On being your own "yes" man

Dear H,

When I was young I was scared people could read my mind.  Nobody ever told me that 70% of all communication is non-verbal, and when people started reacting to how I was feeling I began to get panicked.  Simply put, I would feel things and they would feel that I felt them.  And I hated it.

Only I knew with certainty what was hinted by my little behaviors; the sea of feelings and desires and judgments and realizations bubbling and boiling and sometimes spilling beyond my consciousness; being made known by my hands and my eyes and the way I would hold my head.  But they could guess at it -- it was their business to guess at it, it was their interest to guess at it; and this idea that the secret side of me could be made public without my consent led me to wonder if I was a psychic.  This is probably what they refer to as "anxiety."
Smoking grass didn't help, and when the inner monologue became louder because of grass I became more fearful and hid.  This ruined several parties when I thought I'd said things I didn't, and that the words I actually did say meant things I didn't intend them to mean -- but which I had thought.  

The truth is, the inner side of us is more than personal.  It's a secret we need to keep if we're going to survive.  It has all kinds of suggestions we wouldn't choose because it gives us lots of options so we can make a choice between them.  Some of them are beautiful and kind.  Some of them are dark and ugly*.  Some of them are dangerous and illegal.  Most of them are stupid and many of them are rude.  All of them, being rooted in us and by us and for us, are at the bottom of the matter selfish.  People say gay people are closeted, but gays are full of it because all of us are closeted.  99-plus percent of all our sexual desires are closeted and some of us have claimed a monopoly on the closet.  And this closet, it turns out, is our friend.  Only an idiot would claim it to himself and call it an enemy -- a problem society forced on him, which makes him turn on society.

Not only would it be impossible to spill the contents of this incredibly profuse wardrobe of spirits, but it would be unhelpful.  Nobody needs to know every time you want to punch Johnny in the eye, and nobody needs to know every time you want to tear Suzie's underwear off with your teeth.  The fact that we feel these things is enough of a burden for ourselves and leads many of even the best-behaved of us to cry about our "sin nature."  Such as the covetous mind.  Or the lustful heart.  Or the hateful soul.  So all of these thought crimes weigh on us, making us feel ugly and adulterous and devilish, all hidden unless we give them away, all hinted at by the look in our eyes and the shape of our mouths, all spilling involuntarily at times and other times shown purposely, and when we're good at our game smoothed out by art and sheer willpower**.

This has led me to wonder exactly what people mean when they say we should be "yes men" to ourselves. Yes to what exactly?  To the things we've chosen to say no to?  To the inexpressible and inexhaustible volcano lurking right behind the masks we put on?  

I'm already a no man and I'm glad of it.  I've said no to an infinity of things so I can be something, and something better than the infinity at that.  I'm already married to the self that I've made, spurning all my other possibilities; loving one beyond all others; an expression of a side of myself so lopsided that I reflect a mere point in an infinity of other possible beings.  Which other me should I be?  The side I wouldn't have picked?  No -- I accept that most of me is hidden and I keep it that way, and I accept responsibility alone for the part of me that isn't.


*The really dark suggestions get amplified by our fear or loathing of them.  Running away from this side of us only causes us to dwell on it.  You can never forget something you're running from, after all, and it wasn't until I accepted the darker parts of myself that I was able to minimize them.  Meditation and positive thinking and Jesus didn't help.  Shaking hands with the Devil did.  Ignoring him as a permanent and natural part of yourself will do what the socially-acceptable parts of your soul can only try.

**The general idea is that men should be good at hiding their pain, but this isn't enough.  A man should know how to express joy on command.  A case in point.

Few people are aware of the pain I'm in daily.  This back of mine, crooked in a couple of ways that's led me to the doctor three times a week for a year and a half, leaves me so hurt at the end of the day that moving becomes miserable and I can't sneeze or lay down without wincing.  It often feels like I have a knife in it.  Sometimes it's even hard to breathe.

Expressing this to people every day does me no good.  People hate to see pain.  If they see it in your eyes they think something's wrong; and if they can't tell what's wrong they assume something is wrong between the two of you.  They read your unhappiness and assume you're unhappy with them.  Your "being unhappy with them" leads them to being unhappy with you.  

So what I do is hide that I'm in pain.  Half the day my smile is a smile in defiance of myself.  I choose to love the people I deal with because I want them to love me.  You can't do this by expressing how you really feel.  You have to express what you want them to feel.  A man knows this and sticks with it.  He controls the mood because he's in control of himself.  He chooses what he'll be and then he lets the others believe it.