The American Horror Story
It’s a great show. One of my faves, this American Horror Story, the show quenching the thirst of our macabre hearts. I’m dying to see Season 3.
And what twisted hearts we have. We’re prone to masochism in the face of happiness. We’re worst-case-scenario seekers. We put on brave faces when we’re self-conscious and insecure. We ignore troubles but let them haunt us. We hear things as we wish to hear them, not as they are. Our minds are ghosts, chasing us from the truth in hopes of making us happy.
In a world tangled with double-entendre, irony, metaphor, lies, and abstraction, we create our own realities–realities that hide from truths, from pains, from memories that we wish not to remember but somehow must torture ourselves with anyway.
Nothing is more dangerous in our American horror story than our creativity, our ability to fill in the gaps, to interpret, to remember.
The real American Horror Story is False Memory.
My now-ex boyfriend and I recently ended an 8-month relationship. I fell madly in love with him last summer, and he, me. But our road was too rocky, and for the good of us both, we walked away. The wound on my heart is fresh and infected.
So what happens now?
Think about when your heart was last broken. It’s hard for you to recall the intensity of the pain. Yes, you can say with conviction and in truth that you were devastated by your loss, but the loss is now behind you, and time has healed something. You’re able to go on with your life despite incredible tragedy because our minds make it so. Once we’re in that final stage of death, acceptance, our mind decides that to maintain our bodies, our sense of being, maybe our dignity, it must give in. It must let go the things that harm our sanity. This is as true in the death of our physical selves as it is in the death of our longing.
Acceptance, though, proceeds a step necessary and cruel, an awful thing we call denial. And when this happens, we realize it only when it’s over.
This is what we name false memory.
My boyfriend and I have been apart now for three weeks, and I still can’t stomach the pain. I make trips to the bathroom to throw up, I cry endlessly into my pillows, and I’ve almost completely withdrawn my sense of humor. I’m no fun to be around.
And how will I get out of this? They say time will heal my pain, and I know it plays a role, yes, but what gets us out is us–it’s our minds that relinquish our hearts to the inevitable in order to make us happy, to keep us sane. But before it gives up it puts up a fight none of us wants to have…
When we broke up, I knew it was the right thing to do. I didn’t feel any pain right away. I was happier for a few days, maybe. My mind was close enough to the truth that I understood why breaking up was for the best.
But my mind has taken a turn. It’s created for me false memories, false interpretations of how things were, in an effort to make me happy again. I remember our arguments now and look upon them with sadness, with regret. If only I would’ve said THIS, I think, If I said THIS or done THAT things would be better! We’d still be together! I forget in these moments how I really felt then, how right I knew it was in the moment to say what I did because it was how I felt. These arguments in objectivity weren’t irrational. They were raw expressions of true emotion, however painful those emotions were.
My false memory then is a misinterpretation of the past. I remember things being better than they were. And this hurts. It makes me want something I never had.
My mind, with these false memories, is trying to protect me from the truth. It knows that I want happiness and it mistakenly but purposely pretends my past was better than it was. It knows not that this well-meaning gesture actually hurts more than the alternative. My mind then wants for my heart a happy ending.
Our creativity–our ability to manufacture our own realities and pasts–is the thing that makes us human, flawed and brilliant. It makes life more beautiful than it seems, and more tragic than it is. It’s the thing that makes us ironic masochists, looking for happiness while breaking our own hearts in the process.
And this is our American Horror Story: an attempt at a fairy tale with an ignorance of truth.
Justin Jones is a columnist for Lavender Magazine, Guy Magazine, and Florida Agenda Newspaper. He writes about things like being alive, being in love, and drinking too much. Facebook.com/JustinJonesWriter.
“I’m not letting his misogyny define me, define my daughter or define my community.”April 21, 2017
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