May 16, 2013

My Public Shame

I don't have much use for privacy. I spent my entire childhood in secrecy, hiding the horrible things my parents did to me, putting on such a good show that most of my high school classmates have no clue of the depths of depression from which I still haven't emerged.

For years, I hid myself. I hid my shame about everything. I hid my virginity, which I lost later than most. And then, when I was sexually assaulted my sophomore year in college, I chose to write about it in the campus newspaper. Not anonymously.

And an outpouring of support followed.

I've had my secrets since then. I've snuck around since then. But generally I feel better if everything is out in the open.

I feel horrible about where I've come from and what I've been through, but it's made me who I am today.

And, presumably, that's a good thing.

So why shouldn't I talk about it? Why shouldn't I reveal how I feel? Can't somebody out there relate to me?

Might I do some good if I let my voice lead the way?

Maybe I'm just desperate for the attention. Maybe I think there's no point in doing something - or dating someone - unless people know about it.

My first boyfriend took me on our first date accompanied by his best friend. I thought at first he didn't want to be alone with me, but I realized later he was kind of showing me off. That hasn't happened much since.

After him, when I got older, no one else ever seemed to want to admit any romantic interest in me, and if we ever did consummate, our affairs became a big secret - I became a big secret, to their girlfriends, wives, mothers and friends. All I've ever wanted is for someone to be proud of me, to be proud to be with me. And yet I've constantly been drawn into surreptitious skulking, sneaking around, and serendipitous run-ins.

It seems like no one has ever been able to love me with the lights on.

I am a public person. But not everyone is. That may mean I'll have to be publicly alone.

Though why someone can't be proud to be with me is beyond me.

I have been ashamed of plenty of things in my life, but I never thought I - me, as a person - was the thing to be ashamed of.

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