I talk a lot about the fog my pain medications create around my brain and how difficult it can sometimes be to remember or find words to express myself. But my pain medications have also had an oddly positive effect on my awareness of the world around me. I seem to be getting better at seeing people. By seeing I don’t mean I don’t have to wear my glasses. I mean I can see into them: their vulnerabilities, their resistance and their fears. I’ve joked to a close friend that when I get better I might have to figure out a way to continue getting refills for these brightly coloured perception pills.
It’s been happening like this. Every day I watch – but mostly listen to – the people in my life faking feelings they don’t have or suppressing the ones they do have. They feign love for their spouses or significant others when all things about that person makes them cringe or often deliberate disengaging from committed life. They pretend to get excited by work that leaves them dangling partially comatose on wobbly swivel desk chairs. They groan about dragging their asses out of bed in dim morning light to care for children they never wanted. They engage in carnal play to avoid mind numbing conversations about where to take the next vacation or what colour to paint the front hall while visualizing distant objects of desire. And worst of all, some are trapped living a life lie because to live freely as who they truly are would see them disavowed from their bloodlines.
They fake their way through whatever ‘it’ is to fool anyone looking to closely into believing they are happy. It seems that the longer my illness hangs around the deeper I’m able to see into people. It’s as if they feel safe being vulnerable with me because I’m in a weakened physical state. Perhaps they think my mind is so scrambled by the pain medications I can’t or won’t remember their hesitations before they assume a perfectly light-hearted tone or the way their voices trail off without completely answering a question about the supposed important things or people in their lives. It’s possible they think I don’t recognize the longing in the too long pauses. Or maybe it’s just a relief for them not to have to pretend with someone just for a moment and they hope it goes unnoticed.
Whatever the reason, they are faking it. At first I thought it was me. That I was being too sensitive and looking for things that aren’t really there. But the more I listen the more I hear the discontent and longing for something, someone or someplace different; and I want to tell them all to run. Run fast. Run far. Run to that other existence they believe they can have.
But I know that’s not fair or the right thing to do. I don’t have the right to tell anyone to run away from the thing(s) making them unhappy. Especially when I can’t guarantee they will find better things or any happiness at all.
Besides it would be hypocritical of me to tell anyone to stop faking anything when I walk around trying to fake not feeling pain.
Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender