By Katherine Szekely on Sunday, September 11, 2016
I have always been one to play dress-up. From the earliest age, I would put on and take off clothing and jewelry, trying each piece on individually, and as an ensemble. The act of creation and impersonation repeatedly taught me that identity was an ever-evolving process. Each day could hold the possibility of emerging from your home as a new being. How I was perceived today could be totally altered tomorrow. My chameleonic tendencies were one of my favorite things about myself, though they did cause some issues.
Friendships never came easily. Perhaps it was because of this constant shedding and rebuilding of skin. Nobody wants to be around a shape-shifter: their lack of tangibility inspired the friend’s insecurity with how fragile their own image really was. Maybe fear of death underlined their distance. But, with most holding me at an arms-length distance, my malleability turned into protective armor rather than a tool for Self exploration.
Somewhere along the line (probably during the awful thing called adolescence), my deep sense of this Self was muddled upon the layers and layers of personas I piled on. I’m an actor; I’m an artist; I don’t eat that; I only wear this. The avidyic cloak of mis-knowing choked me like an over-tight turtleneck. But, instead of playing a much-needed solo game of strip poker, I piled on more. The addiction of becoming smothered that little flame of “no” deep down, in that place somewhere below the navel.
I can’t say that I’ve stopped. My ego has effectively become Play-dough, but the gross kind where all the colors have been so smushed together that it’s a dull shade of shit brown. It will always be easier to escape into another skin, another profession, another person. But, I can never not feel the consequences again; the feigned ignorance can no longer be a source of escapist bliss. After a while of believing I’m something I’m not, my guts begin to hurt. It’s almost as if my intestines just can’t digest another disguise, and all of the un-chewed, processed garbage I shoved down my guzzler is shoved up as ego vomit. And there I stand, with a raw throat, sore stomach, and a bowl-full of yet another poison mistake I thought was medicine.
And then…lightness. The raw, nude Me steps out and feels the Sun on her skin. And, just for a moment, I Am. And then I reach for a towel, like Eve suddenly looking down after her fall into consciousness, and here I go again.
The towel is getting smaller, I hope. Maybe this time, it’ll be a washcloth instead of a beach towel