This weekend, someone I don’t know all that well popped up on my Facebook page to debate politics. I’d posted an op ed from The New York Times, so you could say I was asking for it, but alas this post had gone unnoticed and uncommented on for days. I’d moved on. A friend of mine, however, had not. She engaged and the 2 of them went back and forth in long missives of “you’re wrong,” and “no, you’re wrong” until I went to bed Saturday night, totally exhausted from the stress of watching an argument I wasn’t even participating in. I finally used humor I didn’t feel to get them to stop, and went to bed. Still that timid little girl I once was, in an uncontrollable environment, voice lost.
I know a woman who has a story to tell. She’s a little younger than me. She is trying to write about her family. She is afraid. What if she embarrasses them? What if they disown her? What if her voice hurts them? What if they start screaming “you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong”?
I just finished this book. On page 49, Hitch writes: about thirty-five years ago [my editor] informed me that an article of mine was well argued but dull, and advised me briskly to write “more like the way you talk.” At the time, I was nearly speechless at the charge of being boring and never thanked him properly, but in time I appreciated that my fear of self-indulgence and the personal pronoun was its own form of indulgence. … So, this above all: Find your own voice.
This morning I read the Katie Couric news that she was bulimic in her early 20’s. So was I, though I didn’t know at the time that it had a name. It never even made me skinny. It was my PCM: Perfection Coping Mechanism. The first person I ever told was a doctor I saw last year, 20+ years after the fact. I was filling out a clipboard-full of paperwork for an annual physical. There was a box to check. I was so scared to check that box. I checked the box. I wished I hadn’t checked the box. Too late. My glaring “x” in black ink. But you know what? The doctor barely even asked about it. That’s how common, how un-newsworthy, it was.
Who (or rather, whom) are you trying to please?