Uzi Peretz considers how the lies we tell ourselves, and one another, impact our relationships.
It lasted more than a decade.
We got married in 1994. We were both 19 years old. I made the journey northward (approximately 24 hours by Greyhound bus) after completing the easiest boot camp this particular branch of the Armed Forces has to offer. At the wedding, I wore my official military uniform and she wore a dress that cost more than we could afford. We both promised the stereotypical “I do’s” in a church, in front of “god and all his witnesses”; where I promised to stay with her forever.
After the reception, my mother gave us a car she’d secretly stuffed all our belongings in. We headed out on a road trip/honeymoon across America to start our storybook life together in California. The first stop was at a “theme” hotel where we did not consummate the marriage. When she said, “I don’t feel like it”, I believed her. It was several months later before I realized what she really meant was that she didn’t like sex; and that we would not be doing “it” very often.
On the day before the lie started, everything seemed completely normal (you didn’t think that was the lie did you?). I’d go so far as to say things were going great. I was one part of a young married couple with two cars, my own place and even a few extra bucks in the bank. I’d actually grown accustomed to the boring, bi-monthly (and sometimes less) “sex” I was having err not having. You get the idea.
For almost two years, things seemed like they were as close to perfect as they were going to get for me and I was okay with that. Because of our schedules (she worked and went to school), we didn’t actually see each other that much and when we did there were usually other people around. I just figured it was how things were supposed to be.
Almost everyone (friends, parents, society – even the pastor) warned us about getting married so young; but we were in love and nothing was going to stop us. It was just like that Starship song; or were they still Jefferson Starship? Wait. Was it Jefferson Airplane? I can’t be that old…
Anyway, on the day before the lie started she invited one of her coworkers for dinner. As usual, she headed off to bed early leaving me (and her very attractive friend) on our own. We made ourselves comfortable on opposite ends of the couch and decided to watch a movie (on DVD thank you very much). You know, if my entire life depended on it, I could not tell you what that movie was. I do remember the conversation though. We became so engrossed in it that I didn’t even notice we were both sitting sideways (cross legged with our knees touching) until well after the movie found its way back to the main menu.
For no reason at all, I was sharing parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. It was like I had tricked myself into hiding all these parts of my personality – or they were just emerging. I’m guessing here but it seemed like she was as interested in my hopes, fears, dreams and my [Ahem] turn-ons as I was hers.
And suddenly there was nothing left to say. So we just sat there staring at each other for a few minutes until she put her hand on my knee and smiled. And that’s when it hit me. It was the type of clarifying moment I think Oprah would agree was definitely an ‘’Ah-Hah” one. I remember my heart was racing and I started to feel all fuzzy and weird. Just before I ran out of the room, I managed to blurt out, “Oh my god, I married the wrong person”.
I awoke the next day feeling terrible. For the first time I really understood what it was like to feel completely alone – and it was terrifying. This feeling reached down to the very depths of my being. There was no getting around it or away from it. I knew the person I’d agreed to “love, honor and cherish until death did us part” was not the person I wanted to do those things with. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it so…
The fact I’d grown up in a religious household (albeit a crazy evangelical one) certainly did not help matters whatsoever. I shared my experience with a few people and got mixed results mostly about what I should or shouldn’t have done with the girl. None of these suggestions were accurate or helpful.
No matter how hard that lie tried to reach the surface, I wouldn’t let it. I just kept pushing it down; even shoving it down when I had to. By the fourth or fifth year, I forgot I was even lying to myself. It was as if the lie became truth and blinded me from seeing it. I blamed her for everything that was wrong with my life. I was overweight, unhappy and generally pissed off at the world I’d created for myself. It seems like a short period of time but I remember feeling like it was never going to end. Almost 9 years later, I found out she’d had a brief (albeit completely justifiable) affair and I jumped at the chance to use it as my way out.
I divorced her almost immediately. I got in shape, had plenty of sex and did all the things I thought would make me happy; but they didn’t. And as my time on this planet stumbled forward toward its inevitable conclusion, I had another one of those moments. Instead of learning how to be open, loving and honest with someone – the way I had been so many years ago – I was still living the lie.
Image: Katie Tegtmeyer/Flickr