In the eighth grade I went for a haircut and a friend called to ask how it turned out. “I love it! It’s great!” I shared.
When I got off the phone my mom told me it was impolite to be so boastful about one’s appearance. I was raised to be nauseatingly polite, often sacrificing truth for niceties.
“Sure you can have the last chicken wing. (Even though I was about to reach for it.)”
“Yes, I’ll drive you home. (Even though I never go that way and I don’t feel like it.)”
“Absolutely, we can see that movie. (Even though it holds zero interest for me.)”
The problem with all of this harmless lying is this: I assume you’re all doing it too. I’ve stopped trusting people’s words and developed a habit of Jedi mind-reading situations where TELEPATHIC INSIGHT INTO WHAT’S REALLY BEING THOUGHT AND FELT might be required.
“I’ll help you pack.”
“PLEASE GOD DON’T TAKE ME UP ON THAT.”
“You’re not hideous.”
“You scare me.”
“Dinner is on me!”
“You’re an asshole who didn’t think of paying first.”
A special kind of crazy, right? What started out (seemingly) harmless, has become over-the-top dysfunctional.
My own “white lies” make it hard to believe in anything kind and good thrown my way. I was invited to a going away party and EMAILED TO CHECK IF MY INVITATION WAS A MISTAKE.
The mental energy it costs to consider all possible angles is ridiculous. Olympic-level brain gymnastics. In the desert. Wearing wool spandex.
I remember talking to a friend about this. She said her reason for trying to infer meaning came from fear of being made the fool. Looking silly for believing something untrue. Being a burden. I can relate. But… fuck it, man. If I’m going to let you believe I want to give you a ride when I don’t, I’m the asshole, not you.
I want to retire from speaking in the verbal equivalent of a muddled up rubik’s cube. Also, I’m done riddling-out your words. If you ask me out, I’m going to trust you want me there. If you invite my kid for a sleepover and offer to keep her until supper the next day, I’m going to believe it’s because you enjoy her. If I offer you a ride home, I want you to trust I’m cool driving you, because the times I’m not, I’ll say no.
This isn’t going to be easy; I’m a Blue. If you know anything about Colours (one of many personality inventories), you know blues hate to be hurt and hate to hurt (but moreso the BEING hurt). It’s all about feelings and intimacy and connecting and belonging. The thought of having my feelings hurt is so debilitating that I project that same stunted thinking onto you. As if not sharing your taste in movies or being busy when you spontaneously want to hang is SOUL CRUSHING.
“Your beliefs about your stupidity and brokeness run so deep that I don’t even relate, and I feel pretty broken.” This was part of a friend’s recent text message to me. The truth of it whipped around my amygdala like sperm in a petri dish. Being acutely aware of my brokeness makes me dizzy. I don’t want to be broken. And I don’t think I need to be.
I have to be in constant pursuit of health; it’s not one of my natural states.
I sent a new friend a text today: “Let’s start this friendship off right: No guessing. Just mean what we say and trust the other to do the same. If one of us slips up, THE OTHER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE TO TELEPATHICALLY KNOW. Yay for safe places.” She’s game.
I want to be a safe place. I want to say what I mean and worry less about hurt feelings. I want to be okay with being hurt and hurting for for the sake of authenticity. I want to surround myself with people I trust do the same.
I’m 38. It’s time to grow up.
Also: MY HAIR HAPPENS TO BE FUCKING FANTASTIC. Suck it, polite.
“I have learned that I would rather be maladroit, or even rude, than dishonest.” Lying by Sam Harris
“Lying is, almsot by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship. ” Lying by Sam Harris