I was talking to my dad on the phone tonight. We talk pretty regularly. Probably not as often as we should, but that’s the cost of living more than twenty hours by car away from one another. As always, my dad was wise and full of advice. We talked about health. We talked about work. We talked about George Takei and William Shatner. We talked about my impending trip out to Montana. As always, we talked about my writing.
My dad is my both my biggest cheerleader and my biggest task master. He always has encouragement when it’s needed, and a kick in the ass when that’s the better motivation. He knows me better than I know myself and has insights that I’m not quick enough to make on my own. He’s a teacher at heart, and has a way of guiding me to a conclusion that I should have seen forever ago. He sure as hell saw it.
It was during the phone call with my father that I admitted to him, and myself, that I was holding myself back as a writer. I recognized what it was a long time ago, but ignored it. I let that little wound in my mind fester and boil, and before I knew it, I was actively killing off that part of me.
You see, I’m afraid, honestly, of being me.
I’ve struggled with it for a while. Recently, I’ve decided to work towards getting past it. I did a doodle that used the word “penis.” I wrote about blue humor and my fear of upsetting my mother.
You know what didn’t happen?
My mother, as frail and proper as my mental image of her is, did not suddenly explode from the shame of me making a dick joke.
My family did not get cast into stockades as a result of the shame I placed upon them.
Granted, that particular post didn’t get the kind of response I expected. I’m not sure what I expected. I guess some part of me thought I would hear the laughter of a million voices bellowing across the plains. I’m not sure. Maybe my particular brand of humor is more subtle.
What do I know?
I just make up words for the internet.
I feel a bit like that collar I’d placed on myself is loosening. I’ve read a lot of great work from guys like David Sedaris, Justin Halpern, and Jonathan Ames.1 These are guys that aren’t really afraid to admit to the things they’ve done in life. They’re not afraid to admit to who they are. I admire them. I respect them. I want to write like them. I want to tell the stories that I’m afraid to tell.
I think, now that I’ve recognized exactly what it is I’m afraid of, I can face it. I can move past my worry that someone will read what I am and think, “You horrible monster! How could you do that?”
That is one of the reasons I take part in the Scintilla Project. It asks us to expose ourselves to the world, hopefully in a way that doesn’t get us put on a list that keeps us from living within 3 miles of an Elementary School. It asks us to take off our masks. I’m glad to see it growing year after year. I’m proud I am a part of that.
I think, at the core of everything I do, I am looking for acceptance and redemption. I think, in many ways, we all are.
When I was reading (well, admittedly listening) to the books by David Sedaris and Jonathan Ames, I found that I felt comforted by their stories. I felt invigorated and empowered by their lives. Honestly, I don’t have a lot in common with either man, but their stories made me feel like I was okay. I guess I want to do that for other people, too.
If the only way to do that is to take off the armor and just let myself be exposed to the world, I will.
I hope that those of you reading this will enjoy that. If not, now is your chance to comment and say, “NO MATT! NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT!”
If you do want to see that, stick around. I’m planning on bleeding on the screen for you in the days to come.
You probably won’t be disappointed.
My blood is 95% chocolate.
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