Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"God has given you one face."
"And you give yourself another."
William Shakespeare

I hear a lot about "being real," about being "your authentic self."  Is it really possible? Maybe it is to a certain point but I'm not sure anyone can be truly real. In my own mind I just don't think its really possible.

I don't think it's realistic to think that anyone can get through this life without their psychological skin being burned at some point. For some, it's a scarring that means major therapy and for others it's the place we start the construction of walls. I don't think I've met anyone who doesn't have some point at which public knowledge ends and privacy begins. 

So what is meant by "being real?" How much of ourselves do we have to show the real world before we're considered fake? If we don't choose to show it all are we living a lie?

I went to my reunion a few weeks ago and after I left I felt like I was living that proverbial lie. I was smiling like everything in my life was fine but nothing could be farther from the truth. Every bone in my body hurt. The car accident and this subsequent illness has wreaked havoc in every way possible; physically, emotionally, spiritually, in my career and financially. Did I want to appear weak and out of control to my former classmates? Not only no, but hell no! So, am I not being real? Do we need to expose our vulnerabilities to be real? Is this I'm okay, you're okay stuff going too far?

Where does being real begin? 
What does it mean?

I know I have walls up. Only my closest friends get past most of them but there are still those that are ingrained so deeply no one will ever pass them.  I do know that one of the deepest has to do with abandonment. I'm equally as sure my adoption has a great deal to do with it. There are pieces to the puzzle of me that only I can fit to make the puzzle whole. I'm not sure I even want to put the puzzle together. What would be the benefit at this point?

So the face we put to the world is the self that we want others to see at face value, so to speak. The rest has to be earned. Chronic pain is the proverbial icing on the cake. Yes, it makes you introspective but it also brings the false face to the forefront. Invisible illness is just that. It is a false face that we present to the world so they don't see the physical pain that lies underneath the surface. Physical pain, emotional pain: pain is pain, no matter how you cut it. 

So what is "knowing our authentic self?" I think that most of us know who we are. We know what brings us pleasure and what brings pain. We might not know what we want to do with that knowledge but that has no bearing on the knowledge. We present to the world that which insulates our psyche. It's not a false self, it's a safe self. We've been conditioned to believe that if we don't bear all we're not being "real" and I don't think that is the case at all. 

I just don't think we have to tell all. 

I think there is such a thing as too much information.


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