Hurting a Friend to Learn

Capture d’écran 2015-03-17 à 12.37.05

I don’t like keeping secrets. Sure, I have my little garden of personal information that I wish to keep private, but keeping things that would be best shared with those concerned is another story.

See, I believe that I am an intrinsically good person. Why do I dare affirm that? Because all my life I dreaded to tell a simple lie. Living while knowing that I have hurt someone is unbearable to me.

It was very unpleasant to have to tell my parents that I was going to some girlfriend’s house and then having to tell them a made-up scenario for our activities, while the truth was that I went out to a church basement party or to a gay boy’s house, as for my social sake I couldn’t have missed the event. My parents would have thought that for sure I would’ve gotten pregnant.

All I wish for is to always live in my truth. With all the liars and pretenders out there, I want to make a point that I can be trusted and that I do live in transparency.

Well, oops, I made a mistake. Some mistakes can definitely be worse than others, like driving drunk and killing someone must be pretty harsh on one’s conscience. Some are smaller incidents, but all mistakes have in common that they were done, and they are part of the past so they cannot be undone.

I was recently re-reading Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. One section was very enlightening. While elaborating on the prosecutions that followed the Russian communism invasion, he was saying that many people who were responsible for many deaths kept claiming: ‘‘I didn’t know, I am innocent.’’

Yes, before the events and as they were going on, many people weren’t disclosed sufficient information to know exactly what the impact of their actions was going to be. But as it happened and after, they were forced to face the repercussions and that is where a change in attitude became necessary. At first, they didn’t know, but then they knew. So now what? How will they react as they now know what consequences their actions had?

It is not so important as to whether the person was innocent in the first place, as what matters from this point of view is how the individual will take responsibility for what has been done.

Like my friend V. was saying, ‘‘Sometimes, you have to commit harm to someone you love to learn from the mistake.’’ Oh, I did learn indeed.

See, interpersonal relationships can be complicated, as most people have varying boundaries of what they find acceptable or not. Where is the line that should not be crossed? I have had as many exclusive relationships as I was involved with couples who were open. I am very much used to feeling free in my friendships.

So I had a nap for a couple of hours at the end of a night with a friend of mine, who also happened to be… my friend’s boyfriend. Oh, and I wasn’t a bachelorette myself. But I didn’t do anything wrong. Yes, we shared some healing massages, yes, there was proximity, but clothes were kept on and no spooning occurred. My soul was clear and honest. There was no sexual tension within me in this whole act! I have no trouble in having a sensual moment and in controlling my animalistic impulses to not let a drop of desire shape within me.

But who cares? How can my friend check whether or not that was true? However clear I am within me, she won’t get a lie detector to verify what I am saying.

The most important thing I learned in that incident is how sacred the bed now seems to me. The bed is a place of intimacy for lust and sleep, two things I normally don’t share with just about anyone.

From that moment on, even if someone just wanted to nap in my bed I felt like saying: ‘‘Sorry, it ain’t your territory, a male already peed all around it.’’ I wouldn’t share my underwear with anyone, well I’ll keep my bed private too!

Great, Vanessa, you learned a lesson, that’s what life is: experiencing stuff and evolving through it. But when the male with whom I shared that pleasant nap said: ‘We won’t be saying this to our partners, right? F***, no one else in this world understands how these beautiful healing moments can be shared without making it sexual or a betrayal,’’ I totally agreed. ‘‘Of course, naturally, I wasn’t going to shout it out.’’ That’s when I had a reality check and thought: ‘‘F***. Now I have a secret. Oh no, oh no…’’

Right then is when the real mistake started. Instead of facing what I had done and being honest to my loved ones, I felt ashamed that I crossed a boundary that I didn’t initially realized existed. I kept it in and told no one.

I thought the event in itself was insignificant enough for the harm that it could do, as the other partners were jealousy-prone types. I thought that by learning properly from the experience and never doing such thing again, it would make it okay.

Like V. continued saying: ‘‘It is not humble to believe that you can decide for others what they should or shouldn’t know. By not telling the truth, you kept from them the tools that would enable them to take decisions for their own lives. Only they know what is or not acceptable for themselves.’’ Right on, so well said.

My friendship with the girl continued to grow, but I guess that there was always a distance maintained by the gap caused by this secret. The night that I slept over at her boyfriend’s house, clever as she is, she had a dream that we had intercourse. When she wanted to be reassured that we didn’t do such a thing I would say ‘‘no, no, that didn’t happen.’’ I didn’t lie, but I didn’t completely say the truth when she offered me a chance to do so.

Months later, she learned that her partner had actually fully cheated on her. She asked one more time if something ever happened between me and him. I was tired of feeling like such a hypocrite as I wanted to help her feel better in her break-up. Instead, I was perpetrating harm and adding to her pain.

Wasn’t I doing exactly what he did to her by not being honest? So I told her the whole story. I feel extremely sad for contributing to her sorrow and for losing her as a friend, but so relieved to not be holding on to any information anymore.

It did put me in a weird place to extract these old skeletons from the closet, to put myself back in that past moment and to remember how my own relationship was crumbling apart.

I don’t want to clean up something after leaving it dirty for so long. The dirt solidifies. It’s so much better to just deal one thing at the time and keep none for later. So for now, I have done what was most appropriate, there is nothing more I can do. I guess I just have to wait and see if she’ll forgive me. I hope so, for I promise that I won’t do it again!

Photomontage of Element by Stephen Crosby, Tears of Change by Rose-Lynn Fisher and illustrations by Vanessa Serhan.

Vanessa Serhan is a brunette multi-disciplinary artist working and designing in Montreal.

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