Under the dim light of the overhead lamp, I asked her the same question I’ve asked forty eleven billion times in the past seven days.
For the love of God, why did he take me home from the bar?
I caught the slightest flinch in her pretty brown eyes, an anticipation of my reaction, perhaps half a second- nearly imperceptible- before she replied.
Because you’re fucking hot and the sex is great.
It hung in the air there for a moment, and I wanted so badly to argue, to give a thousand tiny reasons why it just couldn’t be that simple. I really only had one I was willing to own at that point.
But he could have found another pretty girl and taken her home, a girl that wasn’t so complicated, a situation that wouldn’t have required any damage control…
She cut me off, the way a mother rips a band-aid to spare you the agony of a slow pull.
He didn’t think about that until it was too late.
I wanted to argue with her, but doing so would have created a dissonance even I cannot maintain. She filled that empty space with the same words everyone else has, but hers lacked the same softness of pity.
He isn’t who you think he is, he can’t give you what you want, you can do so much better, you deserve so much more.
And then, then she said what no one else had the nerve to. Which is one of the many reasons I cherish her friendship.
You created the man you fell in love with in your mind. You filled in the gaps with what you wanted to see there. It isn’t there. That man only exists in your head. He isn’t real. If the man that you’re so in love with actually existed, we would not be sitting here having this discussion. Please tell me you understand what I’m saying. I need to know that you realize this.
I nodded, horrified at the realization, and still more horrified at the words rising in my throat like bile. My desire to defend him, to explain our complicated history, to stand up for him, to tally the long list of my own faults and missteps- I choked it back like vomit and let her words sink in.
As the night wore on clarity settled in like frost, bringing stark relief to the texture of everything: the good memories, the bad memories, the fact that he tells people that he loves “that woman” but disappeared without warning or explanation because he couldn’t say it to me, the warnings and condolences of our closest mutual friends, his incorrigible habit of reminiscing whenever our paths crossed last year. The odd comment or two that I never could give any context, the way that he opened that once-closed door three weeks ago for a night, and the way that he slowly and carefully shut it again, so that by the time I heard the click of the lock in the frame I could do nothing but lay against it and writhe with heartache.
The last time he broke my heart I was nearly catatonic with shame and self-loathing; convinced as I was that I had some fatal flaw, that I was unworthy of love, that I had destroyed my destiny with expectation and grasping.
At three-thirty this morning, after so many in a row that it feels normal again, and I get antsy when my morning glories linger in the hallways, I am still mired in shame.
The difference is that I now very clearly understand that I carried this delusion- the war between fear and love- into every single involvement I’ve had since he first kissed me under that streetlight.
I’ve made some incredibly poor decisions regarding the feelings of others and my own safety in some kind of twisted game of emotional chicken, and for that I couldn’t be more ashamed.
As my little sister often says, the truth can only kill that which is unjust.
She’s awfully wise for her years.
So am I, and I’m here to tell you:
The worst lies are not the ones that someone else tells you, or even the ones that you’ve told someone else.
The most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
January 31, 2012 7 Comments