I have never been as skilled a liar as you. To lie freely and without consequence is an asset I wish I possessed, but, after 20 years on this Earth, I know it is not a talent of mine. I was raised to be honest and warned of the slippery slope a false word could send me down. My father took the time to speak out against the dangers of lying, to tell me how my mother was a liar. Meanwhile, my mother was an advocate for lying, as a tool; and despite her ways of living, she denounced my father for the dishonest man he was. All the while, they fought for my belief that one of them was the cross bearing patron saint of truth.
Neither my mother, nor my father, believed my fibs as a child. Liars are excellent at recognizing their own. On the occasion I would leave out a minor detail about a slumber party, or forget to do a chore, I would try to cover, and then instantaneously crack under the pressure of a “Really?”
When lying, I fidget and fumble over my words, as my face blotches in a spectrum of crimson to violet. I blurt unbelievable circumstances and immediately regret whatever slipped my tongue. The guilt is visible on my face as I blink a few times and swallow. My conscience is weak. I could never (and still can’t) sleep a full night knowing I had been blatantly dishonest with someone.
But lies can be more than words. My father told me more times than I can count, that a lie of omission is the most dangerous of all lies because it was a lifestyle. It was a lie designed for cowards, thus, the perfect lie for me. I learned to mask my scheming with silence—forget the names of boys at the all girls party, lose a test I didn’t ace, fail to mention that I was going to break curfew, and pretend I wasn’t wrong in doing so. I may not have told lies, but I collected them. I clung to them. And I was so hopeful because of them: for if you don’t speak your faults or fears aloud, it’s almost as if they never existed.
And this is where you enter. I loved you most, more than my parents, more than any friend I had ever stumbled upon. I could never tell a lie to you—and I never did. In fact, I told you everything. I let you in. Built a home around you and parked my car in its driveway. My flaws, my past, my hopes were yours for the taking. You almost knew it all. You could have known it all, too. Until the first time you lied to me.
You lied about everything from hating French fries to your sexual exploits. The trivial stuff. The not-so-trivial stuff. It was all fair game. You could only let me in so far. An occasional night in bed together with two bottles of moscato. A dinner date that left me in my foyer crying as soon as you were gone. The summers that turned to winters, the weekends that turned to day trips, and the nights that turned to mornings where the sheets next to me were once warm, all ended too soon. You had a life without me. You have a life without me. I let you. I didn’t care that I couldn’t keep my toothbrush on the sink, so long as I was a fraction of a fragment of your dazzling existence. So many times I begged and pleaded for truth. For you to stop hurting me. For the relationship to be easy just for once, god damn it. I left you when I hurt. I came back to you when I was numb. Time and time again.
There was never complacence or indifference with you. Being with you was complete ambivalence. I never felt happy to be in your arms—I was ecstatic. I never stifled a tear and blotted my eyes when I learned you lied to me again—I collapsed upon myself. I cannot place a word for the unadulterated bliss I was wrapped in to find you still sleeping next to me on those chilly mornings. Although I can place a word for when I decided to leave you for the last time: truth.
I told myself for over two years that you loved me completely, because you said you did. I believed you, because you said you did. And you did say you loved me, down to the very last time we spoke. But, we were not love. A relationship built on lies and emotional thrills is neither the love we need nor deserve. Love should not be flawless, no. It most certainly should not be effortless. Love needs energy and cooperation to grow. But we did not need effort: we needed trust. For no matter how hard we worked at it, I could never believe you again.
I wanted to see you, but I was not going to have you drive an hour to my apartment for one last night together, only to forget me as soon as your keys were in the ignition the next day. I called you. I was shaking. Muttering. I was ready to end the lies. I choked on tears, literally, when I told you. I was scared of the truth. I asked why it was my punishment to hurt both of us every time you hurt me, but it was only my cowardice talking. You made me repeat myself over and over again until I clearly spoke the truth: “I can’t be with you anymore.” As soon as the last word was out you said “goodbye.” We have not spoken since.
The lies that stifled our love were those I told to myself. The omissions. Everything I tried my best to believe despite the glaring truth in my face. When I looked at you, I wanted to see the sweet, incorruptible boy I met so many years ago. Now that you are gone, I see you for who you are. And that person is someone I truly do not know. I was plagued by the naïve hope that people could change, the desperation to believe each word you said no matter how hard it was, the belief that you could love me completely. I idealized you for who you once were. I was a fool. I was a liar. I was a hypocrite. Then again, liars deserve each other. I am not a liar anymore, for that sentence that took all of my might to utter set me free. And I can say for the first time, that I don’t deserve you. I deserve someone as bold as the truth.
Loving you was not a lie. Believing you could love me the way I loved you, was.