This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Â-” William Shakespeare
The truth as we sometimes know it, takes various forms and is hidden in a multitude of places.
Sometimes others know of it, sometimes only we. My experience to reach the truth is probably something some of you have also gone through, the same road, but a different journey nonetheless.
It started with me wanting to be Olivia Newton-John with the straps down on my singlet in a group sing-along at the age of three, which I thought was completely normal. My parents’ disapproving look and kept me uncomfortable about being completely myself.
Next came school, where my days were spent enjoying relative ease with my group of misfit friends. It was nice to feel a sense of belonging, but it still fitted like a steel glove. It covered, but it felt all scratchy and cold.
High school was horrendous. I lived for sneaky cigarette breaks and couldn’t wag school enough. I just couldn’t fit in anywhere. I was at sixes and sevens every day.
Asking a girl out for lunch in the final months of year 11, she said yes and eventually became my wife.
Two months before the wedding I had an anxiety attack at work, I couldn’t breathe. I stayed home staring at the wall. I couldn’t articulate it, but something was pounding at my head and clawing at my heart.
On the day of my wedding I woke up, elated and with a sense of adventure. My bridesmaid’s sister came down the aisle, smiled so genuinely at me, yet I never detected the silent tear running down her face.
Months after the marriage, in complete silence I told my wife the truth. We hugged and tried, as sweethearts with little experience of life, tried, to make sense of this newly verbalised information.
Seven years later, while bathing my youngest son, I couldn’t pick him up. He sat there splashing around in his plastic bath seat oblivious to the life-altering split he was about to experience.
She reached over my slumped head, picked him out of the water and patted me assuredly on the shoulder.
For so many months I had been crawling through my life, so dark, numb and isolated. I stopped dead in my tracks and before the darkness had won I heard my voice tell her I could no longer stay.
Those words were vacuous and echoed for what felt like eons. I walked past the fridge and saw properly for the first time in years a magnet quoting Shakespeare from my sister.
And I did-¦