Struggling To Be Perfect
As he drove the car, I stared out the window from the passenger seat. Daydreaming. Watching my life pass me by. Reflecting on everything I had voluntarily and involuntarily given up. Knowing I was about to surrender one more part of myself.
We were traveling to a party and I had agreed to be someone else. I have played this game before but this time it didn’t feel right.
Mentally steadying myself
Upon arrival, I mentally steadied myself. Before we exited the car, I placed my cane in the back seat. En route to the house, I stumbled three times on the sidewalk while trying to keep a normal walking pace. But luckily I made it safely without tumbling to the ground.
We met the host at the front door and she invited us in. As we crossed the threshold, I quickly grabbed my partner’s hand. It looked like a sign of love. But the truth is I did it for balance.
The front room of the house was full of fake friends making noise. And despite being surrounded by a group of people, at that moment, I felt so alone.
They only knew the lies
Everyone was a stranger to me. Not because I didn’t know them. It was because they didn’t know me. They only knew the lies. The lies he asked me to tell. The one’s that stopped me from being me. The one’s that hurt my spirit.
I’ve been dishonest so many times; my bright eyes have become dim. And when I’m in these situations, I don’t really smile. I don’t really laugh. I don’t really feel. I only concentrate on being inconspicuous. Trying not to let my foot drag. Pushing through fatigue. Giggling at jokes my cloudy mind doesn’t understand.
All the while he keeps whispering, “You are doing so good. You’re perfect.”
Eating me up inside
But every perfect moment is eating me up inside. I guess dancing with lies is more comfortable than sitting with the truth. So I bit my tongue and continued the deception.
As we trekked around the party, my strained smile greeted everyone I met. I answered each question with a mouth full of white lies. And despite the obvious evidence something was wrong, no one asked about my awkward lumbering walk. Everyone just played along. But I could read their faces. I memorized every wayward expression as I told them I was doing fine.
My companion needed to talk to someone in an upstairs room. So he asked me not to move from my current spot until he returned. I felt like a child being put in timeout and forbidden from leaving the corner. As he walked away, I immediately propped myself up against a partition. Once I was alone, I started regretting my decision to take part in such a sham. Making that agreement to hide my imperfections was like drinking poison. And the effects were beginning to influence me. I was becoming nauseous as I leaned against that wall watching my fabricated stories travel from person to person around the room.
But a part of me understands why he asked me to do it. I recognize, at any moment I can become an embarrassment. I know I can’t be trusted. I don’t always make rational decisions. In an instant, I could misstep and collide with a door. Run into a wall. Slip and fall face first onto the floor. Ruining the image he created. Destroying the fairy tale life his family and friends believe we live.
So that’s why I try my best to keep our secret. But it still hurts.
I made it through the night without any major mistakes. And as we were driving home my boyfriend said to me, “Thank you. You were perfect.”
I just kept my eyes forward and gave a halfhearted smile. A great sadness filled the car as I wondered if he really thought I was perfect. Or was he talking about the person I was pretending to be?