This is something I had resolved never to write. Honestly, I’ve labored over it for a while now, and it gets more and more difficult to excuse my own silence every day. Now, as I set my sights on finishing this blog and the book it was always intended to birth, I find that I can no longer keep silent about some glaring factual flaws in the overall narrative.
Please understand, the fictions were not created by me, and when I shared them as facts, it is because they were facts, to the very best of my knowledge. But in the months leading up to Jacquelynn’s death and even more so afterward, I have learned that much of what I understood of her was not rooted entirely in truth.
Yes, she lied about her age. By eight years. Born in 1958, she had told me from the outset that we shared a 1966 birth year. Please believe me when I say that it would NEVER have been an issue. Of the four women I spoke to on the dating site through which we initially met (another truth she refused to admit to anyone and forbade me to ever discuss), all but one were older than me by a similar delta. I had essentially figured this out several years before her illness but allowed her to maintain it, even through the increasingly flimsy (unsolicited) explanations. I wanted very much to believe her, to believe that she wouldn’t lie to me about something so meaningless, but, deep down, I knew full well, even though the actual date remained a mystery to me. Apparently, she even enlisted her brother’s assistance, extracting from him a promise of silence it took considerable effort and her terminal illness to get him to break.
That’s not the primary issue here, but it’s at the root of it. To maintain that fiction, and to get the accomplishments of her life to match up, she constructed an elegant and easily believable collegiate and professional career with dates to match. An ever-more-complicated string of events, intricately woven by a mind obsessed with details and analysis. Made much easier, I’m sure, by my unwillingness to believe she’d ever lie to me. All untrue, I would eventually learn. I’m far from the only person she told these things, but shouldn’t I be the one person she told the truth? Shouldn’t I have had access to the real Jacquelynn?
I’m honestly not angry, though. If anything, I feel deeply guilty that I may have ever done or said something, anything, that made her fear being totally honest with me. If I did, I am so very, deeply sorry.
The point of all of this is twofold: Of course, I want Jacquelynn’s story to be told as much from her point of view as possible, which is why this information will likely appear in the book as a preface of sorts and the narrative will read as it unfolded, with the story as she told and lived it. Her truth, if not the truth.
Secondly, I deeply understand the desire, the need, to create one’s backstory rather than simply telling it. When one’s self-image isn’t the brightest (even when it truly deserves to be), and when one is striving to create a “more desirable” portrait, the temptation to embellish can be difficult to resist. I can forgive that easily.
The maintenance of a lie can be damned difficult. Stories get thinner as people get closer, and so does the ice the lies force you to skate across in every conversation. But coming clean can be scarier yet, and just gets more so as time piles up. “I know I should tell him, but he’s going to be SO mad that I didn’t tell him sooner…” I can hear the internal arguments in her head even now. She always did overanalyze every little thing. I feel that I earned her trust, but never truly received it fully. She loved me enough to lie to me, and feared losing me enough to work SO hard to maintain it.
And I don’t doubt for one second that she loved me. I know full well that I was the love of her life and she was mine.
With all of this behind me now, I have learned one very important thing about myself: if life ever does give me another shot at real love, I want one thing and one thing only, right from the very beginning; I want to be the one loved and important enough, to tell the truth. I deserve to be the man she loves enough to risk the whole truth to keep. Whomever she is, she has my word that she’ll receive the same, right up front.
The truth. Not just a truth, not just my version of the truth. She’ll know ME. Blemishes, failures, and all. I have no right or desire to enter a relationship with any less than that.
I read a quote this evening from actor and comedian Jim Carrey which seems incredibly appropriate just now: “Depression is your avatar telling you it is tired of being the character you’re trying to play.”
I’m truly tired of being depressed, and of being any me other than the genuine Matthew.
Genuine Matthew is the writer you have come to know in these pages. This is me, bleeding all over the keyboard, revealing his flaws and triumphs in equal and highly unbalanced measure.