her to be disappointed. I like seeing her happy, knowing I’m getting healthy. So I cover the truth.
How often we do that? How many times do we lie so others won’t be disappointed? We erase our search history so no one will know what we’re jerking off to. We clam up when someone asks us if we believe in God. It’s why we wax our eyebrows and suck in our gut. We just want to be liked.
But does anyone really know us?
My mother hid her truth until she was forty-five. She played the role of dutiful, heterosexual housewife. She focused on her children. She didn’t want us to be punished for her secret. Kansas City wasn’t exactly progressive. She knew people wouldn’t just judge her; they’d judge us. She feared folks like my aunt might try to damage her reputation in order to rip us from her care.
I know this fear. When I was diagnosed with bipolar II, I didn’t want anyone to find out. I was terrified of being institutionalized.
I kept quiet about my thoughts of suicide. I told the doctors I wasn’t a danger to myself. I didn’t want people to stop trusting me. I didn’t want to limit my options, so I buried the darkness. I told people I had the flu, that I had bad diarrhea so they’d stay away. I needed to keep up the lie.
But it’s exhausting. Maintaining a fake identity chips away at your sanity until finally one day you just say, “Fuck it! I don’t care. This is me. I’m a weirdo.”
That’s what happened to my mom. After years of lying, she finally came clean. It was good and terrifying. She was out, and there was no going back in.
She’s an amazing woman, and her courage inspired me to start this blog.
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