Truth can be painful. And human beings are less driven by the pursuit of pleasure than by the avoidance of pain. Many Americans have yet to discover the truth of what happened to them and their country over the last three years, and I suspect I know why: They can’t handle the truth.

Trauma is simply too much reality. For those who continued to live in reality since 2020, the ugliness of what they saw disturbed them. Every day was filled with yet another distortion, another deception, another needless loss of liberty and imposition of gratuitous harm. The pain, though, was titrated. For these Americans, by the beginning of 2023, their immune systems had been exposed to so much cumulative reality that the recent truth dumps on masks, shots, and school closures barely raised their emotional temperatures. They had looked the monster in the face thousands of times—it no longer held any power over them.

For others, though, reality came swift and hard. They choose the easy route. They complied, followed orders, judiciously raised their fists in indignation whenever a curious mind challenged the logic of the “experts.” They wove a cocoon around themselves and their families and went into intellectual hibernation. Just as they refused to expose themselves to the natural environment, complying time and again with the injection of toxins with the promise of protection from a now-extinct Chinese respiratory virus, they guaranteed the weakening of their natural immune system and its inability to respond to ubiquitous pathogens. These Americans refused to face mental and emotional reality. They created a fantasy world where covering their faces with dirty cloth would keep them safe and never leaving their houses would prolong their lives. They chose to abuse their children by chaining them to a Zoom screen in the bedroom. They destroyed their friendships. They abandoned their parents. For three years, they rejected reality entirely, so much so that their minds lost the ability to engage with it.

When you ignore your credit card bills, the payments don’t go away. They accumulate. Interest builds. Eventually, the payment you must make to cover your expenditures may be too much to bear. The same can be said about truth. When you don’t live in it day to day, eventually you face a bill that you may find yourself unable to pay. The emotional equivalent of that is trauma.

No one wants to experience trauma. When faced with the discovery of three years of truth that lay waste to the countless lies that have defined one’s recent life, it is a rational choice to avoid the trauma and reject the truth. There are readily available avenues for this: the New York Times, the LA Times, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, teachers’ union rallies. They are like drug dealers for the addict. They deal in lies to postpone the withdrawal. They provide an easy out for every American who listened to the experts and destroyed his life, his family, his community. They encourage the reality avoidant to follow the example of the abused wife who, after each beating by her cruel husband, proudly announces, “But I know he loves me.”

No, he doesn’t love you. He is sick. He may be evil. He is certainly criminal. Discovering this truth is traumatic. It is also, unfortunately, unavoidable. If you don’t face it, one day you may take a beating that you do not walk away from. Many Americans already have. The country is littered with the bodies of those who ignored reality and embraced the counsel of experts. The St. Anthony Fauci candles continue to burn in the mausoleums of those he murdered. Those victims have succeeded in indefinitely postponing the trauma of discovering the truth. For everyone else, the opportunity to return to reality awaits them. The price of entry, though, may be trauma.