Friday, May 13, 2011

Broken Hearts And Lying To Yourself

I lied to a girl once. True story. My fraternity was doing a carwash to earn money for our formal and she and I were chosen to stand out on the island between the lanes of traffic and were given the task of enticing drivers to come let our friends wash their cars. After a few hours of standing in the hot summer sun we started to get tired and our antics slowed down dramatically. Eventually we sat down and from there on we were in constant physical contact with each other. It was nothing sexual, just that we were sitting back to back and then side to side facing different directions but we always maintained some sort of touching. Not a lot of words were exchanged mainly because they just didn't seem necessary. What we felt was a natural comfortness with each other and a kind of tranquil peace. It just felt right.

When it was time to drive back to Tahlequah we were in the back seat together and I was feeling the effects of too much sun so she had me lay my head in her lap. We were still feeling our connection and she spent her time running her fingers through my hair. Again, it was all very comfortable and natural and we were at peace. Once we got to her house she started to get out and I wanted her to wait so that I could say something to her about where we should go from there but she pulled away from me and said that she couldn't, that she had to go. Naturally I was confused and couldn't help noticing that my good mood had turned rather quickly from peace and contentment to frustration and distress.

Two days later I was at our table in the cafeteria when she came for lunch and sat down across from me. She wanted to explain what had happened and why our parting was so abrupt. First she started by telling me how special I had made her feel, as if she were the most beautiful woman on the planet and how wonderful the day had been for her and that was the problem. Basically the story was that she lived with her boyfriend in his house and really didn't have anyplace else to go. Even though she wasn't happy with him she didn't think it was fair or just for her to live in his house and start something with me on the side no matter how right or good it felt. Faced with a decision choosing between the safety of her living situation with a man who seemed to just be there and another who made her feel different than any other she chose the safe route. She chose him.

As I sat there stunned and in confusion, my mind grasped at anything it could find to make it appear that I was okay and that nothing was wrong. So I lied to her. I mumbled a story about how she was mistaken about my intentions and that I was her friend and had only wanted her to feel good and that there was nothing else to it. I knew then that it was a poor attempt and that she saw through it immediately for what it was but I wanted nothing more than to hide my pain. It was really a pathetic attempt at lessening this public embarrassment. My guts had been ripped out and my heart was rapidly sinking lower and lower and all I wanted to do was get away from there, to get away from her so that she couldn't see the anguish that was leaking through my resolve and becoming visible in my expression.

I lied and kept on lying to myself every day after that until the hurt started to lessen and eventually go away. When you open yourself up to someone and they don't return your feelings for whatever reason it can be crushing to your soul and ego. For me it was especially damning because I had a very poor self image and absolutely no faith in myself ever finding love. I just wasn't good enough for someone to love and her reaction seemed as validation that what I felt about myself was correct and true and that realization made my self opinion sink even lower than it had been before. It boggled my mind that a person could feel something special, something better than she had ever felt before and know in her heart that I would never do anything to hurt her like her boyfriend had and yet still choose him. The only plausible reason that I could find was that there was indeed something wrong with me, that I was lacking in some characteristic that would enable someone to love me.

She chose the safety of her situation and I chose to bury my feelings deep inside where I wouldn't have to face them. Maybe it was fear of the unknown on or the fear of sharing a real connection on her part. I have no way of knowing. Not long after that we stopped talking altogether and drifted away from each other and went our separate ways. I take no consolation in knowing that this experience was part of what made me who I am today, for better or worse. We'll never know what could have happened and that's the way life is. Not everything gets closure. Not everything ends happily. They say that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger but I think that it can also make you weaker, at least if you keep on lying to yourself.

Published by Don Leach

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