Tuesday, March 06, 2007

When no one is watching

Being duplicitous is a mixed bag. The most obvious effect is that I created a pattern of loosening up my values when nobody was watching. They were still my values, and I still believed in them... but repeatedly edging across the border of behavior's acceptable limit (and never getting caught) allowed me to feel increasingly comfortable with things I should have been ashamed of. Basically, I numbed up my conscience because I was getting all the rewards and no notable negative consequences.

When no one was watching I looked at porn. When no one was watching I considered the possibility of meeting someone for anonymous sex. I started looking at online personals. Somehow, despite that I'm a principled person, I got myself to throw everything I believed temporarily away while I flirted with arousing alternative options. I lost track of what was really off limits by repeatedly violating my own standards. Would I then stop with looking? Would I stop with kissing? Would I stop anywhere? Yes, probably, but nothing was certain when I was (am?) my other self.

There have been some good things from duplicity. I didn't throw away my faith in the name of being "authentic". Sure, avoiding duplicity is a good thing, but not necessarily if the approach is to kill the virtuous part of myself and declare the licentious part the "real" me. People still treat me as if I am a principled person, so I believe them. And, yes, my mistakes represent the "real" me in a sense, but not the me I want to become or the me I believe that I am most fundamentally. Perpetually reinventing myself as a better person rather than accepting whatever "realities" may be is the province of repentance and a principle that I try to let guide my life.

For better or for worse, I don't want other people to define me. I want to define myself. And because I know the self I want to be, it would be nice if I had the personal integrity and strength to always behave the same way when I'm alone that I would if my parents were standing next to me.


playasinmar said...

"Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true." -Demosthenes

For better or for worse we are what we are seen to be. Self identity is a reflection of others opinions. Self identification, therefore, requires exagerating certain facets of ourselves and hiding others.

John Galt said...

To me, duplicity is the raging battle between my natural man and my Celestial spirit. I think Mormon culture unintentionally breeds duplicity. We are all striving to be perfect. The bar is set very very high. And the truth is we do WANT to be that person, our Celestial selves. But the natural man is STRONG within us. And Satan is clever.

And really, our demons are personal. We shouldn't be going around publicizing our struggles anyway. But I have found that the key is HONESTY with MYSELF, ownership of my actions and true repentance & humility. When I do something wrong or disgusting, I often tell myself in weakness "that is not me." I compartmentalize the action and don't deal with it. And then portray a completely solid outward appearance. What I really need to do is be more humble. And take owndership of my faults & sins. It is almost IMPOSSIBLE for me to admit to someone the darker side of myself. Because I am hiding him even from myself. I feel shameful and disgusted with that side of myself. I am always impressed and feel akin to those who are less judgemental and prideful, admitting that they have weaknesses and are not caught up in the charade of perfection.

Thanks for being so honest L.

TK said...

As I read this post, I kept thinking of the story about the man who said he felt like he had two dogs inside of him, fighting. When asked which one was winning, he replied, "Which ever one I feed."