How honest is too honest?
I’ve been documenting my life via diary for as long as I can remember. Tucked away safely in storage I have an envelope full of spiral bound notebook diaries that I kept from 13 to 20 or so. Daily dispatches from Plant City Florida where I grew up; angst so thick that Morrissey would be impressed. I always felt so out of place there- which in hindsight is ironic. We had a thriving Body Modification scene- with Jack Yount at the forefront there was a nodal point for folks interested in surgical and advanced body modification that has never really been duplicated. We had an amazing music scene; nightly options ranging from Ska to Death Metal at so many different venues that you couldn’t keep up with local and touring acts. . Cindy Wheeler had the Three Birds Bookstore that provided an outlet for the zine scene, Hardy Marks tattoo books and weird occult books and arty pornography. We had so many more options than I have in Philadelphia 20 years later, but there was still that feeling of being on the outside that so many of my friends have experienced.
So I wrote.
Sometimes it was just a record of my day. Other times they were long and hopefully eloquent diatribes that, while never shared with anyone, would have no doubt impressed the hell out of the sensitive reader I always imagined peeking over my shoulder.
But moving to Philadelphia emboldened me. It’s not that I found a community that I finally fit into; more that I finally became comfortable with who I was. I came ‘out’. In so many contexts. I worked in jobs where, within reason, I was able to be me. But the good came with the bad. That confidence and boldness reinforced negative traits; castoffs from someone who was already pretty self deprecating and had a lot of baggage but who put on a great game face when needed.
I’m not really sure when I became so sure of myself that I closed myself off to personal growth, but there was a period not too long ago where I really didn’t like myself. Overcompensation. I became someone I wasn’t really proud of. Over time and loved ones lost, I started seeing how the ramifications of my actions played out. People I cared about didn’t stick around. When my ex Diana and I split up, it was the wakeup call if I wanted to end up a happy person, I had to make some changes in my life.
And I did.
I changed a lot. Some of it was driven by a fear of being alone, for sure. Other changes were made because I knew they were the right thing to do. By the time I met my most current ex, I was so proud of the changes I had made in myself that I forgot that change, that personal evolution, was a constant process not something that you just ‘stop’ doing when you feel better about yourself.
I still don’t know why our relationship ended. Just that we had an argument and the next thing I know it was over. I spent a few weeks blaming myself, and a few more blaming her and none of it really matters now. I’m finally able to clearly look at our relationship as a whole- not just the breakup but the previous four years as well, objectively. As the intense emotion over the breakup dissipates, I’m able to see the changes that I needed to make but didn’t that may have helped save the relationship. That’s never an easy past time, hindsight, but it’s certainly helped give me perspective that was much needed. I’m not saying that I’m 100% responsible for the problems that we had, just that I was 100% responsible for the problems that I had and at the time was too obtuse to fix them.
I think all of this was spawned by therapy yesterday, a great chat with my friends Rob and Dan and a surprisingly enlightening chat with a drunk woman that I cared after at the bar while she sobered up. But most importantly I had a long (think hour and a half- which for my telephonophobia is impressive) phone call with a friend after work where we discussed things that are going on in our lives- and our friendship that could have ended up with things getting really tense.
Instead we talked.
We said goodnight smiling. Issues (good or bad) don’t resolve themselves overnight. But it was damned nice to be on the same page with someone without ambiguity or just wondering where the other one’s head/heart is at and being graceful enough to know that sometimes even easy things are complicated but that doesn’t mean they can’t be worked on and dealt with.
My life has changed so much that I don’t even recognize myself anymore. And I’m shocked to realize that I’m ok with that. With not having a solid mental image after years of thinking I knew who I was and having to figure out from the ground up who I want to be.
So how much honesty?
I’m not sure. So far keeping this diary has been a really great help to me. After all of those years of keeping journals, then my IAM diary over at BME… it was strange for me not to be putting everything down. This is just the most public format that I’ve ever shared things on. I make no attempts to hide who I am; I’m out there with my full name, where I live, where I work. I mention my friends by name and invariably there are going to be things I want to put out there that are uncomfortable or unflattering. There’s something narcissistic about keeping so public a diary- I could just as easily keep these on my hard drive, digital versions of the old hard copy journals, but I want people to read them. For feedback, or encouragement or whatever.
I guess I’ll just keep writing and see where it goes?
Photo: Holy Mountain in our new inhouse movie theater!