I’ve heard this a million times. Well, maybe not a million, but a lot. It has been said to me whenever I say something unpopular, which is often, I guess. I’ve been told that I “certainly don’t mince words” and several other clichéd ways of saying “please, just lie to me.” I really don’t understand how honesty, something that used to be valued, became the least common denominator. People would rather have some fictional version of reality than the truth, I guess. I have always found that annoying. I just say what’s on my mind. I’m surprised that I am so straight forward as I learned very early in life to hold things in.
When I was two, we lived with my grandmother and step-grandfather for a bit. When none of the other adults could watch me, my thirteen-year-old step-uncle babysat me. He also forced me to perform fellatio on him. After weeks of this, it finally dawned on me that this just wasn’t right. He had told me not to tell anyone, but one day, when I was standing next to my grandmother in front of the refrigerator, I decided to say something. I thought that my grandmother would certainly put an end to all this. In a way, she did because she ended any talking about it. She got angry at me when I stumbled through my two-year-old version of what was happening. She didn’t wonder where I got the vocabulary to talk about a penis going into my mouth. It was 1974. There was no internet and porn wasn’t widely accessible, at least not to toddlers. Instead, she assumed I was just talking trash. Grandmother told me, “We don’t talk like that!”
So, I didn’t. We eventually moved out of my grandparents’ house and I never spoke of what happened, until it happened again.
I was quiet about it for five years until I was seven going on eight and decided to speak up again after a particularly terrifying night with my step-uncle. When I finally told on him, again, my big brother asked me why I was lying. He was 17 at the time and should have beaten the shit out of someone who was raping his sister. But no, like most people, he didn’t want to deal with the truth. Since I did not receive any counseling or medical care after this episode, I assumed the rest of the family didn’t want to hear it either. They simply couldn’t handle the truth. It was easier to just not talk about it. So, I didn’t.
The other day, I was unfriended on Facebook for being honest. This person had posted something like, “If you are always saying ‘just being honest’ people hate you.” I commented that I really didn’t care if my honesty offended others. The person told me that my friends probably didn’t like me, or something to that effect, and unfriended me. When I noticed she unfriended me, I said “okeedokee” to myself and went along with my day. This was a writer I had never met in real life, so it was no big loss. Even if it was someone I did know in real life it would be no big loss because a “friend” who tells me to stifle myself is not a friend.
I am grateful that this particular former Facebook friend posted what she did and unfriended me. She inspired me to take another look at how I have been communicating. I figured out that though it may seem like I have no filter, I have been holding a lot in, and that’s not good. Holding everything in gives me stomachaches and headaches, and it gives me horrible writer’s block. Every time I go to write something honest, I stop myself. No more. I intend to finally finish that memoir I have been procrastinating on. I’m going to be honest, and that may piss off some people, but I’m not sure I care.