The Willing Suspension of Belief

(Continued from a previous entry, “An Attempt to Tell a Long Story Short”)

My thoughts most recently explored the issue while doing some menial tasks around our apartment (washing the dishes, most like). I’ve often thought about in terms of how would respond if somewhere to ask me that question point blank. I think about it because, even after all this time, it still feels like something that could possible happen. Only one of Lauren’s friends or family has ever confronted me directly about it, leaving a large pool of people who potentially still could. At this point, it’s likely it wouldn’t be an angry scene, but it would be a delicate moment nonetheless.

I’ve tossed around later of theories to explain to myself my actions leading up to that night. I can see how, in a mechanical sense, how one action lead to another, how dangerous even relatively small actions can be when they are met with the right response. But the overall why of it, the numbing crassness of my actions, the ability to so thoroughly deceive myself into thinking that somehow I could live with it once I actually went through with it. Well, that and many other things still elude me.

I’ve made peace with the unknown nature of that by focusing on that first part, by drawing lessons from that series of steps. The takeaway is this — our assumption that we aren’t a cheater is largely predicated on a lack of opportunity. Meaning, don’t put yourself in a situation where someone has the chance to make a romantic overture toward you, whether its physical or (in my experience, more dangerously) emotional.

But I’ve digressed, the unknown part is what I wanted to talk about originally, that ever-damning why, the haunting knowledge that I am fully capable of deeply hurting the ones I love. The phrase that came to me as I stood there washing dishes was “willing suspension of disbelief.”

We often use this to describe what happens when we watch an improbable sequence of events in action movie. The audience knows that it’s basically a ridiculous premise that 20 bad guys shooting dozens of bullets at James Bond would all miss while he takes each one out with pinpoint accuracy, but we all go along with it anyway. Because it’s fun. In fact, action, fantasy and sci-fi stories are often judged on their ability to create and sustain this fantasy, to be crafted slickly enough that we just go along for the ride instead of grinding it to a halt with a series of perfectly reasonable questions. At some point though, the lights come back on and we exit the theatre, laughing and discussing the more ridiculous logical leaps of what we’ve just seen.

My feelings for Lauren were and are real and deep. What I felt for this other person was bright and flashy and overwhelmed my senses. I acted in that moment, suspended aloft in the fantasy we had created. I don’t present this as an excuse. We are responsible for our actions. But it’s one of the few ways I can think to explain what happened over that terrible stretch of weeks.

— Day 1 —