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Writing Is Self-Betrayal

The deeper we dive into our subconscious, the more perverse we become.


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Buse Umur

3 years ago | 4 min read

I’ve recently found myself in a dark cave. Distasteful, ugly, dump, but promising. I looked for ways to get out of it. I began carving on its walls only to create a storyline out of my words. If writing is the only way to exit this cage, I’ll write, I murmured. Then and there, I recognized another person feeding on my bones, limbs, and soul. She needed to speak for who she was. Who was I then?

Although each of us has different motives for waking up to create stories regardless of the language we use, we share a common purpose at the end of the day. We write to discover our personality when we remain naked from our gender, racial, ethnic, class, and religious differences.

No matter how old we are, our complexity brings us together. Sometimes, a 40-year-old reader celebrates my vulnerability and confesses she learns from my experiences. On other days, a 16-year-old reader gives me a piece of advice that I need to heal myself.

We write to expose ourselves to a realm where geographical borders are imaginary, our sexual orientations don’t matter, and our cultural differences disappear.

Because we meet at the one and only crossroad that binds us all together — how fragile our hearts are and how they need stories to heal. It’s at this common point that people listen to us through our words, and even the arbitrary language remains insignificant since some hearts can understand one another in silence.

Though we don’t start writing with the hope that we’d have readers to listen to us, for we think our stories don’t matter, the sincere comments that come from our readers give us such an encouraging spark that we get excited to carve our walls.

I carved harder and faster with the blossoming hope that someone would care about my fragile words. When I realized I was betraying myself, I stopped for a second.

Who was this person talking through me? If it were the real me, then who was the person that my parents, lovers, friends, teachers, and society knew?

With every piece I wrote thereafter and every change I noticed in myself, I’ve betrayed myself more, carving the walls more violently. I’ve revealed my worst selves and betrayed my best ones.

Writing brought me closer to my inner self, desires, and dreams. Writing encouraged me to discover who I innately was in the artificiality of our modern world.

Yet, give those papers to someone who knows me, and they’ll be shocked thinking how I’ve become so perverse, how come they don’t know me anymore, and most importantly, how dare I?

What the society expected from me, who my parents supposed I was, how my lover assumed me suffocated my selfhood in the clothes they kept throwing at my body with an unwillingness to see me naked — only as a human being, not the heterosexual, female, Muslim, hardworking, and loving daughter.

I am more than these definitions — I like women as well, I don’t believe in religion, I want to be lazy spending my time unproductively, and honestly, I sometimes hate people.

These discoveries came up as I talked to myself on a piece of paper with the only audience being myself. There was no other party involved thus it was safe. There was no empathy needed hence it was easy.

My efforts to make myself heard became so exhausting that I gave up honest conversations and became a machine presenting what people wanted to hear, and they supposed to know me.

The version I talked to others became so dominant that I began to believe in it without even noticing. It suddenly became my self — an armor I wore to protect my inner self from prejudices and ignorant opinions, for I was a sensitive b*tch deep down.

It was when I began to write and create characters for my story that I realized they weren’t so fictional. All characters I wrote for stories were inspired by my multifaceted selves.

That’s why the most interesting friends we can ever have in life are those who write their stories elsewhere. We grab a coffee in the company of a huge slice of brownie and someone we think we know. Then we read her stories and notice we knew nothing of the person.

I meet these people at our common point that we become vulnerable and need to talk about the person(s) who inhabit under our skins. Here what matters is that we’re willing to expose our inner selves without fearing the consequences. Hence the cliched phrase, your story matters.

Not only because the world needs to hear it but also, perhaps most importantly, we need to speak up. How could we waste the beautiful being that lies in our chest otherwise?

When I first realized that writing is an act of self-betrayal, I felt at unease because seeing a diverse person under my flesh petrified me. As if I was reading my favorite novel over again and hearing its author say it’s not what I meant at all.

But, isn't it the most comforting part of reading? We give a whole different meaning to a story whose creator didn’t even think about. When we write, we don’t change our life’s story, either. We just discover a new interpretation. Whether we pursue our or others’ interpretation is up to us. But, neither invalidates our existence.

If writing is self-betrayal, let it be and let it dismantle every cell of our body. Let it rewrite our identity and make it perverse. If life is a journey, and we can reinscribe new meanings along the way, let them all be ours. We’ll keep betraying ourselves and recreating new ones until we feel at ease in our own flesh.

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Buse Umur

Buse Umur is an M.A. student of European, American, and Postcolonial Language and Literature at Ca’ Foscari University. Her research covers the female and postcolonial identity in contemporary English literature. She also writes about equality, culture, and feminism on Medium (@buseumur)


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