Puerto Rico, where the sound of competing roosters blends with those of wandering cats, both of which will give way to the lullaby of the coqui frog when the sun begins to set. The people are warm and friendly, and though most speak English well enough, they grin amicably as you stutter your way through Spanish, helping you learn the correct pronunciation. The food is hearty and cheap to come by at road side stands and restaurants that are little more than a room in someone’s house. It’s a place to get away, to slow down and enjoy; a place that I love.
Unfortunately, even here I cannot escape myself. Even here, laying on the beach to let the sun dry the ocean off my skin, I cannot help but remember days gone by: the things I’ve done, the person I once was, and the frightening idea that I’m not the only one who has those memories of me. I think sometimes that it’s that last one that worries me the most, the fact that for all of the memories of me I wish I could forget there is at least one other person (and sometimes many more) that has that memory of me, too. I could come face to face with a living, breathing, reminder of my past life at any time, at any moment. And not just me. Anyone, any one of you, could come face to face with a piece of my past. It isn’t just the shame that I can’t escape, it’s the fear of having to face the things I’ve done all over again, it’s a fear of being found out.
As any of you who regularly read this blog know, the memories of last year’s vacation to Puerto Rico are foggy and regretful at best. San Juan, Rincon, Guanica… each little city has it’s own shameful imprint in my mind, a memory of something I did or a way I behaved that I wish I could forget.
To be fair, it isn’t that Puerto Rico is any more or less difficult than any other place in this regard. While it’s true that I am straight-line walking some of the same steps here that I was drunkenly stumbling last year, it doesn’t make the waves of memories any better or worse than they are at any other time. It doesn’t even take a similar situation to thrust me back into the middle of a vivid remembrance of some terrible thing I’ve done, or said, or been a party to.
Sometimes I wish I could write all of those things here, expose all of the filthy and depraved scenes from my past and leave it here for you to deal with. I wish I could write it all down and be done with it; the things I’ve done when I was drunk, the things I did to get high, the terrible ways I hurt people that never deserved a bit of it. I wish that everyone could know these parts of me so that I wouldn’t have to worry anymore about people finding out. If everyone knew I’d never again have to think “what if they knew?” If you all knew everything about me, all the dark secrets that I hide, then you’d either stay or go, but either way I’d be free. I would never have to worry again about the truth coming out, the past catching up to me, my secrets being revealed. In theory, it sounds wonderful; it sounds like peace.
In theory it sounds great, sure, but I can’t seem to make myself actually write the words. When I do manage to put into words a flashback, a bit of dark history, it never makes the final draft.
My fear, of course, is that people will go; that if faced with a complete picture of me, people will recoil in disgust, in judgment, and I will be alone. And my greatest fear of all is ending up alone.
How do you deal with a lifetime full of shame? What are the steps to achieving wellness, within and without? Are there answers? What are your thoughts?
- New Year, New Measuring Stick (redeemedsocialite.com)