Charles Walter Smith, blogging diarist.
This is a post about my over-sharing. Sort of. I am happy when people remark upon my honesty, my willingness to expose my vulnerabilities and the ups and downs of my journey. I also feel like a fraud.
Charles Walter Smith, liar.
Last night I was watching the news. Lie. I was doing the dishes and cleaning up after having made a delicious gluten-sugar-additive-free dinner during which process I was half-listening to the news being watched by my sister and niece in the next room. The GOP front-runner was spouting more of his outrageously specious blather, pontificating unchallenged by the newsperson, bloviating bogus “facts” he was clearly making up as he went along. I said to my sister and niece, “Holy crap, that’s what I do — make things up as I go along, and, just like that lunatic, I actually believe what I’m saying — I mean, I really think what I’m saying is true. Or, should be.” My niece looked at me and said, “Well, yeah, but you’re more convincing. And we’re here to tell you you’re full of shit.”
Charles Walter Smith, respected uncle, full of shit.
Charles Walter Smith.
It wasn’t the first label given me, nor the last. I was, originally, I imagine, “Oh no, not again.” My Mom already had four children, ages fourteen to seven, since the last of which she’d suffered three miscarriages. My father hated himself, was Roman Catholic, an alcoholic, and abused my Mom emotionally and physically. Neither of them really wanted more children, but it was what they were supposed to do; they were brainwashed and bullied by religion, cultural convention, and their mutual though never discussed fear that they were failures in the world — he because of an emotional nature and “sensitivity” his older brothers and father had always mocked and hated plus his perceived freakishness from the rolling eye caused by a childhood accident in which it was pierced by a tent-stake, she because she had been orphaned early, was terrified of everything, and enjoyed physical contact in a way unbecoming to women.
So, despite a doctor who told her getting pregnant again was dangerous for her, that her womb was likely unable to carry a pregnancy full term, the Roman Catholic church and her drunk husband wouldn’t stop forcing themselves and their wills on her.
I was not her fourth miscarriage in a row thanks to newly developed drugs. Experimental drugs, sure, but, what was a child unlikely to survive to birth other than an opportunity to experiment? I survived.
Survivor, medical experiment, youngest child, Charles Walter Smith.
It wasn’t long before there was another pregnancy, a different drug to help her carry that child, and in the seventh month of her (at least) ninth pregnancy, her husband, my father, the drunk, drove into the tree that finished him.
Fatherless child, older brother, Charles Walter Smith.
We six children, my Mom, and relatives of my father, built a cult around his absence. I didn’t begin to understand this nor learn the less attractive facts about my father until I was much, much older and had been named and labeled many things. I didn’t understand the damage dancing around dead men and worshipping the imagined and invisible could do until I realized in my late thirties how I’d somehow modeled in my mind an ideal man whose primary quality was absence.
Single man, Charles Walter Smith.
About over-sharing. Being a fraud. A survivor. And full of shit. Born of two parents who felt ill at ease in the world. Member of a cult of liars who danced around a ghost, loving an invisible and largely invented, imagined man whose absence we invested with magical powers.
For many years I searched for, reached for, longed for that man. I looked for him in the abuse and absences of straight men who kept me a secret, who kept me at a distance. I said yes to everything and everyone in the hopes that they would not — as my father had — disappear. If only I could be good enough, smart enough, quiet enough, pretty enough, talented enough, I would not be left.
Charles Walter Smith, lunatic. Left. Liar — to himself and to you.
I’m not who you think I am. Not even close. Like Oscar Wilde before me, I say everything and anything because the truth is the greatest mask of all. Blind people with enough blather and they won’t look beneath the ghost-dance one is doing around the invisible person inside.
Charles Walter Smith, invisible man.
I’m still addicted to that man who drove himself into a pole and left us, on purpose, I think. I, too, like he did and my Mom did, fell prey to cultural brainwashing about aspirationalism, thinking I ought and I must and I should and if only I tried harder, well, then I could and would be better at being.
Charles Walter Smith, failure.
Being here, in this world, who I am, where we all are going right now: terrifying. The intensity with which I ask myself “WHY” every day about so many things, from the moment I get up to the things I see and hear on the news, in person, this dance we are all doing around the invisible people we pretend to be and never — not really — are.
Exhausted and exhausting, Charles Walter Smith. About to have another birthday. Determined to detox. I quit smoking. I quit drinking. I quit listening to someone who told me every day in subtle ways I was not and would never be enough. I quit (half-way) measuring myself by the yardstick of a culture and zeitgeist gamed against me. I quit a lot of rat-race-y, meaningless, harmful things.
Charles Walter Smith, quitter.
Yet, who I am, going, is someone still yearning to be approved of and accepted by someones who are largely imaginary, ghosts, until I, myself, me, Charles Walter Smith, have become an illusion too. I didn’t drive into a pole, I limped into a batcave from which I send out these signals, these stories.
Charles Walter Smith, fiction.