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“I’ve been in and out of therapy for years. I’ve told you, Susan, about this, and I’ve told you, too, Ellie, though I preferred to stay vague about the reasons. I hope none of you ever knows what it is like to live with serious anxiety. What it’s like is never to feel confident about the most trivial meeting, plan, friendship. It’s hell, let me assure you. I still hope to conquer this anxiety, to live something resembling a normal life. That’s my self-deception, and I’m sticking with it.”

Sheila had no responders.

“As our host,” said Ellie, looking at me, “you’re our closer, Eric. What’s your greatest self-deception?”

“Less than an hour or so ago I might have said that my greatest self-deception was the belief that I was charming, that I could get on with anybody and everybody, and that this was the secret behind my modest success in the home-improvements business. But now I’m not so sure. Now, after this Self-Deception game I wonder if my greatest self-deception wasn’t that for all these years I thought we six all knew and loved one another. I also thought I had a relatively happy wife, which maybe turns out to be my biggest self-deception of all.

“Would it be another self-deception on my part to say I like to think we’ll recover from this evening? Meanwhile, when the six of us gather at the end of next month for our usual New Year’s Eve Party, I’m going to lead off our round of annual new year’s resolutions by resolving that we never, ever play this goddam dangerous Self-Deception game again.” 
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