Yesterday my column was inspired by the cover of this week's
People Magazine, featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones disclosing her bipolar II
But alas, my manicure/pedicure continued, so I found myself entrenched in the article about Demi Lovato as well. The young starlet was in rehab for self-mutilation/cutting, an unhealthy relationship with food, and--timely--bipolar disorder. Thank you People mag, it was a good week for the emotional health-obsessed.
I thought I was just about to get to the good stuff about Lovato, and then I saw them. Parentheses. Those little bitches that say "ohmygod soooo sorry to interrupt, but just one quick thing."
But it wasn't just one quick brush-over-able thing. It was a
massive thing: "Lovato is estranged from
her biological father."
Hello!! Kind of an important detail, thanks. Don't you think that maybe, just maybe this would have a bearing on how she feels about herself, her identity, and her sense of importance in the world? And it may, just may, in-turn affect her in cutting herself and thinking she's fat, when she's really just drop dead gorgeous and I want to go out to brunch with her and unpack all of this so she can move on and love herself for real already? Um yeah, it's massive. Believe me.
It seemed to me that the best stuff, the most important stuff, the ah-ha come-to-Jesus moment for a journalist just went poof! Here and then gone, like it never happened. The who, what, where, and when were answered nicely, while the "why," or at least the beginning of the "why" conversation, was back on page one in those damn parentheses.
The truth is, I have no idea if being estranged from her biological father is at the foundation of Demi's challenges, but I can almost be sure that it's part of the equation. And that leads me to wonder about our own parentheses.
We all have 'em. Yes, even you little miss I-have-no-issues, especially you. The "parentheses" are the parts of our story we would rather not include in the explanation of why we occasionally, or every day, have a hard time in life, in love, at work, at home, in the car, on a train, on a bus, on a plane. Everywhere. The parts of our story that would so clearly explain everything, but we hide it wherever we can, because it's just too painful to go there.
I sabotage every good job or relationship that comes my way (my parents told me I wasn't worth anything). No one is good enough for me (I was hurt and am way too afraid of being hurt again). I don't believe in marriage (my parents went through a messy divorce). I just want to be single right now (I'm gay). I'm a badass (I have lower self esteem than you could ever fathom) And so on...
Parentheses are where the 'real' stuff lives, where the most important part of your story sits, hoping no one will notice it. Painful? Extremely. Authentic and life changing and sparkling and wish-I-would-have-done-this-years-ago stuff. Once you go inside the parentheses and scoop it all out - and finally get to understand the story of this person you're walking around living as - that's where the answers are. Absa-f'ing-lutly.