Diamonds on the outside…

…bullshit on the inside.

I’m sure we’ve all met people like this. Charisma,charm a lot of talk quite often about a lot of nothing,all about making an impression and desperately wanting to be liked.

I looked at a guy like this is the mirror for many,many years.

So long as you were interested in people like me I’d dazzle you quite easily. Unconsciously I’d choose people who didn’t want any substance from me,those who did I’d steer well clear of as they’d find out I was a con artist in a minute. So I’d find empty people looking for an empty me.

Ask me at the age of 20 how I felt I’d have stared at you blankly wondering what the hell you meant. When I was in treatment someone was speaking about intimacy. I had to ask what they meant and the counsellor explained.

‘Oh,it’s not sex then.’ was my response. I genuinely had no idea why people cried.

This also meant all my relationships,friends or lovers,ran out of steam as there’s only so far a script could take me before there was nothing I had left except to turn to booze or TV dinners.

I had a great teacher though. My father is an expert at hiding. Any phone calls starts not with a ‘hello,how are you?’ and an interest in his son but with an anecdote. Some of them are a lot of fun for me as a lover of cricket with his stories of playing with some of the greats in the English game. Well, let me put that differently, they were great until I’d heard them all again and again and again. His latest betting scam isn’t of interest.

He taught me well. He was terrified of being vulnerable,of being intimate. I remember putting my arm around him at my step mother’s funeral and he pushed me away physically. In that moment I saw how terribly wounded he is,unable to receive comfort at the graveside of the second wife who had died before him. And this breaks my heart to remember this lonely,broken man used to be my hero.

I no longer want this in my life,these vacuous relationships. I’m committed to being open,vulnerable,intimate.

Sure,the con artist in me can still work him magic. He also helped me survive when I had a broken heart and no idea how to talk about this,where to talk about the beatings,watching my mother throw up for days after the latest alcohol binge.

I’m grateful to my con artist,the one who kept you so far away you’d never know me. And also kept me ever so lonely. Because I realise now a ten minute conversation with real intimacy and vulnerability is worth so much,heals so much. Hours in front of the tv,talking sport,gambling whatever the subject is worth not a lot. This fills time,not hearts.

As The Who said…Can You See The Real Me?

I truly hope so now as I’ve long since been tired of lying to pretend I’m ok,perfect or both. You’re going to have to like the real me…and so am I. And that is a real challenge. A real act of love,of self love. To accept me and all my frailties,imperfections and still love myself enough to stand tall as me and not hide. Wow…that really is Loving Me Now.

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings–
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator–
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Charles C. Finn
September 1966

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