Secrets are dangerous things.
My grandmother hid behind her secrets. She carried them everywhere. When she fought with my mother, she’d sit on the couch looking shattered. “It isn’t that bad, grandma,” I’d say. She’d look away, whispering in a quaky voice, ‘You can’t know how bad it is, Danny,’. When I got older and had witnessed the wide scope of misdeeds that conform to the norm, I pressed her. “Come on, your secret can’t be that bad.” “I’ve done the most horrible things,” she’d say.
My father cloaked his weakness and folly in his secrets. He’d hint at things that he knew about himself, his life, his children, as if he had gotten a look at a classified document that explained everything. “I worry about your sister,” he’d tell me, implying somehow that we had a responsibility to watch out for her, but when I asked why, he’d just say, “I just am more concerned about her, I can’t really say why.”
Those secrets kept me wondering for too long about things that I couldn’t know, speculating about the veil of hidden knowledge and how I could pierce it.
What I didn’t know then is that you make your own secrets. They are a cell that you construct around your soul, the place you erect the barriers of Self and Importance and Hurt and Fear. When I got into my own life I said to myself, No secrets. When I had children, I said to them, No secrets. And at the times in my life that I realized that I was organizing my life around secrets, I changed my life
Last night talking with T. I realized that I’d ended up with a secret at the core of my life, and that protecting that secret was becoming the purpose, rather than doing the thing that the secret was meant to create room for.
In order to help me make space to write and to develop a creative identity that had been hidden too long and defined too clumsily, I made this place on the web under a pseudonym. I started to develop relationships with writers and artists in Twitter under a pseudonym. The anonymity gave me a chance to stretch a little, be defined by what I could do, not by who I had made myself in my adult life.
Writing under a pseudonym is something practical and manageable. But creating relationships under a pseudonym is ultimately deceptive and damaging. How can one sustain relationships with another with any authenticity while maintaining anonymity? You have entered into the relationship with control. You’ve determined what can be done and not known. You won’t allow the other to discover you. You won’t allow the other to truly evaluate you.
So, today I undid the veil of anonymity. I put my name on my Twitter profile. I changed the explanation on my About page here.
I’m Dan McCarthy. This is my personal blog. I’m a writer. And I’m going to have to be authentic to write with authenticity. As long as I want to participate in the creative community on the web, I need to present myself as myself. I’ll still publish with a pseudonym — to the degree I can get published, that is. But for the people who know me, in the digital world and the analog world, it’s important that I acknowledge who I am, openly and without worry.