I’m a liar. I lie to my friends, I lie to my family, I lie to strangers, and I lie to myself. That last one is most upsetting and I wish I could stop, but it’s a compulsion that was born of self preservation, and has worked its way into every aspect of my life and personality.For those who don’t know, Showtime’s Dexter is one of my favourite TV shows, and is one I’ve found myself relating to on multiple occasions to over the years. The show is based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay wherein the title character is a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Metro police dept. by day, and a principled serial killer by night. His sociopathic personality offers most of the comic relief, but also what makes him endearing. I encourage you to watch it for yourself if you haven’t seen it, all seasons are on Netflix.Anyway, what makes the character relatable to me is predominantly featured in the Halloween episode “Let’s Give the Boy a Hand”.
“Everyone hides who they are at least some of the time. Sometimes you bury that part of yourself so deeply you have to be reminded it’s even there at all. And sometimes you just want to forget who you are altogether … I’m not the monster he wants me to be so I’m neither man nor beast. I’m something new entirely, with my own set of rules. I’m Dexter. Boo.”
“I love Halloween. The one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me. People think it’s fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I’m not. Brother, friend, boyfriend – All part of my costume collection. Some people might call me a fraud. Let’s see if it will fit. I prefer to think of myself as a master of disguise.”
I really relate to Dexter’s expression of living his life behind a mask because it feels as though that’s how I’m living my life every day. Living with a set of interchangeable personalities that I bring out depending on the situation or the company I’m in. Every new mask has its own story, its own thoughts, its own feelings, its own set of challenges.
Why do I do it? Why did I start in the first place? I don’t remember specifically, but I expect that I was ashamed or embarrassed of something that I either did or didn’t do, and told someone what I wished could be the truth. That’s how it starts now when I meet new people or see someone for the first time in a long time. I don’t know what they expect me to say, but I know what I don’t want the truth to be. I don’t want tell them that I failed out of college, or am living with my parents, or that I’m broke, or that I don’t have any plans for the future. So out comes the Matt that chose to pursue an avenue other that college, is only living with his parents temporarily during renovations on his place, and that has steadfast plans for the future.
That’s who I am to them now. That’s who I always have to be. So it’s a good thing that I’m a good liar and can keep my stories straight. It can be a delicate balance at times, but I think it’s important (both morally and practically) to keep things simple when making decisions while wearing a mask. I don’t fabricate unrealistic lies, but try to just embellish or underplay the truth. Because isn’t that what we all wish we could do in real life?
Why do I do it? Why do I pretend to be someone I’m not? Therein lies to truth and of the situation, because I don’t think I really know who I am anymore. As Dexter mentions, “Sometimes you bury that part of yourself so deeply you have to be reminded it’s even there at all.” In my case, I think that I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t know if that buried version of myself is even real. Maybe that version is its own mask that I wear for myself instead of others. Like when you think something in your mind is a memory when it’s really your imagination. How do you know what’s real?
They say “Honesty is the best policy”, but what do I do if I don’t even know what the truth is anymore? Well, I may not be truthful in every area of my life, but I know one thing… I’m a con artist, a perjurer, a phoney, an equivocator, a fabricator, a falsifier, a fibber, a misleader, and a false witness.
Who do you pretend to be?
Edit: I was poking through my journal and found a relevant excerpt from July 2011… “I’m a fraud. Just a collection of learned behaviours.” Seemed fitting for this blog post.