It happens sometimes, when you meet a person. You look into their eyes and think you see a well of emotion and intelligence. One that isn’t obvious until you are gifted a glimpse, permission to know a little more. It’s concealed behind a screen of clowning and casualness. The random behaviour, the jokes and drinking, the conscious avoidance of anything serious – these are perfect covers. All the ‘stuff’, all their realness, hidden safely away and vault-locked. I’ve seen it many times. Good, clever, wise, talented, kind, people. Hiding so much behind what, with time, becomes a caricature of themselves. A colourful, over-animated, one-person entertainment factory. What better way of fending off those uncomfortable feelings and avoid conflict than with a big dollop of humour and a large slug of wine?

Sometimes there is a little glimmer, a shaft of light beaming down on their face, affording brief insight. And in that instant, we meet the small child… full of memories, heartache. Just a little kid looking for love and attention and a quiet moment to bond with the Important Adult. And the sadness, the rejection. The ‘not good enoughs’, the hurt. Then… gone… walls up, protection mechanisms in place. The smile is plastered back on, mask adjusted and the crowd gather back around to dance the merry again.

Sometimes the saddest part, is knowing the audience, the crowd – friends, and lovers, and family – need them to remain the incorrigible drunk or the slap-stick comedy genius; fulfills a need for them all too. They wont give this up, will subtlety demand the player dance; party king, the hilarious waster, the reprobate, the manic comedian. They need someone to laugh with – or at. They may even need the company down in their own deep vat. Permission will not be given to lessen these unhealthy behaviours, no personal evolution encouraged… They will not be allowed to embrace other aspects of themselves. Not without seismic brute force. And we know that isn’t within them. May never be.

What I have to remember, the really important lesson I need to keep reminding myself, is if they aren’t willing to connect with these beautiful, tender, special, inner parts of themselves, wholly and honestly… the part they so carefully bury… how will I?


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