Bear with me a moment, cause things might get complicated.
It’s entirely possible two smart, worldly, and mostly kind people could walk away from a shared experience with radically different interpretations of what happened. Think of it like eye-witness testimony. Did you know out of 239 cases overturned by DNA evidence, 73 percent of the false convictions were based on eyewitness testimony?1 Not exactly a winning record.
We can agree experience is subjective. There is no standard lens through which we all view the world. In effect, most of the time, we see what we look for.
But the truth is the truth – even when we pretend like it is not. Someone recently told me, “I think when you choose not to speak the truth, you open a crack that can destroy anything”.
Now let me be clear, I love the truth. Yet, I do not always tell the truth. I try to avoid outright lies, but I have a tendency to lie by omission or tell lies I rationalize as justifiable and in the best interest of all parties. Lying for The Greater Good – if you will.
Deception expert Paul Ekman has posited humans tell on average 3 lies in every 10 minutes of conversation. We are in essence, a society of liars.
Which makes separating truth from fiction nearly impossible.
Armed with this knowledge, let’s return to our two mostly kind people and see if we can uncover the truth.
Now, one of these two people is binary in nature. She makes decisions quickly and is either on or off. All in or all out. She doesn’t suffer fools and as a result tends to move quickly from one relationship to the next – often triangulating. Ironically, she is fiercely loyal.
The second character in our tragedy is also loyal, often putting his friend’s needs above his own. He enjoys the role of savior and revels in playing the white knight. He’s been hurt too many times, so he moves slowly in relationships.
Sometimes she wonders if she knows him better than he knows himself? He has told her he’s never let anyone get this close to him before. Only to retract that statement later as the late night ramblings of a drunken man. This stings her, so she shuts down.
He breaks her heart. He doesn’t mean to. But her heart is broken none the less.
She has heard the best way to get over someone, is to get under someone new. In our modern world casual intimacy is one of many ways we distract ourselves from having to feel things.
She meets a lovely man whose heart is also broken.2 She likes that she can be completely honest with him. She likes that he lives close by. She likes texting with him for hours every day – and the way his voice sounds on the phone. She likes having him in her bed. She knows his company is a band-aid, when what her heart needs is surgery.
She remembers the article. You see, our two strangers have spent over a year passing the same article back and forth between them. They have created a hashtag #MakeBiggerPuddles. They pass that back and forth too.
She starts thinking about that article. She decides band-aids are a short-term fix. It’s time to focus on making bigger puddles. It’s time to focus on the truth. The truth is her heart hurts and no amount of casual intimacy is going to fix it.
She admits this heartbreak has touched her at a soul level. She’s known heartbreak before. Heartbreak stemming from ego. This is different.
The way out is different.
This time she must trust life. This time the truth is all that matters.
On a cold winter morning, she walks along a snowy trail, looks out at her beloved Flatirons in the distance, and makes a commitment to put one foot in front of the other to heal her life. She remembers a hike they once took together, long and grueling. She wanted to give up that day. He told her to think of each step as a walking meditation – moving away from the life she had and towards the life she is meant for.
She wonders how he saw things? She knows it doesn’t matter anymore.
She’s ready to write another story. One based on truth and not fiction.