I’ve been quite a few things in the short time I’ve experienced this life. I’ve been a sensitive boy, an abused child, a raging lunatic with a violent streak. I’ve been in trouble with the law, an altar boy drinking wine in the sacristy, a cheater, a liar, and a man afraid of who he was. Mostly, I’ve been an unhappy soul left foundering in a sea of his own despair, blaming everyone else for the suffering in my life.
I have memories of little bits of truth that came out through the bullshit. Like the time I secretly cried after a fight where I had knocked someone out. The time when my daughter was born and I felt love for what seemed like the very first time.
There were many instances of truth, but they scared me into grasping at the lies. I truly loathed who I was, and in that self-immolation I would try to be whomever you wanted me to be. I was, of course, doomed to failure.
A liar isn’t, in my experience, someone who gets off by lying. I just hated who I was when I was telling the truth. There is no moment of peace for the liar. In my case I relieved the voices of my youth always telling me I was not good enough, strong enough, handsome enough, fit enough, or tough enough to exist. I needed to be everything I was taught I wasn’t, so I lied.
One of my best friends reminds me often of my lying self. He tells a story of when we first met, and how much he hated me. I had created a shell of toughness, one that often instilled fear in those around me, one that often created the space I needed to exist in. I put out an energy that said, “fuck with me and I’ll hurt you”, with the size and swagger to back up that energy if you challenged me.
So, this man disliked me. Or rather he disliked the liar. Then, as he puts it, he talked to me. Somehow, some of my truth must have leaked through the cracks in the shell I had created. As a result I gained a friend, someone who’s been a trusted, beautiful person in my life for well over half of it.
Someone who I love dearly.
Someone I will always cherish.
A cheater isn’t always someone who gets off on cheating. In my case it made me sad beyond words. Yet, there was always that horrible fear I had in trusting someone else with my chastity, my faithfulness. I had seen people I trusted, those who were supposed to teach me things like love, chastity, faithfulness, and honesty do some of the most horrific things. I wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim, so I’d act out in ways I thought would give me control. Instead, I became an asshole, not to be trusted, and ruined some of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
And, yes, I played the victim. I was not, I was the victimizer who had grown a false strength through playing the victim. I thought I had an excuse when, in fact, all I really had was a choice.
It’s hard for me to write about these things given my current state of being. My life has changed so dramatically from then until now. I look back on the casual and not-so-casual debris that litters the fields on which I’ve walked and feel a tinge of sadness. Such sadness is only tempered by the realization that nothing in this life is permanent, especially when a man realizes his own power of choice, and the power of his own agreements.
A coward is not always a coward. Sometimes he just needs to find something to fight for. Similarly, misdirected people are not always misdirected. Sometimes we can finally take the compass out of our pocket and find our true direction. At some point and time the voices that send us off on wild goose chases can be replaced by our own strong, steady voice and our choices reflect the power in our purpose, the strength in our hearts, and the truth of our being.
All of us are, after all, liars. We hide feelings that make us vulnerable, or temper our opinions in the fear of offending others. We choose to wear suits when all we want is to put on sweats, or heels when all we want is a good pair of slippers. We stay in relationships that no longer serve us, often catering to voices not our own, trying desperately to make them happy.
Which begs a question. Do we even trust ourselves? Are we so busy wondering if we can trust the other person that we’ve lost sight of the fact that we no longer trust ourselves? Have we become so accustomed to hearing the voices of others in our head that we no longer hear our own?
How many of us have caved to a fear later proven unjustified? How many of us have fallen in love and never told the object of our affection? How many of us never even board a plane to jump out of, even though free-falling through the air is all we can think about? How many of us tell ourselves that we have no choice but to work for the bastard who refuses to pay us what we are worth, or that women deserve less money than men, or that all blacks must be doing something wrong to be harassed by the police?
I know, I am getting off on a tangent. I guess my point in doing so is to show us all that not one of us can truly throw a stone at an accused, and that not one of us lives in a house completely devoid of glass.
That’s not to say we must keep liars and cheaters in our lives, or maintain an abusive relationship with a liar and cheater because we, too, are liars. Instead, we must do what is best for us out of pure love for ourselves and, yes, for the person lying and cheating. They may, like me, have to lose everything in order to gain the truth of who they are. Suffering is a wonderful springboard to great things if we simply choose to focus less on the suffering, and more on the lessons that suffering is there to provide.
There is hope. If I can transform from a lying cheater into a man of principle and honesty anyone can. It’s about self-love. I love myself so much that I see nothing wrong with my truth. In fact, I see each example of fear that predated this transformation as something that was completely necessary, something I needed to experience for some purpose yet to be uncovered. I can’t change anything I’ve ever done. All I can do is understand what purpose the experience brought into my life, and what I should do with the lessons I have learned.
Remember, all of us are transformed from perfect, loving, honest babies into something else. If this is true, we can transform those parts of us that make us unhappy simply by choosing to and then practicing something different.
Today, when I am told I’m an asshole, it’s for a far different reason than in the past. I’m usually too honest, and people often don’t want to hear the truth or the way I offer it. I have not yet learned the subtle art of telling the truth without giving someone a blade to cut themselves, but I am trying. I don’t mean for my words, my thoughts, or my truth to hurt you, and I realize I can’t. All I can do is be me, what you decided to do with that is your business.
I am, yours, in complete honesty and truth. I’m mastering my own voice, not yours, so the process is a bit new to most, especially the easily offended. Still, I trust in the journey, and realize all I ever need do is tell the truth of me in the moment. There is great power there.