Sunday, November 27, 2016

Be honest with yourself

Put aside all of the masks for a moment. Who is down there?

I try to figure out when I stopped being afraid of you, and I see that it's when all of us were here in the room that I stopped. I remember seeing the White Cat sitting up on the ledge watching me, and Colleen was sitting on the couch, and the Black Dragon was spreading out his wings to protect us, and yet the Radiant Star didn't need anything of the sort, and you, you were in there, falling behind me into the darkness just behind me, inside me. You are not the Star, but the powers are so similar. You are not me, but you are me, and I know I'm not you, but I also know you are inside me in a way that I cannot ever extricate myself from you. You are both my shadow and my destiny, and I know your name, because you are me, even though we both always doubt one another's existence when we see each other in the mirror.

I don't know when this happened, when I learned about you, and him, and how the two of you are in here with me, so that I am not ever alone any more, if I ever were. I never stopped talking to myself. I just talked inside with you, and we flip inside and outside like so many skins. Like printing on both sides of the paper, you say, to save money and trees. Like loading up a missile with multiple nuclear warheads, they say, to save lives and avoid all-out-destruction. Many for the price of one; polymorphous because I had no one to talk to but you.

Abbey said, in the usual uncanny truthful way she says these things, that you were amusing yourself. And you, you smiled through me that blew your cover, and I knew, and you knew I knew, and so now we both know about each other, even though we cannot decide which of us is the right one, the hidden one, or the desired one. You come and go, and I am left here to stand there embarrassed, so I go and come, and you're in there saying things I didn't know how to say. I try so hard, so hard, to say the right thing that holds together all the truths across all the many layers and interpretations of meaning, because I think truth is important, even if truth is confusing when you forget the frame references. But then I realize you already chose the words to hide what you mean and mean what you kept hidden. So it's no wonder you are both understating things and overloading meanings. Maybe you really are amusing yourself, and occasionally others, but it's all so very cryptic, isn't it?

I know why you are so afraid of me. I've had to find the words so many times, you think I have the better diplomacy. They listen to me, but they want to know you, and you, you want to know everyone. You walk up to so many people and talk to them before I ever have the chance. You see the ones who have the world lines following them, you see the ones who have the genius, you see the quiet ones who share your existence, and you are already bringing them to us, to me, to play. But I don't know what to say, how to be a friend, how to be normal and real and honest, when I have to wear so many masks just to get outside.

Or maybe you're not afraid of me at all. Maybe you're just lazy?

She asked us what was on our mind, what we were thinking, and she's very observant. She knew what you were thinking, because you probably already knew what she was thinking, and you're very observant, too. But what came first? Who spoke to whom? Meanwhile, I was trying to mind my own business and stay the course and be a friend, while also balancing the inward tensions of a spirited horse and a calculating tongue and a soul embodied in flesh. But you are none of those things, and you are all of those things, because you are the me I will never see, and the me I cannot control, and the me who wants to be himself, to make the mistakes worth making to have the lessons worth keeping. We are working on different problems, aren't we? I am proud you were as patient as you were, learning something about your own ability to keep me in the dark even when I think what I'm doing is keeping you in the dark, hidden inside, so that I can focus on listening to her, not realizing how you reach out to others through my own suppression.

I had, for so long, thought of you as something subconscious, subterranean, subcutaneous. A lizard-like thing having no mind, no awareness, just a collection of fantasies and stolen illusions, things I smuggled off my parent's bookshelf and from their hidden collection of paperback trash, and then there's all those bizarre stories of mind control experiments found in harmless children's programming. Cartoons didn't just sell us toys, but stories, after all. You became me, and I became you, when we had no one else to make sense of the arrangement, how to get through the long lonely afternoons with no else to play with. You used to have such violent outbursts, until I started to really get violent, and then I turned the violence against myself, or maybe you turned it on me, to show me how real you are, to carry through on all the stupid threats my childhood bullies left inside us both like time bombs. So when you exploded inside me and tore through all the youthful masks I've kept around to pretend I never grew up, it hurt like hell and I died.

But now here we are. They're all watching and listening, but more and more the frustration sets in for people too far outside the Circle. I cannot tell when you've switched into me, but you know, and you know how to let me know, and I always find out too late, unless I give in to embarrassment, only to find out I'm not so embarrassed with how much an adult you've become, when you're still just a kid, too. Please help them out, help me out. We are growing every day, and you moreso, because you had so much time to watch me hobble so long doing The Right Thing.

Come out and play more often. We'll find you friends and people who understand you. I'm trying. We're all trying. But you are so beautiful and terrifying. They already see you, you know. I don't know what they see, but they see it and they want to help you, admire you, hold you, and help us, in whatever way they can, help us understand one another. The Cat, the Dragon, and the Star are our guides, friends, selves, and adopt the colors they need to protect, encourage, and direct us, but they only have authority and control over so much, when you and the hidden ones even deeper inside us both—the littlest yin, the smallest yang—have control and authority over all of me. I am becoming more aware of who you are, but you are still my mysterious stranger, conspiring with people I haven't met yet through coded conversations within the people they already are.

We have to come to this riddle of ourselves and start to see each other. I know your wicked smile now. I know where you start and how you pull up at the corners of my mouth and about my eyes. I think I know why you smile.

You make my heart burn when I am near them, and you turn to me and smile that way and wave me on. It is an ocean of great darkness and amazing starlight out there. The water at night inside me is calm, expansive, resonant with the deep earth, drawn upwards by the moon. You look out and see your lovers across any distance and call to them, and they come to me and ask where you are, how I am. I try to have a conversation, but inside you find all their wrinkles, dimples, freckles, wayward hairs, furred corners on business cards; you find tanned skin beneath torn holes, scruffle on an unshaved chin, indie band stickers slapped onto laptop, bright-colored shoes for running, worn bill on an old ball cap, gold crosses on gold chains; you find the details and hand me the meaning. No matter who they are, it is always love in the details. And you wave me on to walk slowly into the cool salt water, and you tell me in that silent language we are learning to speak with one another, that just a bit further, go out a bit further, and I will not drown again.

But I do. I will. You make me drown. You plunged me into that water, as easily and as sure as all the violence we did with each other to each other. Did I drag you out, or did you drag me out? Who took over and drove us to Laurelwood? Who was that?

Lynn told me that it's important to talk to people, and I am talking to more people, about you, about me, about them, about us. Mostly I drop odd clues to public audiences and keep the lunacy for friends, but my therapist is helpful, even if we're not altogether sure we make sense to her. But we have to talk, and it's a strange form of communication, but this works. It helps.

I am sorry, to all of you readers who are not one of us inside this guy, but we want you to know that, in your own way, you are inside us, too. So, the next time you look him in the eye, you might see him, maybe for an instant, maybe for a longer while. Be kind to him. He's still untrusting, unsure, unstable, but he's real. He is someone I'm only just meeting, but he's been there, probably you already know him, known him longer than I have. It's hard to explain, but it makes more and more sense.

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