How to Be…Truthful.
by Lindsay Timmington
I’ve had this draft open on my computer for over a week. It’s lived in my head for weeks. Until tonight, I could never quite bring myself to finish it, to hit the publish key and send it out into the world.
I write knowing that it’ll upset some of my family and friends. I write knowing there may be people in my life who disappear as a result. I write it knowing there will be people who disagree with me and my decisions, who will criticize and judge me.
But I write anyway.
I have to.
One of my goals in beginning this blog, in dredging up stories from my past, is to be entirely truthful in my writing. Even when it’s embarrassing and terrifying. No more half-truths and protective shields, no more covering up. Nothing but an honest look at where I’ve been, how I’ve been and who I’ve been.
So here’s my truth.
Back in December I submitted an article to the online magazine, “Elephant Journal.” As it was the first thing I’d ever submitted for publication I held little hope that it’d be selected.
But it was.
I was ecstatic. After reading the email from the editor, I held my phone in my hand and frantically thought about who to call first. My best friend. My parents. My aunt and uncle. My siblings. I shook my head at every thought. I didn’t want to call anyone. The piece I’d written was one of the most honest, revealing things I’d ever done and it terrified me a little bit to think about how people in my life would react. I knew very well as I wrote and submitted the article that there was always a chance it could be chosen but I highly doubted it. I didn’t think I’d need to worry about it going public. And suddenly it was.
In bed that night, reading “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamont I came across this:
We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in. Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words—Truth or reality, or whatever you want to call it is the bedrock of life…It’s wonderful to watch someone finally open that forbidden door that has kept him or her away. What gets exposed is not people’s baseness but their humanity. It turns out that the truth, or reality, is our home. But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while—then we will be able to speak in our own voice and stay in the present moment. And that moment is home.
This story is one of my hidden rooms. Kept hidden for three years. Some people know details, some have guessed and still others remain completely unaware. I’ve toiled with how to tell my truth, my story but in writing this article I began to find my voice, to open the door to my room.
I did finally call people. I told them my news and then asked what I should do. Asked who I should tell. If should share. I count myself incredibly lucky for the friends and family I have and who offered counsel and advice, support, encouragement and kudos.
But you know what? I shouldn’t have asked. Because the minute I did, I doubted myself. I doubted my ability to make a decision about my life, about something that truly only affected me and I allowed others the opportunity to weigh in on a decision that was mine alone. Their voices became scrambled with mine and I couldn’t hear myself, couldn’t find the truth that I’d started to stand in. Before I knew it, I had pulled the door to my room shut and was ready to lock it and walk away.
I made the decision to only share the article with a handful of people. And now, some three weeks later I’ve changed my mind.
I open the door. I face the truth. I tell my story.