Thursday, 30 April 2015
Most of us have been messed-up by one unfortunate experience or another - drug abuse, alcoholism, violent partners, childhood bullying, workplace bullying, extreme mental health issues, stalking, strange obsessions and compulsions, you name it.
Yet to most people we seem quite mentally and emotionally healthy, going about our daily lives in an unassuming way, not showing any signs of inner turmoil or distress, apparently well able to cope with whatever life throws at us.
Only occasionally do we let slip some small clue, some oddity, that makes people wonder if we're as normal as we seem to be. Usually it's only our loved ones, or our closest friends, or a therapist, who are privy to some secret agony that's tearing us apart and which we're desperate to end.
Many of these hidden torments are things other people wouldn't understand or sympathise with. Or we're deeply embarrassed and ashamed of them. Or we don't want to expose how much pain and hurt they cause us. So we keep our lips sealed and deal with the anguish as best we can.
As you know, I have plenty of neuroses and hang-ups of my own. Some of them I've revealed but others I seldom confide to anyone. If people were more open-minded, more tolerant, more compassionate, I wouldn't need to be so secretive, but the fact is that prejudice and intolerance are widespread. Anyone revealing something a bit out of the ordinary can be vilified.
So like most people I'm adept at acting normal. Or so I believe. But more than likely my engrained eccentricities are all too obvious to everyone. Just don't probe them too deeply. There might be an alarming shriek of pain.
PS: After Ione Wells wrote about an experience of attempted rape, more than 50 people confessed on her website to similar experiences and said they were previously too afraid or ashamed to speak out. A number of students at her university confided similar experiences to her. And I bet that's just the tip of the iceberg.