Thursday, July 22, 2010

When do I tell?

I can't not talk about my family. I love them as much now as I ever did, and the fact that they're gone doesn't mean I lose the right to brag about them.

People were complimenting me on my belt today, and asking me where I got it. Like about half my wardrobe, it was a gift from my mom. At some point, this led into a conversation about the incredible fashionista she was, and how proud she was of me when I started becoming more interested in fashion.

I feel like I lie to people - when they refer to her (or my dad, or my brother) using the present tense, and I don't correct them. I feel as though I'm consciously and intentionally deceiving them. But do I have a right to - in the middle of a friend's birthday party - say "oh, well, she passed away"? Of course I do, it has nothing to do with rights. But somehow it's my responsibility to protect people from the same style of emotions I experience. The shock, the not knowing how to react, the fears of one's own current situation. It's my responsibility because if I don't take that responsibility, I end up an outcast. I made that mistake once. I ended up having to extricate myself from a community because I was no longer viewed as 'normal.'

But at what point is it appropriate for me to tell the truth? Or, at least, to put an end to the assumptions? I never have lied about the situation, though I have on occasion told partial truths.

At the end of the night, a friend and I were walking in the same direction toward our homes. It came to a point where he was calling me a girly-girl, and then he started to say that when I was 30 my mom and I would go shopping and go out on the town and have a blast. For me -- immediate grief. I went dead silent. What do I say? I've gotten to know him over the past few weeks, but do I know him well enough to cut into his merry disposition to tell him she's dead?

I was lucky enough that we hit my street, and we parted ways before it could progress. (I think he may have assumed my silence was a hesitation to believe that my mom and I could hit the town as friends. He countered it with, "Oh yeah, you will!"). I walked home trying my best not to start crying. I could so easily have stopped his conjecture (which, in my world, is now pure fantasy) and ended my pain, but instead for 'his' sake - or the sake of my newly-found friendship with him - I suffered and let him prattle on.

I don't think I would've even had the heart to let him know that the words he considered kind were like hollow-point bullets --- right through the armour.


MIchelle said...

I totally understand. That balance of wanting to avoid the disconnected looks of pity but each lie feeling like a little bit of a betrayal to yourself and those you have lost. The hardest part of making new friends is the decision of when you can trust them with the information without sacrificing the relationship. It is in instances like that when you just have to use your best judgment and try to persevere. You did the right thing but it doesn't make in any easier or hurt any less.

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