Years ago, my husband relayed to his father, how I had fallen asleep, in the midst of a conversation (one sided apparently) right before bed. He said, “She looked me in the eyes, smiled, bobbed her head, and nodded off right in the middle of my sentence!” My father-in-law laughed and said to him, “Son, that’s a great thing! Your wife obviously has a very clear conscience!” God bless him. That’s one measure I use in determining whether I am conducting my life in an honest manner. No secrets tapping at my subconscious, trying to get my attention and keeping me awake. I’m a terrible liar too. I’m not sure if my nose grows to ginormous proportions, or canary feathers are peeking out from the edges of my mouth, but most anyone can tell, at a glance, if there is a lie bubbling up in this being. I can’t seem to hide it.
Nonetheless, there is a from of dishonesty I have been guilty of. I only recently became aware of it so, I’m not going to sentence myself to anything dreadful. You have to know it’s a crime before you can be convicted, and I plead insanity. I used to think remaining silent when people hurt me, or were crossing boundaries, was a positive thing; turning the other cheek was an attribute, right? What a loving, kind person I was! Sigh....the sacrificial martyr; post death I would surely be nominated for sainthood for my generous gift...of.... inauthenticity. Someone special told me a year or so ago, not speaking up and telling people the truth about what we need, or how we feel, is the same as lying about who we are. I was shocked. A rewind of the past revealed the damage I did to myself not honestly acknowledging my feelings, and to others, in never really letting them know me.
The news last week focused on some over the top lies and shocking betrayals. Real whoopers. The kind of lies that destroy lives and leave people stunned in trying to reconcile if they ever really knew the perpetrator. Hitler said, “If you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed. These liars, haven’t just lied, they’ve lived it for a long, long time... I think they’ve also existed in that space for so many years, they do believe they’re above accountability, repercussions, or making amends of any kind. Their internal gauge for right and wrong isn’t just broken... it’s missing. Time Magazine this week used a pig to represent the cover story in speaking about these entitled men and their lack of empathy toward others. I think it’s an insult to the poor pig. At least a pig can plead ignorance. They aren’t the brightest barnyard animal in the pen.
First we have Strauss-Kahn who allegedly raped the chambermaid in the hotel room, where he was a guest. He saw absolutely nothing wrong with selfishly indulging in sex with the frightened woman. It was consensual, according to him. She just happened to walk right into his penis as he was toweling off from a shower, and I'm sure couldn’t resist the allure of this 60 something year old man's body. This is not the first time he has been bold enough to help himself as, sadly, his third wife, turns a blind eye and defends him and his despicable, narcissistic behavior. Then, we have “The Terminator”, Arnold Swartzneggar, who proceeded to annihilate his political career, his credibility and most important his wife, and children. We aren’t talking about merely an indiscretion here, or an affair. We are talking about years of deception, betrayal and dishonesty. Happily, his wife has chosen to be an example to other woman in refusing to believe she is worthy of that kind of treatment. Love or not, she will move forward post grief and be a happier, stronger, person recognizing that true love doesn’t ask that we live with secrets, selfishness, and shame.
It would seem that lies come in all shapes and sizes exploding in degrees of damage. I’m not sure the lies we tell by not being authentic are spiritually different from the lies we tell others to get something we want. Both are equally damaging to human souls. Both are connected with an underlying theme of a fear based life.... Fear that we aren’t enough, or that we won’t get enough. We lie when we’re afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.
Lying is a selfish act which robs others of their choices. Whether it strips an individual of the facts and clarity in whether or not to leave a marriage or relationship, or the right to make an informed choice about who we have sex with; or simply, the basic information in allowing others to decide whether they want to be our friend or not.
I sat in a support group meeting last week and a gentleman made this statement, "I learned I didn’t lie because I was a dishonest person, I lied because I was afraid."
We must recognize, we are all human, we are, who we are, and that's plenty good enough. We all make mistakes and the best we can do is honestly amend them and try not to repeat them. Until we learn to live with that truth, we will continue to live in fear. And, as long as we live in fear, we'll lie.
These days, I am trying my best to set up housekeeping with authenticity and joy. Fear has been banished to those stronger than I am to haul around that baggage.