I’m Done With This Pretend Life…
Someone once said to me “the truth heals”… I was sitting in a room where someone was sharing an awful lot of personal details. I remember thinking, why would she do that… just tell everyone everything about her… now they’ll know and likely judge her and plus, now they KNOW.
We’re taught pretty young what’s acceptable, what we should and shouldn’t do, say, wear. Who we should and shouldn’t hang out with based on our parents financial situations, where we live and who we deem ourselves to be or where we sit in the caste society. It doesn’t matter if you have the biggest house on the “wrong” side of town, you’re still on the “wrong side of town”… know what I mean? There’s a list of right, wrong, do’s, don’ts. We inadvertently speak the truth out of the mouths of babes and we’re shushed and silenced… don’t say that… We learn its not ok to tell people that daddy got drunk and beat mommy up. We see people smile and hug their friends, then talk about them behind their backs, it’s confusing…but I guess that’s how it is… we’re nice to their face and talk about them behind their backs? We are taught to pretend.
We learn to put masks on very early. We are taught by our teachers what they expect and want, every teacher and every grade expectations change and we only learn it when someone steps out of line. It’s a lesson for all us in what to do and what not to do. We are taught by society how we should look and behave and we are taught what’s appropriate for a boy and girl… When a boy hits you it’s because secretly he likes you… umm… is that what we’re going with? We learn not to speak about the family member who has a mental illness, the drug addicted ones, the alcoholics, the ones who drink and drive, we don’t talk about the perverted uncle, we are told simply to “stay away” from certain people with no explanation as to why, we don’t talk about the money problems or the affairs or the criminals in the family. And dare something cross our lips, we are shushed.
“everything’s fine“. People are exceedingly uncomfortable with the truth. We like to play house and pretend everything’s fine. The woman getting her hair and nails done weekly, perfectly coifed but ignores her husbands gambling problem or affairs, living in stress, fear, worry and doubt but smiles and pretends everything is fine. The man who works day and night for his family, to provide for them, but gets 0 gratitude when he comes home, the money all gone and the weight of providing for everyone on his shoulders, nothing more than an ATM. The girl who had an abortion at 15 because her mother made her. The woman who had an abortion at 44 because her family was raised and she just couldn’t. The 22 year hooker who had 6 abortions… we don’t talk about those things. It’s easier to pretend it doesn’t happen.
Should we inadvertently speak the truth, we are reminded very quickly of what we should and shouldn’t be talking about. We don’t need to speak it … just witness it… “my she shares a lot” in a passive aggressive voice. I know. I used to think and say those things, a product of a world that taught us to pretend everything’s fine, to turn a blind eye and not ruffle feathers but use a scolding look to let those know they are out of line by speaking the truth. And we fall in line, we do as we’re told, we’re afraid of falling out of grace, of being outcasted, not accepted, not loved, we follow the rules to fit in, we sell out to be accepted and we bend over to be loved.
We don’t call the police when the family member pulls out of driveway, drunk, but we yak at water cooler “how can people do it”? We know in our soul it’s not ok, but we didn’t have the courage… because they’re family. We don’t report the neighbour for abusing his animals because we have to live next door to them. We know in our soul that it’s not right, but we turn a blind eye. We gloss over our histories, pretending they were amazing, but for a lot of people, it’s just not the truth. We pretend we’re fine even when we haven’t showered in 5 days. We pretend we’re fine when we’ve had the 40th one night stand and joke about it to our friends “use them or they’ll use you” hahahaha… meanwhile you cry in the shower, feeling used and alone and worthless.
We live in turmoil and wonder why we turn to drugs, alcohol, food, antidepressants to feel better? Why we zone out for hours on end? So we don’t have to deal. So we don’t hear the whispers of our soul telling us to step up, to do better… we’re terrified and living in fear of judgement, of not being accepted, not fitting in and therefore, not being loved. We often create the exact circumstances we are running from. We judge our alcoholic parents for the way they are but don’t see our own abuse of food, cigarettes, sex, tv as the exact same thing – just a different coping mechanism. You choose a different tool but it’s really all from the same place,isn’t it? We’re running from it and to it at the same time, because it’s familiar, it’s what we know.
We are trying to desperately to fit into a world in which sometimes we just don’t belong. When you’re ready to let go, you’ll find, more easily, the world in which you do fit, perfectly and so well blended you’ll wonder why it took you so long. We stay in careers we hate, we stay in relationships and friendships we hate because too often the devil we know is better than the one we don’t. We tolerate bullshit, abuse, manipulation, lies from people. We become doormats and the strongest and angriest of personalities win. We teach people how to treat us and most times it can be traced back to our learned behaviours – how we processed our environment – what we should and shouldn’t do to stay in the good graces – to be the good boy or girl, to be the people pleaser, to make everything right, make everyone happy, most often at a cost of our own happiness.
There’s no need to wonder why we’re an anxiety riddled society using anything and everything as an escape mechanism because we’re too afraid to escape in reality.
I’m not suggesting to walk around with a billboard with your past experiences out there for everyone to see because that’s not a solution either. Because too often we use the stories of the past to allow us to stay stuck… this happened, that happened… staying stuck in the story isn’t helpful. Why does it bother us so much when we see injustice? Perhaps because we’ve experienced it ourselves. Why does it bother us so much when we turn a blind eye? Perhaps because we know the difference and we know deep down we’re just too scared to act – why? Because we’ll be the trouble maker, the squeaky one…
Have you considered though, that the reason it bothers you so much, deep down, that voice that you’re trying to kill with cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, food, sex, tv, movies, gossip, partying is the voice that is guiding you to step up to create change for those people and the world. How can YOU be the only one who seems to have a problem with it? How can you be the complete black sheep of the family, driven by a moral compass that no one else seems to have? Perhaps your purpose is to be the voice that speaks up to educate and teach people about what’s acceptable. Silence condones their behaviour. Maybe your “soul” purpose in life is to the one who stands up against it? The one who says, this isn’t ok, the one who is willing to be different, not fit in, take a few arrows. Maybe it’s an opportunity for them to create the change they so badly need, a chance to change the world because one more person had the courage to stand up and say “this is not ok, I won’t tolerate this”.
I have been fortunate to spend the last decade with people who have opened to me… the examples I used above are not my life… they are a sample of the people I’ve met along the way who shared some of themselves with me, courageously. One in particular shared the message of how his father beat him until he bled. As an adult he had to come terms with it, now a father himself, he couldn’t understand how he could have done it. He hated his father his whole life. But had also become the ultimate people pleaser, doing everything he could to make people happy, at a cost of his own dreams and happiness. On his healing journey, he came to realize that physical abuse was rampant in his family history… his father was only doing what he knew to do because he never had the opportunity to speak up, to get help, not in his generation. And he realized he was the generation that would stop it… the generation that would end the generations of abuse. And he was grateful for that… for knowing that he sought healing so that he wouldn’t do that.
It was a beautiful experience for me because I realized gratitude isn’t about being grateful when everything is going right, it’s also about gratitude in the worst of experiences. It also made me think… maybe we are the generation who is here to change the world – it’s a revolution… like all the ones in history… the ones where we change the course of humanity because we refuse to tolerate suppression and oppression any longer. We refuse to bear the shame that is inflected by what we should and shouldn’t do, say, wear, be. Perhaps, the reason you are different and don’t fit in is to be that person in your family – the one who can stand up against cruelty and abuse and oppression. Perhaps you were never meant to fit in but you meant to lead them to something greater? What are the things you’ve experienced in your life that caused you enormous pain that you can find something to be grateful for in? How can it lead your growth instead of your demise? How can it propel you forward instead keeping you stuck somewhere you don’t belong?
The truth really does heal. It’s healed me in ways I couldn’t imagine. I stopped glossing over the shitty stuff and I stopped punishing myself for the choices others make and the choices I made. I stopped putting myself last. I stopped being steamrolled, railroaded and manipulated. I simply stopped living in fear of being rejected from places I simply don’t fit. When I stopped trying to fit in, I found my tribe… the ones who fully and wholly accept me as I am… the ones I can be myself with, the ones I can tell any of my darkest and deepest secrets to, but also share my wildest dreams and they get it. They don’t try to tear me down… they try to lift me up, higher. They don’t want me to conform, they want to see me be myself. They are drawn to my authenticity and truth and I am drawn to theirs. Pretenders don’t like the truth, it makes them uncomfortable. I know because I used to be one.
Fuck fitting into a world I don’t fit.
Fuck carrying the shame and guilt of others choices – its theirs to carry or unload – the choice is theirs alone, not yours.
Fuck carrying the shame of the choices I’ve made, the bad decisions, the drugs, the alcohol, the sex, the guilt, the fear…
Fuck the pretend world full of perfect people and masks. It’s all bullshit.
I like people who are real and will be real with me. Who will apologize for their mistakes, who will ask for forgiveness, who will genuinely try to do better next time, not just say they will so you’ll forgive them when you both know they don’t mean it. I like people who mean it.
My life is about courage and love. Realizing people are doing the best they can with the tools they have. It’s about forgiving them and not taking it personally, it’s about walking away from things, people, places when they aren’t good for you, it’s about speaking your truth, even if you offend someone, it’s about speaking up against injustice, no matter who those people are – even if it’s your mother, husband, wife, sister, brother… because the mark on your own soul isn’t worth protecting them. And you rob them of the chance to grow and learn. It’s about allowing and moving forward and growth and fun and happiness and being real.
Don’t worry about what will happen if you speak the truth, worry about what will happen to you if you don’t speak the truth.