Saturday, December 09, 2000

White lies



It's so easy to tell white lies. I think we learn it early on as children, "Fine. School went fine today, mom." Never mind that two of the other kids were throwing rocks at me on the playground, and I had snuck around behind them and beaned one in the back of the head mercilessly, landing us all in the principles office and escalating an ongoing feud. The fact is that you tell mom that sort of thing, and you know she'll get all upset and have to deal with her, and it's just so much easier to lie so she won't worry and you can get back to the important business of watching cartoons. And it really is fine, nothing I can't handle, right.

Then you grow up and go through a few adult relationships. Friendships, girlfriends, business partners. So many occasions arise that inspire the same behavior, lying to assuage their fears, and to keep you out of trouble. And sure, you can usually still rationalize it, nothing I can't handle, nothing they need to know that might make them think badly of me. But really, life is so short, what is the advantage to be gained by this deception? Some small advantages may be there on the short term, but there are long term effects, and they're not small and they're very personal. The first effect is that the people that are closest to you don't believe you, either because the facts contradict what you've said, or more often because people can intuit when you're not being genuine; so the people you were deceiving, maybe so they would like you, end up thinking you vile. But the second effect is even worse. Isolation. Nobody knows the real you, nobody knows the struggles you're going through, because you haven't disclosed them. Even the people you want more than anything to be close to you, to know, you just waste their time and yours by exaggeration, by obfuscating the truth, by feeding them bullshit when you could be confronting reality, even if ugly, with them. And for what? To get back to whatever trivialities you're juggling and away from the dangerous truth?

It's a horrible way to live. There's no integrity. There're no deep relationships. I was that way for a long time. I used to lie to people so they wouldn't think badly of me. To protect myself from getting hurt. So I'd be liked. But it was horrible. I always wondered what it was about me that kept me apart, kept me from being close with others, kept me alone. I got bit, hard, and over a long period of time. Hurt and loneliness stemming from a desire to avoid hurt. Distance from the ones you care about caused by your white lies. And why was I wasting time this way? Didn't I know that I and everyone I know was going to be dead in a laughably short blink of lifetimes?

So, in the depths of this sort of self induced misery, I vowed to be honest with the ones I cared about, and see what happened. Amusing that I would be spending most of this time with B and J, two opposite sides of this spectrum. B is an inspiring figure of critical honesty, with himself and with others. The boy just doesn't lie or exaggerate. (Or, if he does, he's got everyone fooled.) This isn't to say he's open, he's very private with his emotions, an INTP through and through, but the words that do come out are not a waste of time because they always seem to correlate well with reality (sigh, even if that reality is just bitching about his coworkers). And J, she had it worse than me unfortunately. Sad that the girl I would try to heal with, the girlfriend I would really strive to be totally honest with, would share my affliction only cranked to a higher level.

So what happened? Well, B seems still to tolerate me as a friend, even if he does think I'm an unreasonably selfish bastard. And J and I, we broke up. She fell in love with me, and wanted me to love her more than anything, but I couldn't. It just didn't happen, because I'd get these feelings holding back because it didn't seem like she was being completely genuine, like she was in the same pattern described above, only possibly worse because it seemed like she was often telling these white lies to herself. So, as much as I enjoyed her affection, and as amazed as I was that she cared about me so much even though I was being honest with her, we split up. Because she wanted someone to love her, and I couldn't do it. (And it appears, not too surprisingly as she's awfully hot, someone else recently stepped in to give her what she said she wanted.) Funny, seems a familiar pattern for me, only I'm on the other side now. So how does it feel after a year or so of this? I'm still pretty miserable actually, but at least I feel a bit better about my behavior.

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