Monday, April 12, 2010
It's a family story; it's a funny story. It's probably a family urban legend conglomeration at this point, but this is how I remember it. My sister, Deanie, at age 17, was dating a boy named Sam. But she had allowed another male suitor onto our porch for a friendly flirt and chat. When Sam arrived to collect Deanie for their date, my caught-in-the-act sister, ran into the house and hid in a closet. Two things are important here: None of the doors in our house had locks. And, my little brothers were never ones to cover for their older sisters. Sam, mystified by the front porch competitor suitor, marched into the house in hot pursuit of my sister, and his potentially two-timing girlfriend.
"Oh, she's not here!" I covered. "She's gone out."
Sam, perplexed, was not buying it. Boys will be boys they say. And sure enough, my younger brothers announced, "Oh yes she is!! She's hiding in the closet right over there!"
Seizing his cue, Sam began pulling on the closet door. The door pulled back. Sam yanked. The closet door slammed shut again. Clearly there was a very real force resisting the opening of the door----with all of her might. One final yank and out jumped Deanie---into an arabesque, as if she had finally located the very item she had barricaded herself in the closet to retrieve.
"Ta-Da! Here I am!"
Making up stuff as she went along, Deanie, unconvincingly tried,"I was just in there trying to find the scarf I got last Christmas!" That was her story and by G_d, she was sticking to it!
But, as we say in 2010---busted. Deanie was busted, found out, outed. The jig was up. That's where Deanie found herself that day---hiding in a closet trying to juggle the parts of herself that were conflicted. (Of course, none of us used those words on that day. We called her names, made fun of her and harassed her mercilessly.) And then we tried to kill our little brothers. The skanks.
Sometimes, maybe too often-- we find ourselves at a place in our lives where we don't want to be---or know how to be. How did I get here, exactly? This is not where I thought I would be ten years ago---or even last week. But here I am. I know we've all had those kinds of experiences in which we wish there had been a closet close by in which we could lose ourselves. Just cover ourselves with quilts and blankets and stay closed up until whatever personal storm we were having died down or passed on by. And, it can be so aggravating too, when people around us keep yanking at the door and forcing us to come out of hiding. "Just leave me alone. I want to be here in the dark----with just myself--away from what's going on out there." It's sort of like we kidnap our very own selves and end up holding ourselves hostage. Hmmm. How does that serve us? (Always a good question to ask.)Do you know what I mean? I know you do. Even if the closet is not a real wooden cave, we all have times when we just long to climb inside that cave and wait. Wait 'til the "bad" stuff is over.
I'm older now. I have cellulite. My arms are flabby, so that means I know a lot about life. It is harder for us to hide from ourselves than it is to come out with the truth. Hiding is so alluring, but it is a fake, flimsy and temporary fix. Gosh, it is so darn hard to say some stuff. Especially junk that grips us around the neck and tends to suffocate us right in our own paths. I am thinking about secrets we keep or junk about our lives that we don't dare share with even close friends perhaps. Saying the truth out loud about some things can feel terrifying. But the minute we say "it," then we own it and it no longer owns us.
I have been afraid at times of my own feelings about Taylor and my life with him. In fact, there have been a number of feelings and things apart from Taylor that have "held me hostage" with my unspoken, unconscious consent.
I have gone into an emotional closet many times and dared anybody to pull on that door knob. "Nobody would understand," is what I told myself. People pulled. I resisted. Pull. Resist. Yank. Yank----and finally, thankfully...an arabesque.
Slowly I have learned to share my real feelings about myself---out loud.
There is such freedom there. And amazingly there is a community of people....like you.
Like my sister Deanie said, when she finally popped out of that closet,
Ta-Da! Here I am!
And, so I ask you, "Where are you?"
Are you saying, "Ta-Da! Here I am! This is me!
This is who I am!"?
And let me just remind you right now of what Joseph Campbell said, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."
Can't beat that with a stick, can you?