I saw the documentary, Wish Me Away, a few weeks ago at Outfest and have been using Chely Wright’s story as inspiration to tell my own story in great detail (more on that in the coming weeks). Something I’ve come to realize as I move through this process, is that we’re all damn liars; some of us are just better at hiding it from ourselves than others.
Does anybody really know you?
Can anybody say they truly do?
You swear that you’re a hickory tree but
Your limbs are loaded down with rotten fruit
You gotta keep on spinnin’ around
Never let your worlds collide
‘Cause if we all start talkin’ there might be nowhere for you to hide
You’re a damn liar
A damn liar
A damn liar
How’d you make it this far
Being a, a damn liar
You damn liar
A damn liar
That’s what you are
~ Chely Wright, Damn Liar (Lifted Off the Ground, 2010)
The Stories I Tell (are not all lies)
I’ve told so many parts of my story, it’s hard to keep track of all the stories I tell. There’s the one about being shy. The one about being scolded. The one about being molested. The one about coming out. The other one about coming out. The other other one about coming out. The one about being orphaned. The one about falling apart. The one about pulling myself back together. Only to fall apart again.
There are too many stories of my life to keep track of them all in my head, so I write them down. Sometimes the stories make sense and I can remember what happened, clear as my dog’s bark at 2am. Other times I get frustrated with myself for the details making themselves up along the way, but I convince myself: some form of the truth is in there somewhere.
Damn liars. All of us.
When I look at the whole picture, I see so many different Dians converging, making up this whole person tapping away at the keyboard this morning, all her stories in tact. The Dian who was shy (and suppressed by an overprotective mother). The Dian who was angry (at the loss of that mother, the love of her life, at sixteen). The Dian who was determined (to break the cycle). The Dian who was scared (to reveal the Dian beneath the layers). The Dian beneath the layers. The Dian who is gay. The Dian who is proud. The Dian who is ashamed. The Dian who is strong. The Dian who is weak. The Dian who was left behind. The Dian who remains. The Dian who continues to evolve. The many Dians are all me. When I tell the story of one of these Dians, it feels like all the other Dians are liars. And these other Dians point their fingers back with a glaring banner in the mirror: Liar, liar pants on fire.
Many of those past Dians tried to be someone she wasn’t. A shy Dian, trying to be popular. A molested Dian, trying to be normal. A gay Dian, trying to be straight. A hidden Dian, trying to be seen. A weak Dian, trying to be strong. A scared Dian, trying to be brave.
Sometimes—like today—my entire past feels like a string of lies woven together to make up the story I am today. A damn lie. Me, a damn liar.
The thing is—there’s always a thing—we’re all damn liars. We’re hard wired to make shit up. Maybe even, to use it to create our truth. Truths like:
Today’s Lies, Tomorrows Truths
I am strong. I feel great. I love who I am. I will not be broken. I am okay, even if you don’t see how. I am an evolution of everything that’s gone right in my life. I am whole. I am worth it—whatever it is.
The lies of today make up tomorrow’s truths.
And so it is.
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