Friday, January 18, 2013

Looking for love on all the wrong web sites.

I have never actually fallen in love with anyone on-line.  I did fall in love with one woman I met on-line.  What I knew about her from our on-line relationship badly misled me in the off-line relationship.  Had I known her only off-line I never would have fallen for her.  The obstacles to our relationship working were clearly apparent when we were off-line.  We got along really well on-line.

So, I know a bit of the territory in which this Manti Te'o story takes place.

I don't believe that he is an innocent victim.  I believe he is an emotionally troubled young man.  I also know that territory.  I see a young man traumatized by the death of his grandmother.  I see a young man who is having trouble navigating his internal shame.  He is an over-achiever, not only does he excel in athletics, he does charity work and is active in a church with very rigid standards of behavior for developing young men, a church with it's own history of institutionalized acting-out (like so many others) around issues of love and sexual relations.  He is trying to make the case that he is good, desperately, with overkill and extreme attachment to high visibility affirmations of his good character.  He got the University of Notre Dame to give him the thumbs up, fer chrissake.  He wants everyone to regard him as a Nice Guy, and he does 10 times what anyone needs to do to make the point.

It is interesting to me that this is taking place as Lance Armstrong confesses on Oprah.  Lance similarly went to extremes to prove that he is really a Nice Guy.  He founded a cancer charity that has a very good reputation as a funding source in cancer research!  He's saving lives!  I could also make a similar case for what Bill Gates has done with his money.  Bill Gates knows he cheated, colluded, and ruined a lot of good things in order to get any advantage whatsoever for Microsoft.  He's trying to convince everyone he's a Nice Guy with The Gates Foundation.

Manti Te'o can't really confess what he's done until he is ready to accept that he is an okay guy just as he is, with all of his anger about whatever he didn't get growing up, with whatever toxic disapproval he has internalized from his father, as a lying cheat, trying to raise his visibility as an athlete by playing the role of pious, ever-giving martyr for a girlfriend he loved with mythic depth and sincerity without ever having to lay a hand upon her cute little tush.  I know this territory too.

Until he is ready to recognize that he shares the same doubts and insecurities with all of humanity and fully take up his role as a man, he can't tell us what he really did.  And he won't.

But, he's a football player, and we should just leave him alone.