Shhhhh…it’s a secret

I’ve never been any good at keeping secrets, neither my own nor those of others. Over the years I have learned to be circumspect about the truth, as it has the capacity to inflict as much pain as revelation. I was hugely relieved and felt exonerated from a degree of responsibility about my galloping tongue when someone once said to me, if you really want to keep a secret, don’t tell anyone.

It’s a generational thing I suspect. My mother and grandmother’s respective era’s locked things in closets of the past and kept them there, to the extent we often have airbrushed and sanitised views of history that create an inaccurate aura of the uniquely dissolute and debauched lifestyle of our times.

A few years ago my mother died and I’d ended a relationship that I decided marked the end of any further attempts to be part of a couple, as I simply seemed to be better on my own.

I’d already written two books about various of my taboos and issues and decided to complete the trilogy with a book about my personal history.

Bring it back, let it out, let it go.

I was comfortable about writing about experiences that could perhaps open me up to being judged, such as prostitution and addiction, and felt that I could cope with any intersection of the parts of my life that I kept separate, crossing over.

Not having a partner or family member with the same name, I believed that any judgement that could come, would affect me and no one else, and that I could handle this

These past ‘secrets’ were never secrets from my close friends. They weren’t a big thing, not really alluded to and were simply part of who I was.

Last year I had an exhibition in my home town and my book ‘P is for Prostitution’ was being sold in the gallery.

Several people who work in the same area as I do in my part-time mainstream job, bought the book.

Now I didn’t freak out, but I was unnerved. Though I had actively aimed to integrate aspects of my life and self, when it started happening on such a close level I felt shaky.

Truth to tell these women who purchased my book that I considered ‘straight’, didn’t seem to be negatively affected in their opinion of me.

I’m not naïve enough to think that such revelations don’t have an effect on people’s views and judgements outside the more alternative society I move within (bearing in mind when I shared at a AA meeting about my sex work I was inundated by men requesting to go out with me, all with some expectations of sexual tricks and acrobatics) but as I’ve become older I’ve been gifted with not caring so much anymore.

I thought.

Well then I met someone, something that I never thought would happen again. Who knows where this might lead, and I can only presume Google would provide an insight into some aspects of me that I don’t necessarily bring up in conversation at early stages of courting.

Of course if this relationship continued, and the person concerned is right for me, my past is a foundation of who I am now, and is nothing to judge me on.

Still, I’m wary and trying not to focus on whether my openness could take away something that is presently a gift.

So meanwhile I’ll hang onto the good things that my revelations have harvested; the strength in my sense of self, the private e mails from people saying ‘thank you’ and the freedom from secrets and their power to bind.

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About charlottejane2002

Author of 'P is for Prostitution', 'The Bloody Sacrifice' and co-editor of 'A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead' which are all published by Mandrake of Oxford. Italian publisher Roberto Migliussi has recently released 'The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling', a book of Charlotte's collected essays printed alongside images of his own art work. Charlotte is also an artist who creates spiritually directed art works from road kill and found objects. She has had her written work printed in anthologies and various magazines and on line publications and has given presentations at many events and institutions including Edinburgh University and Brooklyn's 'Museum of Morbid Anatomy'. Her art work has been exhibited widely including at London's Chelsea Gallery and The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, and is soon to be shown in New York.
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