I’m about to tell you some very personal information about me—and, I suppose, about the people I came to know, came to trust, and in the last seven years, came to question. In this years-long unearthing of myself, I have obsessively studied human nature, individual motivations, inviolable loyalties, and painful betrayals. And I had all the material I needed thanks to having just lived through a series of powerful and painful human experiences.
In some ways, I resent these last seven years that left me distracted from marriage, my children, and my practice of law. And yet, those seven years were threaded through with so much worthy study and deep inquiry that I was finally able to answer the most persistent and ultimately the most meaningful question of them all: “Is it safe?”
Now that I have arrived at a strong “probably, let’s give it a try,” I believe that I have accomplished something remarkable: I’ve identified, admitted to, and made peace with two (of my many) immutable character flaws.
Character Flaw No. One:
I am easily persuaded by charismatic, smooth-talkers who put forth reasonable arguments that convince me to change my mind from a logical and committed position (on really any matter, be it trivial or important) to the drastic and diametrically opposed position held by said smooth-talker (on the same said matter, regardless of the degree of import). In short: I’m helpless in the face of a well-constructed verbal argument.
(*Please note that this weakness is peculiarly limited to the spoken word; I usually hold my own pretty well against the written ones.)
Character Flaw No. Two:
I care what people think of me. A lot. Too much. And this means that I tend to judge the quality of my character by how people treat me and what people say about me, especially if what is said is critical, unjust, or simply mean. But then the character flaw really comes into its own when, perversely, in some act of self-loathing, I take the position that “the haters” must be able to see something I don’t, something worthy of their hate.
(*Please note that in rare instances, I have the capacity to forgive these gossip mongers by conducting a thought experiment wherein I adopt the belief that the awful words are forgivable because they are based on bad intel and/or lies, and therefore the gossip monger is literally ignorant, and therefore arguably blameless. FWIW: That row’s been getting harder to hoe, and maybe is one of the many motivations behind this community memoir endeavor of mine.)
So now, go back to March 2013 and combine these two pervasive character flaws, and then mix in:
14 years of marriage (That’s two “seven-year itches.”)
4 elementary-school-aged children
1 existential crisis (E.g., I started riding a motorcycle.)
And then let that mixture simmer on low—with the heat generated from some other-worldly spontaneous combustion—until you have the most imperfect, most desperate, most naive, most motivated candidate that my hometown had ever seen.
Join me, starting on Monday, as I dissect the human psyche. (I’ll be starting with mine.)
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