Truth, in an of itself, does not exist outside of our minds. It is a cloudy, oft-misused philosophical concept that, at best, helps us to clarify what we want and how we feel, but at worst is used to control and manipulate people, ourselves as often as others. People who are controlled by the truths of others are people like me, who believe that our own truth does not exist or at the very least, has the least validity of all possible truths. In that regard, then, truth is an extension of ourselves, a flyer from the sanctum of self out into the realm of the real where it fares better or worse depending on its weight.
My truth has no weight. It is an ephemeral thing that floats like smoke around me. I sense it, smell it, see it, but I cannot hold it, cannot keep it close to me. As such, the slightest interference from an outside entity will disrupt its flow, leaving me focused on someone else’s burdensome truth, while mine dissipates completely until it is as though it never existed.
It is both simple and difficult to go through life this way. The easy part is that I never have to decide anything for myself. In this world there is always someone who knows what’s best for me; there is always someone ready to offer an opinion on how I ought to be deciding or behaving. There is always someone willing to control what I think or how I act. This may not be true, but that’s the way that it feels, that at any given moment there is a certain way to act or behave that is befitting a man of my class and stature. I wrote about this at length in The Path of God, so I won’t go into it here, except to say that I have, for as long as I can remember, been at the mercy of someone else’s truth. I do not know where I learned this or how I came to believe it, except that perhaps I am built this way. It is part of the mystery of my own personal creation story (easier for me to conceive of and write about, perhaps, because my name is Adam).
The genesis of this trait, whose shadow side has for so long weakened me in the most polite and pleasing manner, is inconsequential. I do not want to spend any more time wondering (and lamenting) why I am who I am, but rather increase the weight of my truth so that it anchors me in my experience and gives me the power to shape the world in a way that is pleasing to me. It is without question in my mind that the weight of our truths gives us power in the world. The more firmly I believe my own truth, for good or for ill, the more power I have to make my life what I want it to be.
I have not consciously held that power for a long time, and for a long time before that I did not feel it was mine to wield. As a polite young man, guilt-stricken about the inherent power of being a young, white male in Western society, I continually gave my power away, ceded the truth of my life and my being to others, pretending I had no truth (no opinion, no strong feelings, no passions), or focusing only on the harmless truths, the truths of my own pain, dissatisfaction and powerlessness. These feelings were true, but they had power because I believed in their truth and their weight, stealing from the other equally valid truths of my power in the world without ever realizing who I was robbing or why. I was powerless in the world because I believed I was; I am powerless in the world because I believe I am. This belief is not an explicit one; it is an implicit belief that, through the elegant origami of my self-deception, I have folded pieces of into other truths in my life about women, authority and God, leaving me at the mercy of those who, either explicitly or intuitively, were willing to take on the burden of influencing me.
That is not a burden easily carried, though it is one that is easily taken. My wife is the current bearer of my truth, as I was taught (or taught myself) is the best way to live. It has not always been my wife, She does not know it or does not admit it to herself, and whatever her reasons they are her own, but her truth is the truth that gives my life weight and meaning, that gives momentum to our lives together. This is not the explicit truth, the view from the outside, but the implicit shape that our relationship has taken, as I have repeatedly folded myself into a shape that I believe suits her, her truth and her view of what our relationship should be. It is dark and cramped in here, and I am ready to come out.
This description of our relationship is not a truth that my wife would recognize. As I imagine her reading this, I can see her staring dumbfounded at the words, because this is not her truth, this is not the truth on her side of our codependency, nor should it be. If her truth was one of power and manipulation she would not be the woman that she imagines herself to be. And while I understand that much of this exhalation is merely the description of the prison that the prisoner has built for himself and described upon waking, I also know that beyond that lies some truth, for it is impossible to be codependent completely own my own. I do not believe that my wife is a power-hungry manipulator of people. I believe that she moves through the world with a weighty truth, whether or not this truth matches up with the way things are. I believe that I, as a person without a truth of his own, am drawn to people with weighty truth. I believe that my wife is comfortable in our relationship being the person who is right and who sets the tone without ever questioning where the roots of this comfort lie.
As uncomfortable as it is to remain under the thumb of someone else’s truth, breaking out of the cycle of codependency is more difficult. The most tempting mode of escape for me is to constantly challenge the weight of someone else’s truth. It feels good to do it, because I have lived my life in deference to the truth of others, and in some instances it really is important to challenge those truths, but ultimately this is only half of what I need to do. To question the truth of other’s is a meaningless gesture without a truth of my own to either fall back on or substitute. I know that I am not doing either gracefully. I am reactionary to the truth of others and I am slow to realizing my own truths. It can take me up to a day to realize how I feel about something, and that’s embarrassing, both to realize myself and to admit to others. It is also incredibly unsatisfying, again for me and for others, to say, “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you on that,” over and over and over again. It is, however, both satisfying and surprising to find I do have opinions on things, though I continue to feel awkward about expressing them, feeling that when I go on and on about something I know or am passionate about that I’m being long-winded or dominating the conversation. But this is the new and awkward portion of what I am doing, and I will be the graceless young antelope, I suppose, stumbling towards proficiency and hopefully someday even gracefulness.