PROLOGUE: A DEED WITHOUT A NAME
This is so rude and shocking that I can hardly bear to write it down but write it I must, for I can keep it in no longer.
When I say, shocking, I mean, shocking to me, because it’s about me. If you didn’t know me, then you probably will think my warning preface is exaggerated. I’m hoping that you’ll tell me that my confession isn’t so unusual and shocking after all.
Well, maybe I’d like you to be a little shocked.
But…who are ‘you,’ anyway? Who am I writing this for?
‘We read to know we’re not alone,’ said a character in William Nicholson’s Shadowlands.
I think that we also write to know we’re not alone…in the hope that the very things we fear sharing will gain the approval and acceptance of a wider audience – particularly those things which we cannot share with anyone that we actually know.
This is meant to be utterly secret, this notebook I’m starting, but is there always the knowledge, even the desire, that one’s words will not remain forever unseen. There’s a catharsis in writing, a release… the need to express oneself, and even a slightly vain self consciousness – especially where one writes one’s own story. As Matthew Arnold said of Jane Eyre, the author is in dialogue with oneself.
There’s almost a mission about writing – there is for me. I hope not only to help myself, but that my writing may somehow encourage and liberate someone else who is going through this. The fact that this confession may resonate with others is comfort enough.
I think that I’m alone now, and hope to remain undisturbed. I am so afraid of this being found – or even of admitting this to myself – that I still hesitate. The secret involves someone not so very far away – and I could be discovered at any minute.
This seems such an odd place to make such a revelation – both incongruent and ironic. If I tell you (my imaginary collective audience) that I am in a convent, on our church retreat weekend, what I am about to say will seem even worse.
If I told you that I am in love with a member of the clergy – that sounds kind of honourable, doesn’t it? But wait – is it a priest? you ask, knowing that such a relationship is forbidden.
Yes, consummation of this love is prohibited. But I’m not Catholic, so I don’t believe in celibacy for men of the cloth. I may have to believe in celibacy for other reasons.
If I say that I’m in love with my vicar, that sounds shocking, doesn’t it – in a juicy gossip sort of way – but not wicked. Unless he is married.
I can confirm that is not the case. There is not anything in status nor age difference that would make this match controversial.
But we couldn’t ever wed.
We couldn’t have a proper legal Christian wedding in this country.
Isn’t that ironic: a vicar can’t marry in a church?!
Someone’s at the door. Help! Where can I hide this?