“A smile is a stone, made for fire. Beneath that hardened mask is a puddle, where our sorrows were held down to be drowned. We held down our tragedies beneath a weight, a stone, our false smiles, though we could not help it when the fires grew to reach others and burn them away. We lied. We told the wrong story. We said to others that we were doing well. They knew better. We did not. They turned away. One day in the future, we will not.”
– Modern Romanticism
The truth hurts. A common saying. But why?
It should be because we understand something about ourselves, though our denial is more willing to defy that comprehension. Our comprehension says that our pain is real. With that vivid realness, we hide it beneath a veil. We do not want to look at it, because its images are too real. We would rather live, showing to ourselves in a mirror, or to others as we connect, a mirage that isn’t who we are.
How does that bode to people who have just met us? They see that mirage, and they see a different person that people, who have always known us, do not see. Have we changed, or are we still the same person? Indeed, we are the same person, because we cannot see what we have buried. An attempt to move on without resolving a traumatic experience, for instance, will result in future connections not seeing what past connections have known. About ourselves. About whom we were, before we sought to hide everything, even those past connections, because it all reminded us of what we do not want to remember.
The truth hurts because we cannot let something that is ourselves go. We cannot let go of something, simply because we have buried it. If a good friend should tell us something about ourselves, then despite its accuracy, are we in the right to say those words were hurtful if they spoke of something we already knew? We are right to make that interpretation, because the only reason that perception of us was hurtful was indeed because we already knew what they know. We understood it, for that’s why it was hurtful. We understood it, and if we are willing to retort against our close friend of their hurtful words, we are now displaying them as a stranger. In doing that, we are hurting our close friend, to say they are ignorant, and that all memories that have developed this bond of friendship are meaningless.
Memories are not meaningless. We are meant to be sure of what we trusted. Though, people with traumatic memories do not want to remember what they cannot believe had happened. In a person saying the words, “I cannot believe that has happened,” they are admitting that they do not want to believe it. In that sense, it is denial being expressed. Though, in the process of grief or of an experience this shocking, from denial to acceptance, a person must walk these stages to find peace for themselves. From successfully doing this, they have placed confidence in what they have experienced, while no longer doubting themselves on what is a truth and a tragedy that can no longer be avoided nor denied. In that same sense, to deny a close friend’s words is no different than denying what everyone else, besides the denier, knows has happened. At the same time, that denier not only denies, though has distorted their thinking to the point of others knowing more of the occurrence than they. No matter the angle, denial is the restriction upon acceptance of something that another person can understand with greater clarity than that denier.
If truth is hurtful, we might deny it for as long as possible, though not forever. If we choose to deny it forever, we lose ourselves in forgetting ourselves out from whatever memories we ever harbored of ourselves. In this, we become something that isn’t ourselves, making it an absolute that other people will know us better than we comprehend ourselves. People are the truths that they make themselves to be. Forgetting how to read our own pages makes us illiterate to them. In being illiterate to our histories, another person will have to read them for us. A person denying their own history will cause them to be incapable of being part of their own future.