The Only Confession Booth Anyone Needs Is Their Own Bathroom Mirror

No confessions required. We all do this. We just do. We stand in front of a bathroom mirror and we get real with ourselves — realer than we get with anyone else because the person we’re getting really, really REAL with is US. When we look into our own eyes, we see a version of us that no one else sees because no one else can (or ever will) — the you YOU know. The you you are. We speak to ourselves with a voice we don’t use for anyone else. It’s the most honest voice we have; maybe the only honest voice. Don’t think we can’t bullshit ourselves. We most certainly can and do. But we know, deep down, that we’re bullshitting ourselves even as we do it. We see that lack of belief in our own eyes.

I named this blog after a book I’m writing — “How to Live Bullshit Free: A Practical Guide To NOT Killing Yourself” — in which I tell my personal story — how a secret I kept hidden from myself for 45 years finally achieved a kind of critical, self-destructive mass inside my head and tried to kill me. Between a great therapist, a mood stabilizer that successfully mitigates my depression and copious amounts of THC to mitigate my creative hypomania so I can be creative, I beat back depression’s grip on me. The thing about one’s darkness — the thing causing one’s depression — is that it knows you better than you because it is you. It knows where all your bodies are buried because it helped you bury them. The more you listen to your darkness, the less perspective you hold onto. That’s depression’s MO — it robs you of perspective, convincing you that the whole world is the ever-shrinking misery-nubbin you live on. There’s nothing else out there so why bother going on?

Except that’s not true. There’s plenty out there. Hell — there’s EVERYTHING out there, beyond the reach of your darkness. If only one could figure out how to open one’s eyes to it.

My darkness had me convinced that I was responsible for being sexually molested twice when I was 14 — by the religious director at the synagogue where my family belonged. The man who molested me put me on an island with him — an island built upon the secret we shared about what he did to me (and the fact that I never reported him). If you didn’t know that secret about me, I told myself as I grew up, you didn’t really know ME. And since I wasn’t sharing that secret with anyone (I was even keeping it from myself, remember), there was NO WAY for anyone to get to know me. My molester condemned me to 45 years of self-destructive isolation where long-lasting, deep, trusting friendships were hard to come by because I had no idea how to forge and maintain those bonds.

I remember looking in the mirror at myself wondering why I was so unhappy. I would stand there, searching my eyes for a clue while, ironically, all the clues I needed were right inside my own head. If I had to describe the inside of my own head, I’d call it a black box theater. Think a shoe box, painted all black on the inside then turned over. Anything can happen inside that space. You can put the audience anywhere, the lights anywhere, the actors anywhere. You can have as much or as little set as you like. Meanwhile, in addition to the performances going on inside the black box theater that is my mind, there are a dozen or so projections — movies in black and white, color, technicolor, sepia. There are lasers and lightning flashes of black light. There’s music and sound and… what I think of as a wonderful kind of chaos.

But there’s also a stairway — attached to the theater’s back wall. The stairs lead up to a platform up in the rafters just beneath the black box’s roof. On the platform, there’s an office. Go in the door and you’ll see there’s a closet in the back of the office. In the closet (open the door), there’s a filing cabinet. Open the top drawer and you’ll find a memory, glowing white hot: my molestation. It was always like I stood in the black box theater’s doorway, down on the ground, but I was always keenly aware of that light burning up in the corner, unseen but not unknown.

Between therapy, the mood stabilizer and the cannabis, I was finally able to confront my demon — the fact that I was molested. It happened as I stood, late one Friday night, in the bathroom, gazing at myself in the bathroom mirror. “You know what happened, right?” I said to myself, “You know what that man did to you.” I nodded. And then I broke down and sobbed on that bathroom floor for hours, crying not so much for me as for that 14 year old boy who felt so alone and isolated from the world.

That first confession was brutal. But, damn if it didn’t set me free.

Confession isn’t easy. It’s hard. Harder still to confess your deepest, darkest “shouldn’t have’s” to yourself: “I shouldn’t have had that last glass of wine… shouldn’t have said that… shouldn’t have betrayed that confidence or violated that trust”. But, also — shouldn’t have taken the blame. Unfortunately, part of getting mentally healthy is doing a lot of heavy lifting. There’s no easy route to it — but there’s a route. That’s key. There IS a route and we all deserve to be on it.

Use it like a mantra: “the truth WILL set you free”. And being free is the first step to being happy. Living a lie and living happily are mutually exclusive propositions.

Go on — look yourself in the eyes. Tell yourself the truth the way you know it is. In the end, you will thank yourself.

I Know Who I See Staring Back At Me In A Mirror… What Does A Republican See?

At some point, unless you’ve removed every reflective surface from your house, you WILL have to see your own face reflected back at you. I don’t know about the rest of you (cos none of us will EVER be in a bathroom ALONE with anyone else) but when I look at myself in the mirror, I look right into my own eyes.

In those moments, I bore in on “me”.

I see those moments as me getting to talk to ME. It’s me having a chance — if I choose to take it — to speak directly to myself — to that box of thoughts and traits and wild imaginings that I think of as “me”.

Now, let’s be clear — we all lie to ourselves. Mostly we tell small lives to us about us. Mostly it’s because we want to be “better” than we are: better friends, better spouses, better parents, better at our jobs, better at spelling, better at sex, better at getting what we need (vs what we think we want). Telling ourselves little lies is a survival skill.

Except we know we’re lying to ourselves even as we do it. Because it’s us doing it. To us.

We know what we know. We know when we’re bullshitting ourselves about it, too. Except… we are capable of keeping secrets from ourselves. Hell — I “kept one” from myself for 45 years (that I was sexually molested twice when I was 14 by the spiritual director at my family’s synagogue). I knew it happened. It rippled through my life every day; hell, it was the reason I tried to kill myself. That secret.

A part of me always knew it was there, waiting to be dealt with one way or another.

I make it a point now — my mental health depends on it — to be as honest as I can with myself. Lying has proved it’s no good for me. Honesty with myself to myself is where good mental health lives. That’s what makes watching Republicans lie so compelling to me.

Donald Trump is a text book sociopath. He has no conscience to speak of. He’s not capable of being honest with himself; lying — even to himself — is how he rolls. That doesn’t excuse the lies for two seconds. Most Republicans are quite capable of discerning truth from bullshit; they’re NOT sociopaths. The only good explanation for how Republicans behave these days is “guilt”. Knowledge of guilt.

Bill Barr may be a hard core Christian shill but he’s not an ignoramus. He KNOWS empirically that the bullshit he spewed the other day to the Federalist Society (like the bullshit he spewed at Notre Dame a few weeks before that) is rubbish on steroids. When you say things that are demonstrably untrue, it’s not because you believe the opposite is true; you NEED the opposite to be true because you’re a goddamned liar, a thief or a criminal.

My bet is most Republicans don’t see anyone staring back at them. They see a physical body. They see a face. They even see eyes. But there’s nothing behind the eyes — except fear maybe.

We know damned well they’ll never see an honest person staring back.