A cover story, have you got one? I bet you do.
You know, the convenient story you tell so you do not get ‘into trouble’ with your partner, your parent, whomever you feel accountable to or at least obliged – the story or stories you tell to escape.
Mea culpa, I have my share. The medical consultation that took longer than usual because I’d gone to a café for a little time-out. The slightly extended work hours because I’d tagged on some blogging time. The longer drive home because I’d in fact left later than I said I would. I’d like to believe my cover stories are harmless. Perhaps.
I have been told cover stories that range from the ‘I am a tee-totaller’ to cover up the fact he is a recovering alcoholic, the ‘I am unwell’ to avoid the work she has come to detest, the ‘I’m fine’ to cover up the hurt, the ‘you would not believe what happened to me…’ to cover up the underlying emotional turmoil, to ‘I am here for my children’ to cover the fear and hopelessness she feels.
Then there are cover stories of the strong capable woman in denial, the righteous indignance of the man who doubts, the abusive actions of the boy who feels unloved, the loving caring girl who is ashamed.
Why the cover story? I speak of being authentic, to be true to one self… yet the cover story…
They are for the moments I don’t feel entitled and thus guilt; when I believe I am not doing my duty and thus shame; when one believes the cover story gives him acceptance, when the cover story grants approval instead of rejection, when lacking a cover story makes her feel vulnerable and unsafe; when facing one’s fears is too frightening.
For the sake of self-protection, we create a multitude of cover stories, great and small. We doubt our entitlement to be true to ourselves, to follow our bliss, to dance to the rhythm of own drum … when we are complicit in believing another’s agenda, views, expectations, needs, wants, desires… take precedence over our own. This is when we do not love ourselves enough to stand for ourselves, to declare to the world, ’Here I Am’, ‘This is Me’.
So are cover stories good or bad, harmless or otherwise? This ought not be the question. The question is why the cover story, and allowing ourselves space to explore this. And if we must speak of harm, perhaps the most significant impact cover stories have is upon ourselves – when our cover stories are so effective that we lose ourselves.
Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.
Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance
I learn this lesson every day – creating cover story, questioning cover story, grappling with using or not using cover story, preparing for potential conflict and resolution, holding on to my truths and my desires.
I will learn this lesson until it is learnt – the lesson of self-love and self-respect.
What is your cover story? Why?
Have they serve you? How?
NB. For the complete poem ‘The Dance’, click here.
© 2015 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.