There's a scene in Layer Cake where Gene explains meditation to Daniel Craig's character Mr X as being any repetitive activity which demands concentration from the front of the brain to free the rest of the mind, in his case stripping down a weapon blindfold. I've no idea whether that is an accurate description, either of assembling a weapon or true meditation but it's certainly how I feel about death walking.
Today, bundled up in so many layers I was impersonating the Michelin man I was thinking about the nature of truth and lies. For me, going without a correct diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome for so long has been the cause of far more damage than the condition itself could ever cause. It's impossible to explain how it really feels to be told so often that everything you say about yourself is a lie you wonder if that's true yourself. It is like being in a trap because there simply isn't anything you can do to change people's perceptions of you, and of course just being in that position is enough to effect some quite strange behavioural issues.
The only way I have been able to explain to people a little of how it feels is this scenario.
Imagine someone asking you what colour your eyes are. It's a simple fact. You might have brown eyes, or blue or even green. Although people's perceptions differ, it's unlikely anyone will try and tell you that the primary colour you believe your eyes to be actually isn't.
So, you've told the person who asked you that you have brown eyes, when to your great surprise that person tells you you are wrong. Your don't have brown eyes. They go further and tell you you are lying. You've made it all up to get their attention. You don't have brown eyes at all.
So you go away and look in the mirror. You see brown eyes looking back at you. The seeds of self doubt have been sown though and you wonder if perhaps your eyes aren't brown at all. Perhaps the person is playing a trick on you, perhaps you're colour blind?
Then another person tells you your eyes are not brown. Tells you not to be so ridiculous when you disagree and say they are in fact brown. Insists you must have some hidden agenda in saying your eyes are brown when they quite clearly are not.
Imagine that scenario repeated endlessly for years on end. Not just about the colour of your eyes, but every single thing you say about yourself. Confusing doesn't begin to explain how you'll feel after the people around you tell you you are wrong about yourself for years and years on end.
I thought the only thing to do was to tell the truth. Always. No matter what trouble it caused, I vowed I would always tell the truth. The more people told me I was a liar, the more important it became to me to be truthful. I held on to the hope that one day things would change and then I would be able to hold my head high and say I'd always been honest. As I became more and more disabled balanced only by the ever increasing lack of belief my family, friends and medical professionals had in me, always telling the truth became the only constant I had to cling to.
Of course when I was finally diagnosed it came back to bite me. I had clung to 'truth' as some sort of lifeline but it was the last thing anyone who'd disbelieved me wanted to hear.
The legacy of all this is that, despite now being surrounded by people who think the very idea of doubting me is ridiculous, my first instinct is always to think people don't believe me. It probably always will be. I'm terrible at 'white' lies, although I try very hard to be tactful. I know full well my concept of 'truth' is unreasonable, and particularly it is unreasonable of me to expect anyone else to have such a skewed concept of being truthful.
The positive is that I regularly have people ask my opinion as apparently I'm the only person they know who'll give a truly honest answer. Which, for now, whilst I try and let go of my psychological safety blanket will have to do.