Thursday, November 11, 2010

are any of us 'living an authentic life'?

so i totes stole this idea from semi true torystellar at can u relate? because that's how i fucking roll.

but seriously.  it got me thinking.  read her post first so i can skip some of the backstory.

she talks about wearing a mask and not being authentic.  how so many of her friends are within the church and probably wouldn't approve of her real-life activities.  of course, semi true goes further and says they may lay hands on her and cast out her demons.  you might think she's joking.

she's not.

it's not that she's a bad person: she most certainly is not.  she is not a fraud.  she is not evil or wrong or horrible or hateful or mean to small children and furry animals.  she's pretty much awesome:  she drinks vodka, swears more often than she admits, bangs the hell out of her husband, and votes democrat. 

i don't see any problems.  i actually would say she's me, except i take full ownership of my swearing.

but semi true brings up that point:  she isn't a cursing, vodka-swilling, husband-humping liberal when she's with her friends. 

i posted a short comment on her blog (and owned up to the fact that i was copying her.  imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so suck on it) stating how i WANT to say i'm myself all the fucking time.  how i'm always this real and awesome and crazy.

the truth is, i am always this awesome and crazy.  and i think i'm almost always this real.  i learned/was taught at an early age that appearances were important.  that some things were acceptable, and some were not.  i was not encouraged to share my feelings.  when i started 'acting out' at 11 or 12, i was brought to a psychotherapist who said i was lying for attention - that i was a pathological liar.  when i began being abused and mistreated by a family member, i told another adult - and was accused of lying.

i never brought it up again.

and thus began my foray into years of wearing many masks.  at school, i ventured between shy and crying to being outgoing and loud.  i would be holed up in the nurse's office or library hiding from people one day and holed up in an unlocked art closet with a boy the next.  i would lock myself in my bedroom and hang a blanket over the window and cry, or tape a plastic bag over my head and try to die.  i would go to a family function, all dressed up with my makeup done and smile and shake hands and be the perfect teenager.  i was myself in my bedroom, when i was alone.  some friends saw through a few of the cracks, some of my family picked up on things here or there, but what it all amounted to could be written off as 'hormones' or 'moody teenager'.  i hid my depression, my suicide attempts, most of my addictions, my cutting, my sexual activities, all of it.  no one - not one person - knew the whole story.

and i'd put my mask on and see my family or friends, i'd go over this one's house or meet that one's parents, and everything would seem fine.

until my 18th birthday.  at my paternal grandmother's house.  in front of my brother, dad, aunt and uncle, and grandparents i had a literal meltdown.  i barely remember what was said, but i remember shouting that i was sick of pretending to be someone i wasn't just to please them. 

it was freeing; it was horrifying.  i was disgusted with myself for acting like that, but pleased that the proverbial cat was out of the bag.

but was it?  i like to think that since that day, i have been myself - i'm not afraid for you to know i'm a neo-pagan: a witch.  i identify myself as a bisexual, as a democrat, as a big girl, as crazy, as a recovering addict, as a self-injurer, as an artist, as a cat-mom, as a wife, sister, and daughter.

i am always all of these things, whether or not i tell my friends or family, my prospective employers, people i meet in lines at disney.  just because i don't say these things doesn't mean i'm not these things.  it comes back to what semi true said: she is not authentic with these people because she is afraid they will reject who she really is. 

i think we all come to a point where we decide FUCK THOSE PEOPLE.  if they can't love me for who i actually am, why would i want them in my life?  but even then, there is a line.  don't we all have a friend who we really disagree with on at least one major issue?  for instance, i'm superagainst declawing cats to the point where when a friend was considering declawing her cats, i considered ending the friendship.  (she didn't and neither did i.) and looking back - i would not have ended the friendship.  i would have shared what i knew about declawing, let her horribly mutate her cats, been a bit mad at her inside, but kept the friendship.  that is not authentic.  but does that make it wrong?

it's like i said in the comment i left on semi true's blog.  i hate pants.  they are tight and clothesy.  my thighs get claustrophobic.  so often, when i am in for the night, i take my pants off.  since we currently live communally with mom, i try to put my yoga pants on.  but that doesn't always happen.  just because i don't take my pants off when i go to my dad's or my in-law's or your house, am i being inauthentic (or whatever the word would be)?

no, i'm being fucking polite by not subjecting you to my cellulite.

but i do have two friends who live in new york.  when i get to their house (when they don't have roommates who object) i take off my shoes, take off my pants, and curl up on their couch.  i know it's not exactly the same, but it's not really like i'm wearing pants (FINE, it's not like i'm wearing a mask.  you guys are boring).  it's not like i'm wearing a mask when i am in mixed company - it's not that i'm not being steph gas.  it's that some of steph gas is taking a time out because it's easier to keep the peace that way.

like my friends-who-i-remain-pantsless-with.  we went to disney and got drunk one night.  the two of us with BOOBS decided to flash all the tourists on the way home.  that was steph gas being steph gas.  me not taking my tits out when i go see my brother is not me being disingenuous.  it's just a part of steph gas that is taking a time out because my younger brother really doesn't need/want to see my bewbz.

so, to wrap it up here, the practical upshot of all this has to do with keeping your pants on and your BOOBS in their place when you are with people who might judge you.


  1. Yeah in life we all have to wear masks so that riots don't ensue. I have many masks but know who and when I can take them off.

  2. I think I love you, Steph!

    You get it. The problem is me and the fact that I am currently living a life where everyone will judge me. And not feeling that I don't want to put up with the aftermath. And not wanting my kids to have to.

  3. I think there was a double negative there. Reading it back. Not feeling that I want to put up with the aftermath of the judgment. Is that better? I think it is. More grammatically correct anyway.

  4. I think we are all different things to different people but the key is not to lose ourselves in the process. I did. But I think I am finding myself. But I am not prepared to drop the mask completely and open my self up to judgement. I am a people pleaser. I know that. That is why I blog in secret. If some people knew this side of me, knew that I wrote what I do,.. well, lets just say it is easier keeping this to myself.

  5. Okay, now that its morning time and I've had some coffee and thinking more clearly. I have to say that I love being tagged as a vodka swilling, husband humping liberal! :o)

    Steph, I hate that you were forced into living unauthentically when you were a teen. And I am glad that you finally freed yourself. I love who you are...bewbs, cellulite and all. You can run around pantsless at my house any time. It's all good.

  6. I need to work on being myself around my family. I worry that they'll find my blog, that they'll learn that I say fuck and talk at length about oral sex, that I ENJOY saying fuck and discussing oral sex. I paint my toenails, file my nails, straighten my hair whenever I go over to my grandparents so I won't endure criticism. But this year? I made a vow that I'm heading to Thanksgiving in true Nicki eclectic fashion. Pantsless. Wait, Steph just said that's a bad idea. So...Thrift store skirts and 40's pumps, baby. It's a process. I may even give them the URL of my blog.

    Okay. Not yet. Baby steps. Baaaaaby steps.

  7. I feel like I still over-censor, and have just recently gotten flak (flack?) from various camps about some of my content.

    A part of me wishes that I had decided to blog anonymously, instead of basing it on my existing Facebook friend base. And some family. Turns out other bloggers are typically the most sincere, dependable and supportive in the end.

    So I feel like a bit of a fake. I could go on and on and on. I feel like I am digressing with this whole "embracing who I am".

    But props to you, my dear. You are ballsier and honest and I am jealous in a good way. It's something for me to work towards.