If I am fascinated by lies, I have equal antipathy for the truth.
We have such a bitter image of the truth; it’s cold, hard, and brutal. Even so, we think we want it, that the emotional turmoil that comes from learning the truth is worth the pain. “Because I’d want to know” is one of the most common motives for coming clean, the belief that we’re better off operating with accurate information when it comes to making decisions.
I don’t think that’s wrong, but I empathize with those who create intricate alternate realities through their lies to avoid getting hurt. The truth might set you free, but it can drive you insane.
People who are intolerant of falsehood seem like they’re fooling themselves into thinking they have some superiority over the gullible, when in fact all they’re doing is marinating themselves in pain. Some level of deception, at the very least self deception, is required to begin anything that’s difficult. Believing you have talent tends to hold you over as you hone a skill. There wouldn’t be a point in trying to develop it other wise. The truth is sterile; it breeds little imagination. We don’t daydream about what’s real, we lie to ourselves because lies are rife with possibility. Maybe that’s how we achieve the extraordinary, believing a lie into existence.
I don’t see falsehood as such a packageable thing any more. For one, our brains are champions of not working the way we want and we fool ourselves via logical fallacies and cognitive bias, and no matter how self aware or well read you consider yourself, it’s still likely to happen to you. We’re influenced by other, equally malleable people. It’s tough to consider undeniable truth, which is why we turn to the verification of facts and knowledge; you can know knowledge, but you can’t know any certain truth.
It’s both frustrating and freeing to know that the boundaries are fluid. To me, It’s harder to write about honesty because honesty is, ironically, a trickier concept. Lies need a purpose. Truth doesn’t. Truth simply exists with the burden of interpretation left to our skittish little minds. In the moment, the truth, to me, is a yes or no question, and the answer depends entirely on desired result. If I think I’ll spare someone’s feelings and I don’t anticipate any particular backlash, I’m more than willing to lie. It’s force of habit at this point.
Things are seldom just true or just false, and I think that kind of finite dualism is a luxury of the naive. For the most part, we run ourselves ragged trying to align events into one of these camps but always end up somewhere in the middle. Lie to yourself long enough, and you’re stuck believing them like it really happened.
I’ve had to face some hard truths about myself. I hate them and I’m skilled enough at lying to myself and others that I could turn the truth into a memory that will rot off in my mind, separate and unimportant to everything else. Here’s where I admit the truth and stare at it for awhile.
I cheated on Jay. That’s one of those sentences I rewrote a few times, hoping to make it vague, insightful, or somehow less painful. But the truth doesn’t lend itself to those things, does it?
I never saw myself as the kind of person to do something like that, and the real joke is that somehow my self perception remains the same. In my mind, I’m not a cheater, whatever that means to me, despite the fact that I know, understand, and admit that that’s something I’ve done.
By my counts, I did this four times; one was some sick (and retrospectively, very degrading) view that if it were a woman, it wouldn’t be cheating. Another was a bout of loneliness when we lived in different cities ,and one, which I considered the most dangerous, never got physical; it was a purely emotional connection that got much deeper and important to me than I anticipated. The very last time, which is what ended our relationship, was a bit of both.
In all of those situations, there were moments of clarity where I could have bowed out, I simply chose not to. Not because I didn’t love Jay, either. I don’t know if I’d correlate any time I cheated with a time where we were also rock solid, but he was always first and in my mind. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I wanted to do it anyway. Maybe I simply lack self control, or was drunk and easily led. Maybe it’s more complicated. Doesn't matter if you justify it or not, it happened.
The only thing that pacified my guilt about doing these things was that I was pretty honest about them immediately. I never had any prolonged secret affair. Well, not physically anyway. the ones that I considered dangerous were the ones that I suppose did have that element; because if nothing physical was going on I didn’t see the need to stop doing it, or tell Jay. So they grew into these confusing things that I don’t think anyone involved knew how to handle.
Some could read this and pity him, think he got walked on by an asshole and wonder why he’d put up with it. Could he have just left? Sure, but he was hurting, I’m manipulative as fuck and it’s not like he wanted things to be terrible. None of those things on his part are character flaws, they’re circumstances. It’s pretty easy to see how liars and cheaters get away with what they do. Being duped doesn’t make you foolish, it means you believe in the good in people, people you love. It’s not your fault that sometimes that belief winds up as you lying to yourself.
As for my motives, I don’t know if I could honestly tell you. I’ve read some articles where men cheat for the excitement and women cheat because they desire emotional fulfillment they’re lacking in their present relationship. I feel like it was both and neither. I did what I did because I wasn’t thinking about the consequences; at least I wasn’t thinking they were anything I couldn’t talk my way out of, erego, if I were patient, there were no consequences. I did it because I could. Fucked up, sure, but that’s honesty for you. I like to push things, to see how far I can take them, to see what’s dangerous, to see how close I can get to someone. I struggle with feeling connected to people and often I find myself isolated and lonely even around my good friends. That gnawing feeling drives you pretty insane, and you look for anything to make it stop.
If you’re curious, cheating is just a stopgap; it won’t really stop that emptiness inside you, but you can convince yourself that at the very least you’re being proactive about it. It’s hard for me to believe anyone who does that doesn’t hate themselves at least a little for doing it. I sure do. If you're even moderately functional I don't think you willfully practice hurting someone's feelings.
I’m at the point now where I don’t really know what I want from someone else. I have this incredibly strong sense of emptiness and longing, but I don’t really know what action another person has to take to make it better. You can’t really start off a conversation with “MAKE ME FEEL WHOLE AGAIN!” and somehow expect a result. The reason Jay lasted as long as he did was he effectively answered that question with, “Okay, how?”
Most likely this question is going to be answered with the movie trope, “The answer is in you all along” or some bullshit like that. No one can love you until you love yourself, blah, blah blah. I don’t really have a response for that. I see very few people who aren’t insecure about themselves, sometimes at least. Even so, until I have some sense of control over that seething void, I'm not willing to get close to anyone. It's not even as noble as not wanting to hurt anybody; I'd like it to be, but this is the one about honesty, not the one about lies. Getting close to somebody who you think can take care of or fix you only gets brutal and messy once you both realize you can't save someone from themselves. Ironically, being alone is just self preservation in the face of loneliness.
So is that the truth? I do things I know are wrong because I don’t like myself, and I think I can get away with it? What kind of sense does that make? And by knowing that, does that make the truth malleable, do I have control over it, or how much?
If there's any benefit to the truth, it's that it provides a level of certainty. I don't really have that quality in anything in my life, and the more stable something is the more inclined I am to rip it to pieces. Chaos is easier to maintain; that's physics. I don't really know what to do with being the kind of person I am, but I guess it's my job in life to figure that out, no one else is going to...
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.