Most writers, myself included, are an unlikely mix of brazen and bashful. Brazen: Who puts words out there for anybody to see, is never more than moderately certain of their accuracy and origin, and still forges ahead, possibly confidently wrong? And bashful: Who’s more comfortable undressing her soul to the world-at-large than to a friend, over coffee? Answer: a writer.
I’ve been saying this quote since 2001, both to myself and to others. It’s even a line in my first novel. It used to be the first line. Here it is:
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
Admittedly, I’m not the originator of this quote. It was wisdom from a psychologist in a roomful of broken people. Since when is a roomful not full of broken people? Haha. But. We were there for the express purpose of acknowledging our brokenness, to scrutinize ourselves. I signed up with the singular goal of jettisoning unwanted parts of Kelly. The counselor was adamant that we’d not be jettisoning anything that weekend. We’d be learning to value and embrace. I was already pissed at that idea, and I hadn’t even got any truth, yet.
You can see how it would be a memorable moment.
We sat in a circle twelve strong, and the facilitator started us off with the truth will set you free, but first, it will piss you off. Instantly I grabbed onto it. It spoke to me. I’m originally from the East Coast. Allentown, PA, to be exact, which is plenty East enough. If you don’t know what I mean by East Coast mentality, think New York. East Coasters make being pissed off an art form. I used to think the middle finger was how you said hi to your kind, like the Jeep Wave.
Which is why I could get behind the quote about being simultaneously freed AND pissed off. I asked myself, had the facilitator quoted Gloria Steinem all those years ago, and I missed it? Entirely possible. It was at this point while writing this post I had a thought…
…and decided to stop writing and Google the quote. Reason being, I found the quote here, in this post from Writer Unboxed. The quote gave Gloria Steinem credit, but I expressly remember Googling the quote years ago, back when I used it in my novel. And I remembered NOTHING came up. This time when I Googled the quote, it came up as a book title. A TITLE. Gloria Steinem published her book in 2019. And (horror of horrors) she put an exclamation point at the end of it. How to take a perfectly wonderful quote and poo on it: place an exclamation mark at the end.
So how did I feel, seeing my quote (which, granted, wasn’t exactly mine) mudded with an exclamation mark, now a book title, and definitely not proper fare for a line in my book?
As you’d imagine. :((((((((((
I trust, I HOPE Gloria’s been saying my quote longer than me. It was a bit deflating. But, if you read the post in which I found my quote, you’ll see it’s about keeping one’s flame lit, all through the dark night. The post is a writer’s declaration of non-surrender. Has this cheer been done a gazillion times in a thousand different ways? Yes, but that’s because we humans need reminding. Yes, and especially these days we need cheer and cheered and cheered up.
Here’s Kelly, all wracked over somebody beating her to the punch on a quote. She forgets who is the author of the first half of that quote, The Truth will set you free. Uhem, Jesus. And although he’s not credited with the last part of the phrase, he does say: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
Which is a good place to end this little blip of my mind (thank you if you’ve come along). I’ve decided to take Jesus’ advice, which is to take heart and be done with being pissed. How I love to chuck things over my shoulder, even phrases. I can choose to shrug off my disappointment. Tomorrow I may need more cheer, cheering, or cheered up because we’re in such a time as this, but today I’m going to smile.
The truth about my truth quote did piss me off. But only for a moment. To let anger linger is another form of shackle.