We think we know the ones we love, and though we should not be surprised to find that we don’t, it is heartbreak nonetheless. It is the hardest kind of knowledge, not only about another but about ourselves. To see our lives as fiction we have written and believed.
That’s the opening of the new novel The Story of a Marriage, as found in this review.
Admitting to ourselves that we were terribly, terribly wrong about something is never easy. This is particularly difficult when it involves an errant character judgment. The quote above refers to love. It is also true about friendship. When, two years into a friendship, I discover I’ve dramatically mis-understood or mis-judged some aspect of a person’s character (say the person is a compulsive liar and I just missed it) I am less angry at the friend and more angry at myself for failing to see it. And it makes me less certain in my other reads of people. If I was so wrong about Bob, could I also be missing something in Joe?
Since I’m a people person, honing my ability to size people up — my ability to get a sense for someone’s value system, ethical sense, etc — is an on-going challenge.