False Pretenses: The Purgatory of Our Own Making

By Peter and Helen Evans

A few nights ago we rented an old video, “Mortal Thoughts” with Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. The story goes that Demi Moore is constantly drawn back into a criminal situation to protect, to help, to be loyal to her best girlfriend who committed the crime. We keep asking ourselves throughout the movie, why does she continue to let herself be drawn back into this situation that is ruining her life? Why doesn’t she just walk away, she has threatened to disassociate herself many times, yet each and every time she goes back, “covering up the scene of the crime”. Well, it turns out she has committed her own crime, and thus has created her own purgatory.

It occurred to us that we probably all have a similar story in our lives; most of us on a much less intense level of “crime”; but nevertheless something about which we feel “guilty”, that we must “pay for our sins”.

Did you ever make a commitment to a significant other, a friend, a client, an employer “under false pretenses”? In other words, you lied to yourself and them, and so, in your own eyes “committed a crime, a sin”. Even when we don’t want to admit it; we know we weren’t being true to ourselves or them, and so, in an effort to right the wrong without “admitting” our responsibility, we put ourselves in a sort of purgatory (the place where we feel we must pay for our sins). We say and sometimes even convince ourselves that “I’m giving them one more chance”; “they need me”; “what will they do without me”, “I’m just being kind and helpful”; and on and on we give ourselves a list of reasons we must be drawn back into a situation we should never have committed to in the first place. We double lie by trying to maintain “how nice” we are and “how giving we are”; in other words covering up the scene of the crime.

Whether it is that long-standing monthly lunch appointment with someone you don’t like, working extra hours at a job you don’t like, or living a life with someone you don’t love; “confess” (admit, acknowledge) your sin (Self-Imposed Nonsense) to yourself, forgive yourself and be free.

Most of all examine these “impossible situations” to which you are drawn back again and again; where the courage to leave doesn’t seem to exist. Are you being helpful; or loving and kind; or are you in a self-imposed purgatory and dealing with false pretenses? Who are you really trying to help?

Are you creating suffering by trying to avoid pain?

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