Note: this is a bit long and rambling, just a bunch of thoughts I’ve been having.
As I stood in the crowd, singing along to Pirate Metal I realised how right it all felt. Lucy was trying her usual bullshit, telling me I shouldn’t like this, that it wasn’t serious… And I just didn’t care. I was deeply enjoying myself, at a show with a band that I loved. Not even a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure. Outside opinions be damned.
I have been making a lot of changes in the past 3 years. I’m living the type of polyamorous lifestyle I’d been dreaming about for years, I’ve finally accepted and embraced my inner slut. I’ve shaved my head and gotten my first tattoos.
Yes, the midlife crisis jokes almost write themselves (and I have made them!), but honestly it’s not about that at all. Each change I’ve made felt like relaxing a tiny little bit. Letting go a little.
The mental effect of shaving my head really caught me by surprise. My original reason was pretty straight-forward: I’d been seeing pictures of myself with lots of scalp showing through my hair and it was getting to me more and more. My lovely brain weasel Lucy painted images of me with a 70s style comb-over, everybody snickering behind my back.
I decided to just embrace the “worst” and shave off my hair. If it looked horrible I’d grow it out again, if it looked OK I’d know that even when I inevitably would go bald I’d still be OK. Basically, if you’re scared that the water is cool just jump in.
What happened was pretty different though. At very first every time I looked into a mirror I’d get this ERROR. It would take my head a second to recognize myself, which was a very very weird experience.
Then Lucy changed her tune. Instead of the sad figure with the 70s comb-over, she took a few pages from my internalised classism and now painted me as a low-rent crook. A thug. Well fuck, another fucking opportunity for fucking personal growth.
As I dealt with those feelings something else emerged though, and this one I hadn’t seen coming. Contentment. Authenticity. And this is where it gets interesting.
I’d always cultivated a very clean-cut look. I used to joke about how I may look innocent, but that’s only skin-deep and that people who really knew me knew better. Shaving my head changed that though. I’d gotten earrings again too, and the resulting look had a harder edge to it… And it was so fucking liberating.
I felt for the first time like the outside matched the inside. Like I was daring to show the real me to the world. It felt so good.
I used to proudly say that few people knew the real me. That I only showed what I wanted people to see. I thought that was a sign of strength. I see it now for what it really was though: fear. The deep fear of being rejected if I showed the real me instead of a polished image, customised for each person. If I think of me a decade ago I want to hug the poor guy, tell him that I know how lonely he really is. That it’s OK to be himself.
Therapy is starting to show me just how deeply ingrained this pattern is in my life. I used to say that people respected me, but that few of them really liked me. Well, guess what? That was because I believed myself to be deeply unlikeable.
In kink I struggled with my sadism. Being a Dom is all suave and sexy, but being a sadist? I might as well order the straight-jacket and Hannibal Lecter style handcart now! If I show people the real deep sadism inside me, they’ll run for the hills!
It all comes back to the same thing. This same deep belief that the real me was this unlikeable little goblin that needed to be kept hidden. I had a bag full of masks that I’d wear, one for each occasion.
I’m slowly emptying the bag now though. Taking the masks and breaking them on the floor. I don’t want to put on this puppet show any more. This society doesn’t allow us to be always be our full true selves, but I want to come as close to it as I can.
I’m good enough, the real me is good enough.