Tag Archives: truth telling

Discovering the Secrets We Hide From Ourselves (Or, I’m Turning 45 and It’s Freaking Me Out!)

This is part of an on-going series about secrets, truth-telling, and my boyfriend being in prison. The essays that follow are a raw, open, deliberate look at life lived and liberated. And occasionally just a touch uncensored.

A guy I dated a few years ago took prescription meds to help him sleep and I thought that was a very bad idea. Why? Because by day he was frustrated with his work life, and he would constantly say that he wasn’t “living the dream”.

I told him that knocking himself out with a sleeping pill would forever stop him from figuring out what his dream even is, not to mention getting uncomfortable enough with the status quo to ever go after it.

But guess who was – just a few short weeks ago – sleepless, angst-ridden, and downing over-the-counter sleep aids?

Um, yeah. (Me.)

What the hell was going on?? I asked myself once I remembered what I’d told him.

What’s the message here? What’s the truth of why I’m feeling this way?

All the answers I came up with – the weather, living with my sister in a house that needs a lot of repairs, my man being in prison, having the soul of an artist, but needing to work – seemed to make a basic sort of sense, but not answer the question completely.

That’s the tricky part of dissecting your inner landscape to uncover the truth. Your mind will interrupt your search with all sorts of fancy, reasonable-seeming ideas.

Oh, it’s just been cloudy for a long time. Of course you’re feeling this way, it’s hard to live with other people. All artists struggle with everyday life, this is actually a badge of honor that you feel this way! Your boyfriend’s in prison (gasp!) of course you’re feeling wobbly.

But one strange truth I found out many months ago is that I secretly sometimes like him being in prison. He’s away, but he’s here, if you get what I mean. Being alone, but with someone is a very different feeling than all those years of wondering if true love was ever going to come my way.

So, privately, a part of me has been relishing my alone time, sleeping with the shades up so I can see the stars, with no one snoring beside me.

Not having to pay attention to anyone but myself.

And what about those sunny days when I’m cranky and miserable?

Yeah, exactly.

There was another message under all the obvious ones. In fact, there is always a deeper voice trying to come through, but it’s almost always going to clash with your ideas about things.

So I kept seeking, uncovering new layers – like, Oh, I really need to be asleep by 10 p.m. to feel rested in the morning! And following my soul desires to sit in the woods or read novels in bed in the morning.

Which is what led me to realize, as I opened the third book in week where the main female character was wrestling with her dawning middle age, that, Wait a damn second, there’s something here for me.

Because I chose those books at the library. I don’t remember choosing books with the theme of middle age, not consciously at any rate. But there it was, last night, staring me straight in the face.

I’m turning 45 this summer. And it’s freaking me out a little bit.

I feel terrific, my life is interesting, I’m involved in work that’s of my own design. And nobody even thinks I’m the age that I am, including me. So it wasn’t that obvious.

But it’s something that my subconscious has been dealing with, unbeknownst to my thinking mind.

It was like being struck by lightening, when this realization hit me where I sat propped up in bed, under a yellow striped comforter, with the lamp lit and dogs barking in the distant countryside.

I woke up to this truth very all of a sudden.

It made me think about a play I saw in the East Village years ago, where there was a voiceover that played throughout, saying, Wake up. Wake up.

I suddenly woke up to the truth of what is really going on with me.

Turning 45 means dreaming new dreams. It means saying good-bye to old dreams. Or turning and grabbing on hard to those near-dying dreams and trying to bring them back to life.

Am I wanting a baby? Could I even have a baby at this point? I’ve been pregnant twice, do I really not regret those abortions? What about those dreams of speaking foreign languages? Should I have done more with that? What about those manuscripts I’ve been carting around for decades, but never published?

Is it too late? Do I even care?

All the crossroads of my life kept swimming into view, as I imagined taking a different path, choosing something different.

And I realized that doing this work – this heart-pounding, doubt-inducing, emotional, ambivalent, unsettling inner seeking – is the hallmark of change. It’s how the bell is rung, signaling the advent of a new chapter.

It’s not pleasant, and it’s not pretty and it’s definitely not clear … but somehow knowing what the truth is of what I’m dealing with is galvanizing. It’s relieving to understand what the hell is actually going on here.

And with that knowledge came a lifting of my grubby mood, because it had done its work and gotten my attention.

In fact, just now, as I walked down the stairs to make myself a late morning cup of coffee I heard my mind say, “Life is good!”

So where in your life are you uncomfortable? Angry? Sad? Mournful? Hungry for more?

Sink into it. Excavate the layers for the deepest, most hidden meaning.

We tend to be scared of the truth before we let ourselves see it. But once you allow yourself access to what you don’t even know that you know, it’s pure freedom. And that always feels really, really good.

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Want more freedom from your dark secrets & access to your juicy hidden depths?

The courage to get bold with yourself and others in truth-telling?

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Juicy Secrets, Dark Secrets & the Sweet Freedom of Fierce Truth-Telling (Even When You’re Scared As Hell!)

Wednesday, June 21st

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When You Feel Like Screaming, But You’re Not Alone

This is an on-going series about secrets, truth-telling, and my boyfriend being in prison. The essays that follow are a raw, open, deliberate look at life lived and liberated. And just a touch uncensored.

When I moved out of New York City a few years ago I shared a house with two women. The slightly depressed homeowner did business via speaker phone from the couch with the television on, which was also where she tended to fall asleep — but she also socialized a fair amount, so she was out and about daily. Not great, but workable.

The other housemate was a transgender gamer who spent all her time in her room. She put black plastic over the windows and kept her own hours. She also OD’d and collapsed on the landing outside my room, foaming at the mouth, and I got to call 911 and handle the paramedics and calling her parents.

She never left the house except for a random couple of hours once or twice a week (and, of course, those few days in the hospital, please forgive me for being grateful about my alone time).

Because in those rare times they were both gone, I would start screaming into my pillow, give myself a loud orgasm, and then burst into sobs.

All I wanted was to be able to do that anytime I needed to.

And I needed to a lot.

My dad had just died, and the man I’d thought I was going to be with forever ditched me so he could keep drinking without interruption. I’d just moved to a new town and turned 40. Oh, and I was deciding to give up acting, go back to school, and open up my own coaching practice.

I was unsettled, to say the least. (I was an absolute mess.)

I needed my unfettered screaming, sobbing, writhing around on my bed (or the floor, or shower, wherever the grief and panic hit me) time. At all hours of the day and night.

Can you feel me on this?

Or maybe you’re wondering why you’re walking around, feeling like you’re on the edge of committing acts of violence, hiding in your car to secretly cry in the afternoon before heading home and acting normal. Well, let me be the one to tell you.

We’re not meant to live on company behavior. We’re not meant to act “normal” and “play well with others” at all times.

We’re souls living out a mission here on earth, and that mission means being in touch with the deepest parts of yourself, both human and other-worldly. Because you’re a flesh and bone human being, yes, but you’re also stardust come to life.

That is not an easy ride.

Society will tell you otherwise, sure. You’ll get told you’re “too much” or “sensitive” or “intense” or “different” if you feel strongly. You bet you are.

Because if you’re feeling anything like this – like you’re keeping a piece of your true self at bay because you’re pretty sure it’s not a socially acceptable part – you’re not alone.

In fact, you are called. You are called to access and admit to the existence of that soul part of your being, to bring it out into the light, and to give other people permission to do the same.

Don’t you ever wonder why so many of us binge and purge? Get wasted week after week? Numb out and stay in dead end jobs and listless relationships? Feel like screaming??

(Oh, did you think you were the only one? Haha! No. It’s everyone. Everyone who’s called, that is.)

And it’s because even when our lives look good on the outside, for those of us who are currently being asked to answer this soul call, there’s a yearning for more.

More wildness. More freedom of expression. The permission to dance – fuck that, to live! – like no one is watching. (And judging and ready to condemn us as crazy.)

That’s why living with other people can be so unbelievably awful. We’re programmed to do everything exactly as if we’re being watched all the time. And if you don’t have alone time (or if you haven’t yet granted yourself permission to let it all hang out when you are alone), you can start to get very pent up.

My boyfriend is currently in prison, and every single letter we write gets read by someone. Our phone conversations are listened to, and every couple of minutes a recording comes on that says, “This is a call from a federal prison,” in an unnaturally calm automated female voice.

I can’t even imagine what it feels like to be on the inside, because just my few experiences of visiting and being watched, assessed as a risk, frisked and controlled, have made me want to find a cave in the forest I can live out the rest of my life in.

So, how to be your socially unacceptable, soul-aligned self and still have friends and loved ones? And not have anybody call the cops so you have to live in total lock-down because the world calls you crazy?

You can head to the woods and let loose there.

You can wait for everybody to leave the house.

You can tell the people you live with that you’ll be letting it all hang out in your room, and not to worry, you’ll be fine in a minute. (Wouldn’t that be so liberating?? To be able to live with people who were cool with you sobbing hysterically, then, when you were done, laughing over hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen?)

Other than solitude, I believe that would be the best option. But it’s not for everybody. And I’m not doing it in my current situation, I admit it, but, boy, does it sound better than holding it all in, amirite?

But it would take making sure you were living with the right people. Everyone thinks that truth-telling is about being indiscriminately honest all the time. It’s not. It’s about being discerning. And kind. And honoring yourself. All at the same time.

A friend of mine told me that the first time he watched his new girlfriend do just that – take a moment to honor her need for emotional release and to howl and cry – he felt something inside him lift up and get set free. Just by witnessing her release.

But, what about the neighbors?

Well, there’s my friend who, in the throes of a very hard break-up, started doing what he called “car-tharsis”. He’d drive his car somewhere remote and let himself go.

Because that’s what all this desire to scream, and cry and get it all out is for – catharsis. (Or if you’re only able to find your sacred solitude in your car … you get the picture.)

Catharsis very very good. In fact, if you’re feeling any urge to find release, it become downright necessary. Sure, it looks scary and ugly and unpredictable, but when done right you come out the other side lighter and closer to God. Healed.

And better able to follow through on your soul mission, which is exactly what you’re here for.

They Told Me Not to Tell But I Am Anyway (The Secret Freedom of Fierce Truth-Telling)

This is the first in an on-going series about secrets, truth-telling, and my boyfriend being in prison. The essays that follow are a raw, open, deliberate look at life lived and liberated. And just a touch uncensored.

I remember the first time I was told to keep a secret. My mom said there were some things you don’t share outside the house. In this case I had announced at the local general store that my parents were fighting. I was three years old.

I kept a lot of secrets after that. Secrets about my neighbor’s stepfather performing oral sex on us. We were four years old. Secrets about my best friend’s father sneaking into the den where we slept and fingering us. My favorite live-in “uncle” holding me on his lap while he had an erection. When I spoke to him about it many years later he told me, “You were a very provocative five year old.”

I made sure not to tell anyone.

I felt disgust growing inside of me, a plague for one. My body held onto all those secrets and turned them against me. When I was twelve, I lied about having a boyfriend at summer camp, so I could feel worthy. Because something always felt terribly wrong with me and I was desperate to hide it.

I talked a lot to deflect attention away from that feeling of wrongness. I ate too fast and too much, in an attempt to bury the secrets and the lies. And I threw it all up again so I could feel light and free.

But the disgust always returned. Because I kept the secrets. Even from myself I kept the secrets, and I replaced my knowledge with the belief that there was something wrong with me instead.

And then I got tired. It took a lot of years, but finally I couldn’t hold down the secrets anymore. And I started telling all of them. To everybody. To myself.

And I discovered something amazing.

When you tell the truth, you feel better.

So I don’t keep secrets anymore.

That’s why I tell everyone I meet that my boyfriend is in prison. I just announce it everywhere I go. To the guy helping me choose the right jumper cables at the local tractor supply store, I tell him I’m happy he’s here to help me because my boyfriend’s in prison. To the young teller at the bank when she asks if I live with my boyfriend, I say, No, I don’t, because he’s in prison.

I tell them the whole story if they’re interested, and I have every intention of telling the whole story publicly at some point. Not today, because I’m not ready yet, and we’re right in the middle of it, and because I don’t feel entirely safe sharing the details openly when there are legal proceedings happening.

And that’s part of the process of becoming a fierce truth-teller – being patient with yourself, letting things unfold, noticing new truths as they surface. Allowing the flow of truth to happen, and being loving with the parts of you that are scared.

And finding people who are guardians of the truth to support you. That’s hugely important.

My boyfriend would be fine with me sharing it all openly.

“Tell everybody anything you want!” That’s what he says.

If I had to name one reason I am crazy about this man it wouldn’t be his flashing blue eyes or unbelievable confidence. His ability to build beautiful things by hand. Or even his hunky biceps and the way he says things to me like, “If you were a flower, every petal would be a different color.” No, it would be his unflinching honesty and directness. The idea that I’ve finally met someone who loves to tell the truth as much as I do is the biggest relief I’ve ever known.

“I can’t do it anymore,” he says when I ask him why he’s so direct. He says he startles a lot of people (I know the feeling), but he just got tired of pretending, and doesn’t have the time to waste anymore.

Exactly.

I don’t have the time to waste anymore either. On lying to myself or making myself look a certain way to outsiders. On overeating and purging in an attempt to feel ok.

Because what happens when you start to tell the truth is that you clear out all those old lies you’ve been dragging everywhere with you. Lies that tell you you’re not good enough. That you’ll never get it right. That what other people think about you is more important than what you believe about yourself.

Once you start telling the truth, all those lies disappear. And you’re left clean, right down through your center. You have an open heart. Your bones and teeth and blood sing with the lightness and freedom of truth, instead of being clogged with pretending.

And you become a clear channel for the voice of God. You finally get to claim your birthright as a beloved child of the universe. (That’s the biggest truth of all.)

So what’s a secret you’ve been refusing to tell? Admit it right now, inside yourself. Then find somebody to tell. If they panic at your truth-telling or put a disgust vibe all over it, tell someone else. Move on!

People who insist on secret-keeping still believe in shame. They believe that what other people think is more important than anything else.

But you can believe differently. And you can always tell me.

Because you don’t have any time to waste.