Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
“Do you censor yourself?” a new friend asks of my writings. It’s the tenth time I’d heard that in the past month, either as a curious question, a suggestion, or a warning. The answer, in all cases, is no.
I do censor what I write about others, often to the point that they aren’t recognizable—though some people think it’s them and it’s not. Others think I’ve forgotten them because I don’t mention them by name, but I’ve told them I won’t discuss them by name or anything we’ve talked about beyond my own personal feelings, and I’ve tried to stand by that. But for myself, no, I really don’t censor myself.
I’ve had warnings recently to be careful of what I say,
that my opinions and feelings can be used against me. That wouldn’t be the first time, but I’ll never be one to star on a reality-TV show and swear everything I did was all in the editing and that’s why I’m portrayed all wrong. It’s always funny to me when I hear that defense for why someone got caught on camera cheating at a competition or lying about something and then claimed it wasn’t the “real” unedited them. In every case I’ve seen thus far, they really did and said the things that made them look bad and the editing just highlighted it and gave it a theme.
Have I written angry things about my father, my ex, my bosses, etc? Yes. And for the most part, once I committed the anger to paper, it was gone…on that issue at least. Or the edge was taken off of it. Some people find catharsis in acts of violence; I find less bloody ways to release it. The same is true of all my darker emotions, as well as many of the brighter ones. I am openly exploring them and releasing them, but in my own way.
Does that mean my words can’t be twisted into something I didn’t say or mean? Absolutely. But that can happen whether I write them or say them or even if I’m silent. There will always be people who’ll skew things to fit their agenda.
But I refuse to live in a cave in silence and call it life. I
grew up with parents who were afraid to say anything, ever, about the way they felt or what they disagreed with because someone somewhere might not like it and not like them for their opinions. What they never quite got was that the people they were afraid might not appreciate their opinions either didn’t care, didn’t know they existed, or hated their opinions anyway. But they kept silent and were careful of every word they said. It’s a dull existence.
Another friend recently relayed to me that various people are reading my essays whom I never would have suspected of it. After all, many of these people refused to read anything I wrote for decades or if they did, it was only for the entertainment of criticism.
Knowing who some of these people are, a new friend wants to know if I find that knowing I’m being watched or read makes me change what I write or if I censor myself because of it. I’ll admit, the temptation has been there, but I’ve never acted in favor of it.
My feelings about my job and my co-workers (good
and bad) are the same regardless of whether the General reads my words or not. My feelings about family issues with abuse, molestation, hypocrisy, racism, and lots more—they’re all the same whether or not I get hate mail from various cousins who want to deny its existence.
My feelings regarding high woo-woo experiences with the Ether—those paranormal events with psychics, ghosts, Ouija boards, exorcisms, channelings, past life regression—are still mine whether or not my least favorite atheist is reading them and posting them for the ridicule of his friends.
My feelings regarding business partners and business decisions are the same, good and bad, whether or not those people read a word I write. My feelings regarding spiritual leaders are the same, even if they tune in daily to see if they’re mentioned. My feelings regarding my ex and his family are the same, regardless of how bizarre it is to me that they would follow my writing more closely now than ever before.
My feelings regarding The Treat are still my feelings, even if he should someday discover my journals and realize who he is in them and that I still carry a torch for him. My feelings are mine, and I don’t expect them to be anyone else’s, but I won’t deny them either and I certainly won’t shy away from certain subjects just because someone’s presence would have that chilling influence on my expression of self.
When the subject is one that I know will be disapproved of by someone in particular, especially someone who reads my work discreetly, I will explore it anyway.
To do otherwise would put me back into a cave of silence where I can never bring things to light and work through them.
It’s a struggle sometimes, and an interesting exercise in personal freedom, but how can I live a life a authenticity if I have to censor everything I do and say?