There are some relationships that can only be maintained by agreeing to lie, omit, reframe, delete, deny, pretend. I mean ones where this agreement is a prerequisite for the relationship itself. I have been forced to oblige in some cases, with my father and a few other close family members.
It was always hard for me, but it is unsustainable now, the requirement that I continue to suppress my true feelings to maintain the illusion of love. Maybe it’s my artistic fucking temperament, I don’t know. Understanding my feelings and dealing with them is of supreme importance to my life. My health suffers, my sleep turns unrestful, if the requirement of a relationship is pretending that I’m wrong to feel whatever it is I am feeling, no matter how precisely and reasonably I can describe those feelings.
Beyond that, we all know in our hearts that a feeling itself cannot be wrong. It is truly what we feel, whether we deny it or embrace it. We may feel hurt based on a misunderstanding sometimes, and it’s always a relief to work that out afterwards when it happens that way, but the hurt we felt is just as real, even after we understand we felt that way based on an incomplete understanding. The feeling itself often disappears once we learn more about why we felt hurt. A mistaken feeling can be neutralized by the truth, a beautiful thing.
Pain, unbearable, terrifying pain, causes people to lie. I understand that. Shame and humiliation cause people to blame others for their pain. I’ve seen it up close, when I was too hurt to see anything else. It is a bad place to be. Doing it reflexively is a childish way to live
To me, reducing the world to this flat, dry, one choice right or wrong place is a kind of death. My father stated it succinctly and poignantly, hours before he died “if only I hadn’t seen the world as black and white, winners vs. losers. I think now of how much richer my life would have been if I’d allowed myself to see all the colors, all the nuance of this beautiful world.” The poor guy was dead a few hours after expressing this. More tragic words are hard for me to conjure at the moment.
The personal, of course, is also political. If you defer to tyrannical demands in your personal life — act like you were never hurt, no matter what — you will be apt to do the same when it comes to political choices. You compensate by pretending to be the hardest hard-ass in the world. You accept one lie and the next, and feel righteous in your anger, blaming others for complicated mutual dilemmas. You can wear a red baseball cap and passionately claim that the elected president is a fraud, an imposter, a lying puppet of some sick, dangerous people. And your life is great, because you’re not a fucking loser.
The demand that you deny your own feelings launches you directly into an incoherent, intellectually indefensible world. Everything becomes a reflex to deny, oppose, prevail. Accede to this demand, accepting as true the opposite of what you deeply feel, and you cease to exist as an agent of your own heart. You were hurt? YOU WERE NOT! You are confused? NO, YOU ARE NOT. You feel misunderstood? NO, YOU DO NOT. In the end everything you feel is reframed to something else, all problems are yours alone and can only be resolved by pretending they’ll resolve themselves if you ignore them. Does it make sense? Who cares?
To which an artistic, self-expressing fuck like me can only say “fuck that.” It is no way to live. You can do it short term, to weather some emergency, maybe, but as a long-term plan for love or friendship, it sucks its own crusty ass.