Living a Lie

One of my colleagues was talking this morning about the man in Iowa who apparently murdered his wife and children and then drove his van into a concrete highway support. She had grown up with this guy and knew his family quite well. He was a bank vice president who had been indicted for embezzling nearly $600,000 from his employer and was scheduled to go on trial next month. The night before the murder-suicide, he took his family to Easter Mass.

My colleague said something didn’t add up because he had been told he would be looking at perhaps a year or two in prison if he were convicted. Why kill yourself over such a relatively minor consequence?

If I were a betting man, it’s not the prison time that triggered this tragedy. From all I’ve read and heard, this was a man who was respected in his community,  a churchgoing “family man.” For someone like this, reputation is everything. No one knew he was living a double life, stealing from the bank to maintain the facade of suburban bliss. When the reality was exposed, he probably felt like his life was over. Underneath that facade was a man who didn’t like himself, who didn’t feel like he could measure up without cheating. And now everyone knew.

I went through something like that when I was hospitalized for depression. At the time it felt like the big lie had been exposed: I wasn’t the strong, problem-free person I wanted everyone to believe I was.

For me, the difference is that everyone who loves me let me know that it didn’t matter to them that I was not the strong, self-contained person I wanted to be. They loved me anyway. I wonder if that guy knew that.

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One Response to Living a Lie

  1. zackc says:

    I agree. I think in many respects Americans are becoming more “shame” deterred (where perception by others is more important) than “guilt” deterred (where God or the self is the watchdog).

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