peeking in or out?

Bottom’s up

There is a certainty to keeping something secret. Once you share it, it can take on a life of it’s own. Better to keep it sealed up, cello-wrapped in opaque plastic—preferably in black, you know, if it’s handy—sterilized and safe.

Um, right?

Does that work? Rather than be sterilized and dormant, secrets usually grow their own deadly bacteria, one that loves that hot, damp, dark environment where you’ve stored it. It becomes diseased. It festers and multiplies. Maybe it is like the half-empty can of cat food that i found on the kitchen counter when i was a child. When I took off the plastic lid, the gray mass vibrated. It undulated and waved, like a slow motion tiny earthquake, teeming with maggots.

Do I have secrets like that? Yes. Yes I do. But mine is not really a secret. It’s something I live everyday, only other people don’t notice. Not an aborted baby or an STD, a failed class or a silly fear. It’s just me. I am the secret. I keep myself from other people, worried that if that poor maggot-fed cat were let out of the bag, they would leave me. They would turn away in disgust, reviled at my arrogant self-hatred. “what could you possibly worry about, you with the lovely house and the tall, handsome husband? It’s not like you have to work…or anything.”

But then I remember. There is no they. The people I worry about leaving are different faces of myself. I am the one chastising and disgusted. I am the one reviled and appalled. I am the one that does not accept my own humanity.

When did I start keeping this secret? It’s been heavy with me as long as I can remember.

Oh, I am so bored with this. This writing about myself. Why can’t I craft a fiction piece? How hard is it to write a fucking short story? Careful, you. It’s been impossible so far, so don’t ask such loaded questions. And what does it say that I cannot get through this fog of self? Is it part of my recovery? Will the veil be lifted when i cross step 12 off my list? Likely, no.

This addiction I mourn is not even my own. This does not bother me much, but still I wonder why my childhood had to go down the drain with the contents of whatever hidden bottles I found around the house. I worry that the anger from that is still coming. That I have been enjoying the empathetic, enlightened calm before the explosive storm. I shouldn’t have to go through this. I should be able to be happy. I should write something other than the same sorry revisions about my family and my own life.

Is this the definition of self-absorption? Or, recovery or not, will that veil simply never lift? Will I be writing this same shit at the rapture?

But maybe my resistance to my story is just one more example of burying that secret. This is what I write. Prepare the chaser. This is who I have been. Close my eyes and tip the can. This is who I can be. And swallow down that squirming gray pile all at once.


patti carlyle

Writer, feminist and activist in Cleveland, Ohio. I curate a collectic blog of quotes, links, images and long form writing. Learn more or find me on Facebook, Twitter, .

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