the possibility of life between us

1 Jan

I love a man and he is a man who has not always been truthful. He has hurt me because of this. A lot. More than I could at first explain. It is turmoil, it is like being hanged upside down, it is like being on a ship at storm. I feel the nausea, physically and really feel it, in the pit of my stomach.

I have compassion for inability to tell the full truth. The things we revile after all are those that lay deep seated in our own hearts. Too often we make our sins taboo, pretend they don’t exist within us. We shun
sinners and think if we can only stay away from them we will never have to be the same.

But it does hurt, to be around, and years have passed and I still find myself unable to fully trust. I am not as receptive to his words as I once was. It is draining, for both of us. I find I have to hide my mistrust and it is like an endless infinite rebound, a downward slippery spiral I have yet to figure out how to climb out of. Sometimes I resent him for this distrust that I grapple with, for the fact that he doesn’t know what I have to hide from him now too, to avoid hurting him, the way he did with me. I resent him for not appreciating that. And then I despair that I will just end up hurting him more and more.

These stupid loops. And sometimes it feels like it has all gone, completely, and then it just comes right back.

But no matter what I say or how hard I cry and how bad sometimes I just want to run away, I find deep down I want to be here and I want to work this out with him. I love him, or I am trying to?

I think it is maybe too that I believe it is ourselves we cannot escape, and we will find ourselves in everything and anything, and everything and anything is in ourselves, if we had the courage to stick around and just be. This is dangerously mystical but yes I think that is what it is, just the Love inside me.

I think too that maybe he is trying to be more open and transparent. Sometimes I really and truly feel this and see this. I feel he might be trying to be honest, but it is my very instincts about his truthfulness that I have had to question before, so I am not sure what could change that fully now. How to break out?

It is a leap of faith I need to take yes, but I don’t know how to scale it. Maybe that is the whole point. To jump in blindly yadayadaya.

Nothing terrifies me more, after what I had to go through.

Adrienne Rich has an essay: ‘Women and Honour: Notes on Lying” . They are just a bunch of notes, but they are absolutely devastating, in the best of ways. I’m not a literary critic so I can only talk of what it did for me.

I was astounded by how the notes are filled with compassion towards a liar, and yet how they are still cuttingly precise about just what it is that a liar loses, and what it is that (s)he takes away from those around. Adrienne’s reasons and context for writing about lies are completely different than my struggle with this man, and yet, they apply just as completely.

When I stumbled upon Adrienne’s notes months after I had found out this man had girlfriend I had no clue about, I started to tremble. I was so touched by what I read I could not even cry, could barely swallow. I just sat there and savored the words over and over again. I wanted to clutch the book from which I was reading, clutch it right to my chest, to my very soul. It is like someone had come in and said it, just that, just what I felt, just what I wanted to say. I wanted to read them to him.

Here are some extracts, which I respectfully place here and hope she will not mind:

We take so much of the universe on trust. You tell me: “In 1950 I lived on the north side of Beacon Street in Somerville.” You tell me: “She and I were lovers, but for months now we have only been good friends.” You tell me: “It is seventy degrees outside and the sun is shining.” Because I love you, because there is not even a question of lying between us, I take these accounts of the universe on trust: your address twenty-five years ago, your relationship with someone I know only by sight, this morning’s weather. I fling unconscious tendrils of belief, like slender green threads, across statements such as these, statements made so unequivocally, which have no tone or shadow of tentativeness. I build them into the mosaic of my world. I allow my universe to change in minute, significant ways, on the basis of things you have said to me, of my trust in you.

I also have faith that you are telling me things it is important I should know; that you do not conceal facts from me in an effort to spare me, or yourself, pain.

Or, at the very least, that you will say, “There are things I am not telling you.”

When we discover that someone we trusted can be trusted no longer, it forces us to reexamine the universe, to question the whole instinct and concept of trust. For a while, we are thrust back onto some bleak, jutting ledge, in a dark pierced by sheets of fire, swept by sheets of rain, in a world before kinship, or naming, or tenderness exist; we are brought close to formlessness.

The liar may resist confrontation, denying that she lied. Or she may use other language: forgetfulness, privacy, the protection of someone else. Or, she may bravely declare herself a coward. This allows her to go on lying, since that is what cowards do. She does not say, I was afraid, since this would open the question of other ways of handling her fear. It would open the question of what is actually feared.

She may say, I didn’t want to cause pain. What she really did not want is to have to deal with the other’s pain. The lie is a short-cut through another’s personality.

Truthfulness, honor, is not something which springs ablaze of itself; it has to be created between people.

The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire. The complexity and fecundity of poetry come from the same struggle.

An honorable human relationship–that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love”–is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in so doing we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

And here is my favourite part:

The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life. The liar is someone who keeps losing sight of these possibilities.

When relationships are determined by manipulation, by the need for control, they may possess a dreary, bickering kind of drama, but they cease to be interesting. They are repetitious; the shock of human possibilities has ceased to reverberate through them. When someone tells me a piece of the truth which has been withheld from me, and which I needed in order to see my life more clearly, it may bring acute pain, but it can also flood me with a cold, sharp wash of relief. Often such truths come by accident, or from strangers.

It isn’t that to have an honorable relationship with you, I have to understand everything, or tell you everything at once, or that I can know, beforehand, everything I need to tell you.

It means that most of the time I am eager, longing for the possibility of telling you. That these possibilities may seem frightening, but not destructive, to me. That I feel strong enough to hear your tentative and groping words. That we both know we are trying, all the time, to extend the possibilities of truth between us.

The possibility of life between us.

I still feel that lump in my throat, that trembling when I read this now. The truth, knowing the truth, uncovering the truth, understanding the truth – this is what moves me through my life. Truth is God to me and God is Truth. It is my religion you could say, as extreme as that sounds. It is my passion and my reason for being. I betray my passion all the time. But it is what I hold in the sky and what I look up toward and what I hope will guide me.

If I could bring myself to ask him the questions, it would not be: is this-or-that thing you said true?

It would be: Do you hold the truth as sacred as I do? Are you eager to share it with me, even when scared? Not just for me or others, but for yourself?

And I would say: I promise to try and open again for you, and to have the strength to hear you.


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