I lie every day. All the time. As much as I’d like to say that ‘the world/the system/society’ forces us all to lie, to hide ourselves and be something we’re not, that’s bollocks. But, all the same, I have been trained to lie, to hide myself and to be something I am not.

Writing has been the way I’ve held on to myself recently, first uncovering that self through this journal, then exploring it. Whenever I’ve lied, whenever I’ve gone into work and felt I had to compromise who I was in order to get through the day, writing has helped me.

But everything has changed. When I first started this blog, I just wanted to feel that I’d done something, that I’d written something. Then, with the journal, it was about writing anything and quickly about writing about writing and why I wanted to be a writer. Why I was a writer.

Getting married and moving house has further solidified my self, my ownership of my self. November was a revelation as, for the first time, I removed my self from my writing and wrote in different voices, beginning a novel I hope will be just the first of many. I wasn’t submitting to an imposed ‘self’ to do this, I was just being myself, a writer. A thinker.

At the same time, my grasp of my own values, beliefs and ambition took me to a place I hadn’t expected, and this blog became a place where I wanted to express and not simply explore. A place I could use to change something, even, or at least to put my aspirations for personal growth out there for others to read and discuss and react to.

I’ve slipped, just a little. A heated talk with my wife last night reminded me how, in the beginning of this journal, we’d had the same problems – I wasn’t thinking until I wrote, and so until I wrote I didn’t think about how I really felt, and so I wasn’t talking to my wife about how I felt. About how I was. About my self, my quest.

That’s because, yet again, I was lying. To myself, to everyone. I was getting up and coming to work and pretending. Lying. Once you start, it’s incredible how hard it seems to change things – the idea of being honest looks more like shouting at people about how stupid they are, or how mealy-mouthed, or how hand wringing. It’s about rage, not being myself.

I am still leaning on writing to maintain my sense of self. And when I can’t afford to give it the time it deserves, whether to think about or write about what I’m feeling or thinking, then leaning on it like this is damaging. Because really I ought to stop lying, and start seeing honesty as not raging against but standing proud. As being myself.

Wearing a mask and denying myself, who I am and what I really think or feel, is utterly emotionally exhausting. When I come home, after a day like that, I’ve nothing left to give. And that isn’t good enough. I’m letting everyone down and no one is benefiting. Least of all myself, least of all my wife.

But what does it mean, to be yourself? I was terribly late for work this morning, and within ten minutes I’d already lied about it. I’d already pretended I was someone else. That is, someone who really, firmly believes that being late is anything worth giving a fuck about. I then proceeded to do four hours work in one hour. So what’s the problem?

My wife and I were at a weekend party which left me blown away for so many reasons – realising what I’d missed out on growing up, realising how low my expectations of life and of other people really are, realising how angry I was that more people don’t think that it matters for us all to be like the people I shared this incredible time with.

Being late for work is a nothing problem. And yet I get so angry at myself for it that it kills me, kills any ability I have to think straight. And it doesn’t matter, not a jot, not unless someone actually sits me down and makes it a problem. I don’t need to lie about the why or when. It doesn’t fucking matter. What matters is that I do my job. That’s what I believe.

And living the way I believe is the only way I know to avoid being emotionally and mentally drained by the sheer effort of keeping up a facade, of pretending. Pretending to give a fuck about being late. Pretending to agree with spineless or unambitious decisions. Pretending to go along with approaches which only see the worst. Pretending not to hope.

I can’t comment on how other people get through the day. I don’t understand many other people who seem so incredibly ‘real’ while at work. But I don’t have to, actually. I just have to respect that they are living their life how they feel is best, or that they are trying to. And, in turn, expect that respect from everyone else as I try to live life the best way I can.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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