Last week I had dinner with Julie Mollins, the awesome reporter that did a story on me for Reuters During that dinner, she spoke of my novels, relationship blog posts, and podcasts, and she did something I thought no one would ever do.
She compared me to Shakespeare.
I’ll forever remember that moment as I sat across the small table from her at a lovely Turkish restaurant just adjacent to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre on the South Bank of the Thames. My thoughts froze for a minute as I grasped the magnitude of her comment.
She said that, like Shakespeare, my writings, especially my relationship blog posts and podcasts, captured the essence of human nature and deep truths about human relationships.
She compared me to Shakespeare.
Shakespeare. Sweet Swan of Avon. Master of language and verse…and human nature. Through his characters and plays we experience both the best and worst in people. Where murderous villains and those weak in character met the same fate. Darkness and death. Those who lie and cheat, and those who love, struggle. And that’s life. Struggle.
Now, I am well aware that I do not have his command of the language or his talent or his skill. Nowhere near. Not even in the same universe as the greatest writer to have ever lived, but the comparison touched me just the same. It expressed value in my work at a time I was completely convinced that neither I nor my work had any value whatsoever.
Seven weeks ago I embarked on a journey to England in the hopes of being recharged after a particularly difficult year so I could write again. I’ve had a 27-year love affair with this country, its literature, its history, its music, its people, its beautiful grey skies, so I knew that if anything could heal my fractured soul, England could. But life once again had other plans.
Love lost. Enough said.
“Oft expectation fails, and most oft where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest; and despair most sits”
Unable to write in my grief, I spent my time just trying to get through the long, empty hours in a foreign country where I knew almost no one. I had never felt so alone in all my life. Teetering on the edge of middle-aged cynicism, this latest slight and betrayal of a deeply trusted love proved to be the breaking point of the last remnants of my sensitivity and hope, especially mixed with the hardness of London. A hardness, by the way, that makes NYC look like an innocent, fluffy bunny.
Inspiration eluded me. My muse, drowned in the murky waters of the Thames. Self-esteem at an all-time low with no comfort or relief in sight for weeks. Trapped in a foreign land with little money and less hope.
Now at the end of those seven weeks, I look back and see that I learned a lot about human nature. Perhaps naively, I’ve always thought that people do the best they can with what they know and what they have to work with. I believed the best in people. I believed that most people wouldn’t lie unless given a very good reason, defaulting to truth whenever possible.
Notice the past tense.
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves”
Throughout the past two months of struggle, I reached out to the people of London looking for someone to share some time, to share some affection, to share some stories. I tried to meet people in person at a pub or on the Tube, but I’m rubbish at that. So I met up with UK followers from Twitter. Old friends I hadn’t seen in years that I reconnected with through Facebook. I put up ads on Craigslist looking for other lonely people with nothing to do. And I found lonely people, all right. So many lonely people it’s staggering.
Yes. I’ve learned a lot about human nature on this trip.
I’ve learned there is no shortage of lonely people.
I’ve learned that everyone is broken in some way.
I’ve learned that everyone has a story to tell, and those stories are full of pain and loss, sprinkled with fleeting joy and love.
For there is a shortage of kindness and love and compassion.
There is a shortage of patience.
There is a shortage of courage.
Story after story, both from new friends and old~nice, genuine people and those who turned out to be assholes~all had the same theme: pain, regret, and fear…From people struggling with depression, anxiety, OCD, and other mental ailments to severe childhood abuse. From women duped by online sexual predators to men seeking affairs to ease their emptiness…
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
The stories were endless. So much pain. And people wonder why I write dark fiction. Darkness is truth.
The root of all these issues stems from an inability to communicate, a crippling fear of the truth inside, and more importantly, expressing that truth. Too many people put on a brave face, bulletproof armor, and pretend everything is okay.
Everything is not always okay, and when it’s not, it’s so very important to express that, especially to one’s partner in life.
By burying unhappiness beneath a smiling mask, that sadness and unfulfillment festers and grows in the deep, dark crevices of one’s soul. Until one day, it explodes in violence or infidelity, or perhaps it’s drowned in a bottle. And the cycle of pain continues. Generation after generation.
We as a culture allow fear to cripple us, believing that everything will be all right tomorrow. Something will change tomorrow. Something will tip tomorrow…and it will all be different. It will all be rainbows and puppies. Tomorrow.
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”
It won’t be. Tomorrow will most likely be just like today.
That is unless you take action to make a change. Find the courage to end the cycle of pain for yourself, your partner, and your children. Emotion is not weakness. Expressing emotion is not showing weakness, it’s showing strength. For cowards are the ones who lie, who deceive, who hide in their caves, in the cages of their own making.
“And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”
Find the courage to express your fears to your partner, and you will be amazed to discover that they also are scared, maybe of the exact same thing, and there are few things more healing than to discover you are not alone.
There are few moments more joyous than to realize you are loved even after you show your inner darkness. Because we all have it. Every single one of us.
“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Fear is universal. It’s human nature.
We are all afraid. We are all in pain. We all need love.
We all need to feel loved and accepted and respected.
Don’t wait for something to change tomorrow. Make your own choice today and choose. The courage of truth in the face of your fears instead of the cowardliness of lies and deception. Yes, darkness is truth. But light is also truth. Kindness and honesty are truth, and they can be your truth with just a little bit of integrity and courage.
You are in control of your life if you just take it.
As a writer, these new revelations will find their way into my works, both fiction and nonfiction, and perhaps through the pain I will be one step closer to being worth of a comparison to Shakespeare.
“The rest is silence.”
this editor is compelled to thank Ms. Grey for her words and thoughts, and to add his own quote from W.S. on the nature of hope:
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
O.M.Grey dreams of the dark streets of London and the decadent deeds that occur after sunset. She dons a tight corset, a fluffy bustle, and a teeny-tiny top hat for fantasy conventions where she enjoys meeting fans and participating on panels. Olivia prefers to live in the cobwebbed corners of her dark mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist.
Her premiere Steampunk Paranormal Romance novel, Avalon Revisited is an Amazon.com Gothic Romance bestseller. She also writes short stories, relationship articles, and angsty poetry.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, tending the garden, or drinking a hot cup of tea.