I lied in my story. Well not really, but kind of.
I am curious why I did this when my project was so centered on exposing- or more accurately, not hiding- what was going on. When I wrote it, I felt that the truth was something stable in the confusion of appearances and excruciation. This position separated me from the world of my family and made me feel powerful.
“..she had a black eye and a teacher had overheard her telling her friend how her father had given it to her.” That is what my story says. I had a black eye for sure, and my father did give it to me. What Mr. Rock overheard that day, however, was not exactly me telling my friend about it. In truth, she asked me, while Mr. Rock was very clearly within earshot, “How did you get that black eye, Lindsay? Did your father give it to you?” I answered yes, and so the way I described the event is not precisely false. But I changed what happened. I converted the fact of the teacher’s overhearing to happenstance, and maybe wrote myself more in control of what happened. In reality my friend outed me on purpose. I let Mr. Rock hear me say yes, but I do remember feeling mild panic, a meek kind of “Shhhhh!” from within when she asked me this question in public. I think it was that feeling that was what I was trying to hide when I camouflaged the truth.
The truth can be like a wet bar of soap. I thought being honest would save me, but I was simultaneously terrified that I was lying without knowing it. This paranoia that I am actually faking when I think I am being sincere is the blossom of a fear that my perception is defective. Inaccurate perception would not necessarily be so bad, except that my father’s perceptions are inaccurate- or at least I was pretty sure they were,- and to discover that I am like him would most assuredly be the worst thing in the world.
So I think truth is the only safe thing, but I cannot tell you the truth (or even be confident within myself about what the truth is), because I am scared that what I think is the truth is really not, and if that is the truth, well, then I am fucked. So I have bound myself into a nice little knot. The knot was not so cinched when I was fourteen, but it was there. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor writing the story, painstakingly choosing my words so as to express just what happened, without dramatizing the events or my father.
Further back than that, when the black eye thing transpired, I was not really ready. I was not intentionally hiding anything exactly, but the full sense of my situation had not come together yet. The black eye was a turning point; I was conscious with more continuity that something was not right. When I wrote my story on the other hand, I was confident and very sure that I wanted to be transparent. It was mine. Disclosing that this girl had exposed my thing for me would have emasculated me, as it were. I wanted to expose it. So I changed it.
The truth is that my friend did see what was going on at my house before I did. She got it before me- basically, and I do not like that at all. It is the truth, but it heightens my sense that I am missing something. It makes me feel weak, like a sucker. The black eye scene was not the first, or the last, or the most devastating scenario in my life with this structure. If I am to now tell the story of my father and me without dramatizing myself, I have to accept and unhide the reality that I was not always the first to know, and sometimes I missed things at first glance, and in a few respects and circumstances I was indeed very, very weak.