Until I’ve No Reason to Hide

I did a lot of hiding during my childhood years, hiding mostly from my family. The pretense of our make believe family drove me to seek out creative ways to avoid (as much as possible) its insanity.

Books were an excellent place to hide. While anger, avoidance, passivity and sexual perversion contaminated the atmosphere of our home, I took flight into worlds unknown, via the printed word. Floating on a raft with Huck Finn, enduring the long winter with the brave Ingalls, or throwing spit wads with Otis Spofford, I lollygagged with open book every chance I got. The fact that fiction was also pretense didn’t worry me in the least; it was not pretense for the sake of deception, but for the illustrating of truths not found in my family home.

There was never any question about the Ingalls sticking together through thick and thin; it was a given. Their interactions were based on bedrock loyalty and the good old persevering pioneer spirit. I knew the Ingalls were a real family who had lived in this world, but the writer in me sensed that some creative license must have went into the written portrayal of their world. Still, I knew without a doubt that their lives had stood for something. That they treasured their integrity as much as they did their loved ones.

My family was never going to come close to that kind of a loving family, not in a million years. Reading about others who managed to love their offspring, to protect and nurture them, didn’t turn me bitter. After all, it was good to know that somewhere in this sad old world people still cared about the treasured values that money can’t buy.

And so, I was a hider. I hid in books. My room was an eclectic mix of Barbie and Ken dolls, a cow skull hung on one wall wearing a pair of yellow granny glasses, marbles, books books and more books; of play-do ashtrays drying on my window sill and the endless stories I was forever writing cluttering the surface of my bed and dresser. Here I hid as well, hid deeply and often. So often that my mother would periodically knock on my door, and demand that I join the rest of the family for an evening of TV. Her pinched brows, expressing as much disapproval as her cold tone of voice, grated on my sensitive spirit. Reluctantly, moving as slowly as if I were being led to the gallows to be hung by the neck, I followed her out into the living room, steadfastly avoiding eye contact with my molester, sprawled on the couch in his Fruit-of-the-Looms.

My backyard fort, in collusion with my wish to be disconnected from my family, harbored my fugitive self. There within its solitude I imagined I was a famous writer, or the beloved wife of a handsome, gentle man whose laugh would boom with joy. Sometimes it was God I thought of, but that always ended in sadness. What had he to do with such as I, now that I had been defiled? I probably didn’t use that word to myself to describe what had happened to me, but it’s sure how I felt. Defiled, contaminated, scarred for life.

Oh I was a hider, alright. I hid in Girl Scouts and religion, I hid in daydreams of a whole different life with an entirely different family. Most of all, I hid in different personalities, hid so deeply that I was not aware they existed until 5 years ago.

There are many hiding places to which I resorted time and again, and I became quite expert at unearthing them and squeezing from their spurious shelter and succor every last drop of life possible.

I’ve been a hider extraordinaire and now I’m working in reverse, trying to learn how to not hide. Come out come out, wherever you are! is the singsong of some game played in childhood. The echo of it haunts me, reminds me that I have perhaps been in hiding way too long. But what it means to come out of my self-imposed exile, I really have no idea. For now, the hider stays hidden just a while more.

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8 thoughts on “Until I’ve No Reason to Hide”

  1. I understand the hiding thing. I used to hide out with the animals ( we lived on a farm) I couldn’t hide with books as I didn’t learn to read until I left home, but the animals accepted me and didn’t want anything in return. Now as an adult I do hide in my home. The real world scares me. I don’t understand how it works, and it doesn’t understand me 😦 sorry hope it”s ok to say all of this.

  2. Feel free to express whatever you need to! I think we can all learn from each other. The “real” world scares me too, and I sure haven’t figured out how it works. I think I’ve spent most of my life trying to fake it.

  3. From one hider to another, I’m so glad to see you posting again. I have been keeping upm though at times am unsure how to respond. I love that coffee IV graphic you had several posts ago. Where did you get that one?

  4. There is something to be said about hiding, about retreating until you know what it is you should step out and see or step out and do. Acting with no clue can sometimes be damaging. Counting the cost of your steps before taking them is wise. As long as you intend to come out of your hiding place, as long as you peer out, as long as you understand in your heart there is something to come out of hiding for then you will eventually no longer need that dream land to hide in. But sometimes, it’s okay to hide, it’s okay to retreat and take a break. But in order to live, to connect a person can’t always stay hidden from view or hidden from the view of reality.

    Austin

  5. From one hider to another, hello.

    Like you, my room was where I spent all my time when I wasn’t at school. I was a constant reader. I would get a dozen books out at at time if I could. Unfortunately the school library only let us take out 2 at a time. My teachers were kind enough to let me use some classroom books too.

    Over the course of a week I read those books over and over again. I loved the Little House series. And I loved Shel Silverstein’s poems too. As an adult I bought his books for myself. Interestingly enough, it’s one of the few purchases I don’t beat myself up for making.

    I was your typical introvert. I was much happier (as if I was ever really happy) by myself. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t really know how to be a child. All the kids my age seemed so…. immature. I know now that I was the one that was off on my developmental track, not them. But I never fit in.

  6. to survive one often had to hide as best one could, whether in books, or whatever was available. as far alters coming out they must do it when they feel safe and able to hide again if need be. we all could tell a thousand stories couldn’t we? i guess that’s the whole thing, to tell our stories so we each see someone else who has been there so we feel validated, not so alone. What a journey!!

    Thank you for an honest post that many of us identify with

    keepers

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