Microscopic Truth (Nov. 2004)

When Kathleen and I were married, there were very few things about her that irritated me on a not-quite-daily basis. She did have one habit, however, that made me want to tear her hair out (why ruin my own?).

I am a good storyteller. Like most Texans, I often exaggerate details for comic and/or dramatic effect. It’s generally what makes a good story. Storytellers also create an unspoken bond with their audiences when they tell their stories that allows one to “jewel the elephant” because they know they’re being entertained…

But apparently, Kathleen did not get that memo. When I would tell stories, she would do one of two things, and sometimes both, depending on her level of frustration: 1) give me very disapproving looks that clearly said, “you are acting like a retarded monkey.” 2) Interrupt me during every sentence to correct what I’d just said, because she had to let everyone know that what I’d said wasn’t exactly the way she remembered. She would even interrupt me during the retelling of stories if I didn’t tell them exactly the same way I told them the last time.

Kathleen was into microscopic truthfulness, and it was terribly inconvenient.

Now that Kathleen and I aren’t together, I’ve had time to wonder whether she had a point. Was I just trying to add emphasis, or was I slipping away from the truth in a manner that was harmful? In a roomful of friends, probably not. But I was awfully talented at it when I was by myself. Truth dribbled through my fingers and onto the floor when I would come to the end of each month and wonder why we didn’t have any money when we both had extremely high salaries. Truth sat outside the window, longing to be let in when I would wonder why my wife never thought I was good enough for her, paralyzed at the thought that perhaps we weren’t meant to be married and I should leave. Truth got down on its knees and begged for my attention when, after my wife left me, my depression was so bad I didn’t want to leave the house, even to go to a doctor.

Bit by bit, as I’ve seen my life rise from the ash that the divorce left behind, truth and I have gotten to know each other again. We’re trying each other on. At this point, we’re not quite sure how to work together. Up until two or three years ago, it was so much easier to tell myself (and everyone else) that everything was fine. Back then, I would hold back emotion using a fake smile as a makeshift dam, and very few people learned to recognize it.

Back then, the further I got from the truth, the more I lost myself. Now, the truth is rescuing me… a little bit at a time.

I now rely on microscopic truth to give me an accurate picture of where I am, a yardstick to let me know how far I’ve come, and a compass to point me in the next direction.

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