I have started this blog 50 different ways in the few hours it has existed. After all, when you’ve been playing hide and seek for four decades and everybody forgot you were playing and no one came to find you, how exactly do you show yourself?
Do you tear off all your clothes, kick the door open, throw yourself out there butt-naked and say, “Ta-da!”
Do you put on a beaded gown, fling the door open with a flourish and sing, “I’m here, darlings!”
Do you snatch a stocking down over your face, slink out, creep up from behind and say, “Boo!”
Or do you just turn the knob, let the door creak open on its own, and stand and wait for someone to notice you?
How exactly does one emerge from a parent-imposed game of hide and seek?
Over the past 10 days or so, I’ve had the exquisitely frustrating, humiliating “privilege” of having to prove my existence to New York State; of having to prove that I am, in fact, the daughter of a man who up and died; a man the world knows as having one child – a son – 18 years younger than me. This, by necessity, means that this son has been discovering – over the past 10 days or so, that his life is a lie and that his father was engaged in a cruel, self-serving game of hide and seek.
The obituary stated it like this, “In 1977, he reinvented himself.” Within that sentence, within that one short phrase, is a universe in which I exist. Now he’s dead. My mother, his pre-reinvention-era wife, who died in 2018, was the only other connection I had to him, in this world, that mattered to me; the only other connection that kept me hidden away. She didn’t do it, he did.
But now … but now … the game has ended. And I have lots of proof that I exist. Lots of proof. Undeniable proof – not the least of which are an adoption certificate and a form that changed my name from Williams to Jackson when I was one week old.
I’m not nonexistent anymore. Unfortunately, that doesn’t release me from the parallel universes I’ve been living in. You see, I’ve also been engaged in a full life. And so I’ve been living two lives:
The one in which I don’t exist – the one that broke my life and caused me to live with depression, PTSD, unerasable stints in the hospital wings in which you make crafts, and an unexpressed thing that has built up in me over decades. The life that caused me to feel that despite having a husband who loves me, respects me, honors me, trusts me, truly dotes on me, I’m never enough, I’m undeserving, I’m cold, and a bad wife. Thirty years of a great marriage and I’ve never been able to feel … happy. Two sons who love me – they’re good, they weren’t perfect; I’m proud of them, and mad with them – just like all parents, I’m sure – but never feeling as though I gave them the mother they should have had because I wasn’t all there because part of me was playing a sadistic game of hide and seek.
I am and have been many things in life. Anyone looking at it would say I’m successful. I guess that depends on how you measure success. I feel successful … and I feel a failure. But this blog is not about that.
I feel invisible and yet, when I go to work, I walk into rooms where people literally clap and shout, “Yay, she’s here!” But this blog is not about that.
I have had decades of work in the entertainment field – singing, dancing, acting. I won an award for singing and I’ve been in productions that were very well-regarded. But this blog is not about that.
I’ve always felt like I’m supposed to be an artist but I’ve never been trained and I never know what to do and so, at times, I up and make some art. But this blog is not about that.
I teach dance and fitness and I’m in a professional dance company. But this blog is not about that.
I was estranged from my mother, while seeing her often. But this blog is not about that.
I have always believed in God, though I had some angry years, questioning. I cannot live without my relationship with God. But this blog is not about that.
I had been involved in a very strict religion for some years. I have abandoned religion altogether. But this blog is not about that.
I consider myself to be an average person, in every way. I happen to be Black. It is an enormous part of who I am. If I weren’t Black, I wouldn’t be who I am. But this blog is not about being Black.
I have been writing all of my life. When I die, I don’t envy my sons’ and my husband’s task of what to do with my journals. There are tons of them. Plus there are little snippets of things with plays written in notebooks and they are scattered all over the house, in my trunk and in my sewing and crafts room, in my bedroom in my nightstand. They’re just everywhere. I even got published once, in a little literary magazine that’s so obscure I don’t remember the name and I don’t know whether it still exists. I have a short story published there. I have writings and songs in the Library of Congress. I had a play produced. It was a bad play. But this blog is not about that.
This blog is not about a million different things.
This blog is for those of us who were not lucky enough to find that one thing that defines us; hard to accomplish when you live in two universes. Maybe that’s a plus. Maybe it’s a minus. I don’t know.
This blog is for those of us who are hiding in plain sight, part of everyday life, but feeling that no one sees us … who may be admired and emulated, but no one knows us … who are social butterflies, and yet, take every opportunity to hide.
This blog is for those of us who, everyday, have to prove our existence to ourselves. Otherwise, how could we keep going?
This blog is for those of us who know that life is a gift and so we don’t want to remove ourselves from it. We want to live it. This blog is for those of us for whom life hurts but we’re not going to remove ourselves from it. We’re going to live it.
I’m not sure what it’s about, to be honest. But I do know that the chains have been taken off me, finally, removed by death – the death of three parents – and now, I don’t have to mince words or hold back … because this blog is for those of us who would never hurt others the way we’ve been hurt.
This blog is for those of us who feel guilty expressing our joy and feel guilty because we often have difficulty expressing our joy.
This blog is for those of us who feel like everybody loves us … until they don’t like us.
This blog is for the average person living an average life, floating between two parallel universes. I hope that you will peek in. I will probably confuse you because one day I may speak from one universe and the next I may speak from the other. But they’re all me and many of the things I’ve been through, I suspect you have been through too. I welcome you on my journey.
I will see it through. I guess I’ll find out what it is about as it goes on.