Being honest is tough for most people. There are some aspects of ourselves that we wish could stay hidden. No one is perfect; and that desire to preserve some anonymity in this very public world is understandable. Sadly, some people take this to an extreme.
I'm pretty sure most of us have watched or heard of the documentary "Catfish" or have seen the MTV spin-off show it inspired. It's about people pretending to be someone or something they're not online. These lies are often created in the hope of making someone fall in love with this fake persona. It's shocking how many people this has happened to and is happening to right now. I've never been able to admit this before, and only one other person knows this, but I was Catfished by someone. This wasn't a recent occurrence, however, it has affected almost every aspect of my life for years.
A online friendship turned into this enormous web of emotions and lies. I ended up falling for a fake person, hook, line and sinker. When I found out that I was being lied to for so long, I didn't even know what to do with myself. When this happens to you, you feel so many emotions all at once. There's the initial shock, but the aftershock is what really gets to you. You end up feeling embarrassed, ashamed, used, violated and worthless. Someone you don't know at all, broke into the most sacred aspect of your being. A complete stranger made their way into your heart and corrupted it with their vile lies. Those lies are like a virus that starts out small, but ends up attacking all the healthy cells in your body. These lies drain you, and even after the liar has left your life, they're still in your body. You constantly feel like at any moment, they could return; and you could once again be infected.
This fear consumes you. Even if you try to move on, the paranoia still lingers. After my Catfish ordeal, my entire life changed. Even though the liar was gone for good, there was this disgusting residue of them that permeated into every pore of my body. My real relationships were greatly affected, and not for the good. Looking back now, I can see that. I ruined the only real shot at love I ever had, because I was afraid to get close to someone. I was scared that if I opened myself up to another person, it would once again blow up in my face, and I would be hurt again.
I broke up with the only person I've ever actually loved because I was scared that they'd end up hurting me. The reason I gave them for breaking up was "I need to find myself." That wasn't really a lie, because I did feel lost. I felt trapped inside my own body. But the main reason for this breakup was fear. I'd rather be alone and miserable, than give myself completely to someone and end up broken again. When I ended this relationship, I feel like I was right on the cusp of falling completely, headlong, no turning back in love. I mean I already loved that person, but I was almost to the point of giving myself completely to them. Offering up every ounce me that I had guarded. When I realized that I was about to fall, I panicked. That virus of hurt and distrust made it's way into my heart. So instead of making myself completely vulnerable, I shut down. And closed the chapter of my life that could have turned into the most perfect of novels.
Since then, I've stumbled through broken and meaningless relationships. I guess I was trying to fill the void I created when I let go of the person who had been holding me together. But I'm done with that now. I'm tired of letting someone who I never even knew, ruin what should be the best times of my life. I'm going to step into the fire, and burn every remnant of this virus from my body. Then I will emerge from these ashes, stronger than I ever was before. I may never find someone who I loved as much as the person I let go, but I think I'm okay with that. I at least got to experience real love for a short time. If there's anything good that could come from this, I hope it's that I can help at least one person, somewhere.
If you've been Catfished, you're not alone. And if you are a Catfish, maybe reading this will open your eyes. Sure, lying to someone online is going to hurt that person; but ultimately, you're hurting yourself the most. If you can make someone fall for a fake person, that you've created, why wouldn't someone fall for the real you? You deserve someone who will love you for you, not the gorgeous model you're pretending to be online. We're all worthy of something real and honest. Don't fall into this web of lies, because eventually, you're going to get stuck with no way out. If you care about someone, let them know, and let it come from the real you. Life is too short for lies.
Be yourself, and know that YOU are enough.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.