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My Name Is Iden: 12 Months of Being Honest

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November marks the one-year anniversary of this column. Writing these essays has been an emotional and transformational journey. A journey that I am grateful to have had the opportunity to make. The act of creating is wonderfully fulfilling and the mere act of writing can itself be quite a transformative thing.

But when I started writing these essays, I was not new to creating. I was not new to writing. I had been writing fiction for years, for decades. I had piles of prose, stacks of stories stagnating across three generations of hard drives — and almost no one had read any of it.

I hid my creations in the same way that I had hidden myself. It isn’t easy to hide your real self. It is an act of incredible cruelty to take that person and stuff them away into a closet, and it is torture to live alone in that darkness. I didn’t realize how much pain I had caused that self.

I had thought that I was protecting her. The truth of what I had done became clear to me two years ago and it shook me. I was not, am not, a cruel person, but I had been terribly abusive to myself. I didn’t do it out of malice, but out of simple, primitive fear.

I vowed that day, “No more.” No more hiding. No more fear. That day, I released my true self. I unlocked that closet, that prison, and I promised her that I would never force her back into that suffocating darkness ever again.

It was exhilarating for Iden that first day that I stepped out into the sun. At last, my suffering was over. At last, my pain was behind me.

Or so I thought.

Then I lost my job with the fire department. The thing that I had always feared would happen to Iden if I didn’t keep her safely locked away in that closet happened. The people  I had thought were my best friends, whom I trusted more than anyone, had rejected me. The nightmare that had lain twitching at the base of my brainstem for all those long years became reality, and it was a pain like none I had ever felt.

I faced a choice then: keep trying to live as myself and risk new and terrible hurts or shove her back into her cell. My instinct was to lock Iden away. As awful as it was to be in the closet, at least it was a pain that I knew. But I couldn’t do that. I had promised her on the day I came out that I would never, ever, put her back into that cell. So there was really no choice at all. I had to face my fear. I had to keep trying, keep trusting, keep sharing my true self with the world and hope that I survived it.

Continue reading over at Yellow Springs News.

Words by Iden Crockett.

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