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This is a question Faking it

Rakky writes, "We've all done it. From qualifications to orgasms, everyone likes to play 'let's pretend' once in a while."

So when have you faked it? Did you get away with it? Or were your mendacious ways exposed?

(, Thu 10 Jul 2008, 15:16)
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Fake it till you make it
I finished my uni classes for the day yesterday and went home where I could enjoy some much-needed downtime with a bottle of beer and B3ta. Whilst re-reading the QOTW I had an epiphany, and a strange thought began to surface from somewhere in the depths of my exhausted mind. Soon enough I began to ponder quietly as I was sipping on my beer. As the QOTW says, we’ve all played “let’s pretend” at some point. I think it unlikely, however, that most people realise the extent to which some of us have done so.

Some people, for example, portray an image of themselves which is entirely inconsistent with their thoughts or feelings (what they may consider their actual “personality”) on daily basis. To a degree this can be called acting, but the negative connotations of putting on an “act” in a social environment could belie the genuine reason for doing so.

Sounds daft, I know, but stick with me for a moment. I was one of these people for…well…the majority of my life and (maybe) I can offer a little insight into why some people choose to do this.

Growing up isn’t easy for many people. Every household/family/environment (call it what you wish) is unique. Mine involved a sister, my Mum and my Dad. Dad had been an abusive alcoholic since before I was born and my family had suffered for it in several ways. My mother and sister were emotionally abused, and I was both emotionally and physically punished since my father took a particular dislike to my disobedience in what he was determined was “his” house.

The environment I was living in was reflected in my behaviour and my thoughts when I was at home. I didn’t talk much, was tentatively on-edge and also took to comfort eating in my teens (went from a 6-pack to overweight in a matter of months once I began. Yes, it happens to guys too). This wasn’t just behaviour conditional to my Dad being at home, either. I felt like this ALL the time at home, regardless of Dad’s presence.

While I won’t go into any details suffice to say that years of emotional abuse has a profound effect on a person’s mind and development. My mother and sister developed serious clinical depression, as did my father (I never did figure out whether the depression – a chemical imbalance in the brain – was the cause or the result of it). The problem was that it was years until this was actually diagnosed – I was 16 when my mother and father attempted suicide (6 weeks apart from each other. Both failed) and were admitted to a psychiatric ward in the nearby hospital for examination and rehabilitation. They were put on anti-depressants, given counselling, and eventually came home, whence a cycle of home-rehab-home-rehab began for each of them (out of synch, too).

Of course, nobody on the outside had a clue what home life was like. Not my friends, not the neighbours, or the people that my parents associated with.


We were all pretending. Each of us was…well…”different” when we were in the company of “outsiders”. You know how when a group of people behave differently within their social circle when somebody new is introduced? It was similar, but very exaggerated. Our whole demeanour changed not only as a family, but as individuals (I hope I’m making some sort of sense here).

I went from my quiet, moody, angry and nervous home-self to flamboyant as soon as I spoke to the first outsider, whether it was at school, work or the sport teams my Dad allowed me in. I noticed it in my sister as well. The tentative glance my sister and I made toward each other each morning as each of us parted ways at the school gate, watching the other talk to their respective friends and seeing them smile for the first time since getting home the previous day is a moment no words can describe. That’s when I suppose we felt we were out of the woods and could begin our lives that existed away from home.

And so the days went by. I found reasons to laugh and joke, and tell myself to think happy thoughts so the fear of what was waiting for me at home wouldn’t get to me. I pretended I was OK. I pretended I was happy. I pretended that the occasional fat lip or bruised arms and legs were from carpentry/sport/fighting. I pretended that I wasn’t who I was or what I was. I did this until I moved out of home so I could go to a university in a different city.

I moved into a flat with other first-years and soon enough the happy façade began to crumble. I began having mood swings and thinking unusually violent thoughts. I couldn’t keep up this “act” of being a well-adjusted happy individual 24/7. However, I convinced myself that it was a just a passing thing that I would grow out of, though deep down I knew I was in denial. Around this time my sister decided to make an attempt at suicide herself, and *thankfully* was saved by a friend that made sure she received the appropriate treatment as I was no longer around (a fact which still wracks me with guilt).

A year later I was much wiser (relatively, anyway) and chose to open up a bit so I could try and BE happy instead of just ACTING it. I was living in a different flat with different flatmates which were kept at arms distance. I decided to try being more open and began by eventually confiding in a close friend why I might be behaving unusually, and related my home-history to her. This turned out to be a big mistake. She went ahead and told our mutual friends what I told her, in great detail. I was mad as hell.

However, I decided that it would be best to feign forgiveness even if I wasn’t ready to really forgive her yet so that things could move on – I told myself that “everybody deserves a second chance, don’t they?”

PANG. You know that feeling you get when you have a thought – just a thought – and the sudden, unforeseen tsunami of emotion that stems from it is so strong, so swift that it catches you entirely off guard?

Good God, I was crying – a 20 year old dude sitting in his room on an idle Wednesday afternoon, and I was unable to stop the emotion from distorting my face into a pained grimace. It took all my strength to not make any sound. If I could hear myself do this it would become too real. I was embarrassed for myself. Why now? Why was this still hurting, still agonizing, still rotting my core even now?
“It was a while ago, it doesn’t matter anymore” I reminded myself, pretending that it was true.

I fought it like hell. I punched the wall, my pillows, the door, anything that could distract me or pull my attention away from my own contemplations – if my Dad couldn’t make me cry with his punches and kicks then neither could this thought, this emotion, this foreign THING that was attacking my psyche.

I was wrong. It was getting ever harder to hold on…so eventually I let it all out. It was over surprisingly fast, like a dam breaking, subjecting everything downstream to its wrath. Never cried so hard in my life before, or since, that afternoon.

It took a while to pull myself back together. I gathered my thoughts and realised that I needed to make a fresh start. I had to stop faking, even if it was only to my closest friends. That’s when it began. That’s when I began to stop acting, stop pretending and abandon the charade that virtually split my personality. I admitted to myself where I came from and convinced myself that I could do better. I could BE better.

Some time last year, about 2 years after breaking down quietly in my room, I realised I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do that day. I can be “myself” (for lack of a better term) not only with my girlfriend and my friends, but also with my family. Thankfully, they’re better too. Their depression and my father’s alcoholism have been successfully managed by means of medication and counselling, and gone is the previous charade of happiness we put on for others. Now, we actually ARE happy.

Sometimes, I guess faking it can pave the path to a lot more than that CV that got you the job, or an empty promise that got you elected or laid. While pretending to be someone you’re not isn’t something that is particularly appreciated in our world, sometimes people might feel they have to do it to survive, to get them through a difficult time. Legless has mentioned somewhere on here that we all change, grow and all leave behind who we once were, hopefully becoming better people.

I couldn’t agree with you more, Legless.

Looks like you *can* “fake it till you make it” after all, huh?

Apologies for length, I guess something about this QOTW just inspired me to share.
(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 12:15, 10 replies)
It was worth sharing.

Look after yourself mate.

(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 12:25, closed)
Many of us could identify with aspects of this post
Bloody well told and thank you for having the guts to share. I have the utmost respect for your candid approach and wish you peace and continued good mental health.

Oh, and *click*
(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 13:08, closed)
Nice work
Good story. All the best for the future.
(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 15:54, closed)
Big manly hug!

You have my utmost respect for making such a difficult journey.

Its true that we all change as we grow. I am a very different person from who I was even 5 years ago and a total stranger to the person I was 20 years ago.

The trick is to learn to grow in the right direction, It looks like you have got it.
(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 18:17, closed)
and have a mahoosive hug from me.
(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 18:38, closed)
No apology needed
*manly hugs*
(, Sat 12 Jul 2008, 21:17, closed)
* clickyhugs *
And what Tourette's ( . )( . ) said.
(, Sun 13 Jul 2008, 0:00, closed)
It's a surprisingly good feeling
knowing how easy it is to share over the anonymity of the internet, but it doesn't compare to how good kind words in reply can make you feel. Thank you for reading/listening...for a first post this is getting a lot more attention than I thought it would.
(, Sun 13 Jul 2008, 1:01, closed)
when i suggested the topic, i thought we would get a string of stories about CV lies and faked orgasms.

I didn't stop to contemplate that we would get anything this heartfelt and as beautifully expressed as this.

(, Sun 13 Jul 2008, 5:14, closed)

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