I drink too much. I smoke too much. I think too much. I live too little. I know what others see because I write my own narrative. They see a man with it all. The man with love, with prospects, ambition. The tale I weave is convincing, desirable, encapsulating. There is a story I tell, the pages buzz with vibrancy. What they don’t see is the blank pages, the unseen chapters stretching between the public displays, herein lies the truth. They don’t see the unkempt beard, the unwashed and uncut hair, the same shirt worn for the third straight day. They don’t see the empty bottles of wine piling up in my kitchen and the unwashed dishes accumulating in my dirty sink. They don’t see the rusting cogs of my mind stuttering and grinding to a halt. There is a narrative I tell. There is a truth I hide.
We all live in the spotlit shadows of our alter egos. A man divided. Fiction is truth. How would they know otherwise? We exist only in the eyes of others, if family and friends see me as happy, who is to say that isn’t me?
Only I object. NO, I cry, that is not me. I am he.
I am the one who sits in he corner of the bar alone, I am he. I am the one who can not be left alone with his own thoughts, I am he. I am the one buried alive, I am he.
We don’t believe you, they reply. You are what we see.
I am a mind diseased. Which part of my is real? You believe what you see and disbelieve what you can not. My sickness grows in the shadows, existing in the light of my life. He walks in the light of day. I dwell at the bottom of another bottle. He is celebrated, I am shunned. The troll under the bridge, the devil in the night, the truth in the night. Pay no mind to me, there is a more convenient me available. A me who will laugh at your jokes, share your tales, swap your spit. Pay no mind to the decaying me in the corner.
I am what you see.
I am he, you and me.