I have been a liar.
I can chalk it up to those things in my past, my childhood, or for any number of valid reasons. The person I’ve been lying to all this time has been myself. It struck me the other day when I mentioned my favourite colour about how much I lie to myself.
So odd that I would lie to the world and myself what my favourite colour is. Come walk with me down into memory. She was a little four-year-old girl, pampered, dressed and styled according to her mother’s desires. She was a living baby doll. And on a magical day, she was allowed a choice. Oh, what magic to be given a choice, a say in things to be! Lavender, she adored the colour lavender above any others. Thus her bedroom was painted lavender.
Happiness flowed all around her, her room, her colour, her choice! Yet under the surface of things, of family lurked deep unhappiness. Her colour, her choice was hated and thus removed. And her parents worked to erase her choice, her happiness, even she had to work to cover it. The white of paint struggled to cover the brilliance of her beloved lavender. Little ears took in the grumbles and complaints and learned a strange lesson that day. Her desires would be for nought. So much white paint used to cover, to erase a pleasure, a joy that was hers and hers alone. The want’s that what escaped that white day defeated those who lacked understanding. Lavender splotches peaked at the edges of the room, like her soul, diminished yet undefeated. It was a comfort to see even the bits that peaked and escaped the drowning of white.
This lesson would not have been enough to be set in stone if there had not been so many others before and after. Your desires mean nothing. Your choices mean nothing. What you want means nothing. Each one hammered home again and again.
The ingeniousness of childhood protects the core budding personality against occasional harm that parenthood brings to it. Yet when the child is an extension of the parent, not only does the child absorb the parents hurts, they have to buffer their own core in hope of a day they can bloom. I have no measure of how well I succeed in this task. Let me tell you another story.
Pigtailed seven year old who loved words and worlds only found between the pages ran up to her mother a late spring evening. In her hands, her pride, her joy, her accomplishment; a written story. Beaming with joy she hands it to her mother and begs her to read it. As she watched her mother’s eyes float across the pages of work, sudden horror dawned in her mind. As the frown marred her mother’s face, she took back the pages from her mother’s hand. No questions were needed. She realised this joy trespassed on a rule. Quickly moving away as her shoulders slumped, grateful her mother said nothing. Passing by a trashcan, she let drop from her fingertips the first bits of her soul.
See, the rule broke here was fiction. I had written a story, a work of fiction. Just a year earlier, all books of fiction were removed from the house. There was no television. Radio was set only for gospel stations. What books that remained were those considered to be true, truth and religiously approved materials. And I had failed to include my own self in what was not allowed. It still puzzles me, how could the things I write be anything but truth?
In my defiance, I found a way to nurture my soul. With a teacher’s encouragement, I focused on poetry. Though poetry I could write and dance with words. With poetry, I could express my soul. As long as I was careful, I could write as I desired. My words had to be true, not something one sees as fiction. Poetry has been a wellspring, a lifeline and a much-needed love in my life.
I have many more soul damaged tales. The point is, I was taught from an early age that what I want, that my joys have no value. And nothing but religion and god was put in front of me instead. I was taught to sacrifice everything that made me, me, to that goal. These ideas, these lessons left a wake of damage across my life.
I know now children raised by damaged adults end up needing to unravel not only their damage but their parent’s damage as well. My mother’s damage was deep and she didn’t make it out of the hole that it left in her. But she knew enough that sometimes saying nothing was a blessing in disguise.
It feels odd now having no reason to lie. It feels odd I have no cause to protect my core as I had before. And it feels good.