this month's topic for Just Another Collab: lies.
Pot, Meet Kettle
if there is one thing i cannot stomach, it's lying. where's the point? if you're not willing to own up to your actions, then don't take those actions in the first place. lying only hurts people.
boy, that's a self-righteous stance, isn't it? we all lie. little lies, big lies, white lies, 'keep the party a secret' lies... we all do it. i do it. but my first reaction when someone mentions lying is 'don't do it. it sucks.'
you might wonder why i react so strongly. or, you might not. maybe it makes sense. for those of you who wonder, there are several reasons. i've written a little bit about one of them before. having your life tied up with someone who is a compulsive liar and verbally abusive tends to mess with your head just a little bit. you wonder at what point you could have seen the damage and walked away. could you have known from the beginning? should you have known? was it apparent to everyone else from the start? or did they just catch on faster than you did? and i felt stupid for a long time after that. let me tell you, stupid knows no boundaries. it takes over every part of your life. how i pulled out the grades i did that last year in college is beyond me. how i faced my family and friends is beyond me. i had fought them every step of the way, denying what they could see more clearly than i could. and that hurt.
here's the subtle nastiness of being involved with a compulsive liar: you start to do it, too. your self-worth and, in some cases, your safety are tied up in defending this other person. you cover for them. you make excuses. you lie. out and out lie to the people you care about the most. and you lie to yourself. really, that's what it comes down to. you lie to yourself in order to make the day bearable. you do anything to avoid facing the brutal truth - that you misjudged someone, and missed badly. and in that avoidance, you become just like them.
in the end, you wonder if maybe you weren't the worse person. maybe he had a compulsion, maybe he couldn't help it. maybe it was calculated on his part from the beginning. in either case, he did it purely to hurt others and defend himself. but when you lied? you chose to defend this person to protect him and hurt those you love. does that make you lower? does that make your lying worse?
even now, nearly 15 years later, i still struggle with this. it's too painful to write about in the first person. i tried to rewrite the last few paragraphs, because that's me up there, talking about me. and i couldn't do it.
some of my friends have said that i'm too hard on myself, by and large. so, i had a bad relationship. i got out of it, and hopefully learned some lessons, and that should be enough. but it's never that clear cut. while my take on organized religion is somewhat loosely defined these days, i do believe. and i do have an ethical core that comes from my religious upbringing. part of that core says Thou Shalt Not Lie. it's basically not a good thing, which my personal experience more than confirms. every time i lie about something, i wonder if i'm slipping into becoming more like the person who damaged me so badly that many years ago, and i castigate myself for violating that ethical core.
i guess what it comes down to, for me, is intent. i've lied any number of times to *not* hurt someone. unless you're my best friend to whom i can say anything, i will tell you that your haircut looks fabulous. that sort of thing, i think, seems kinder than the truth sometimes. and in that instance, it doesn't really matter much. i have lied, once or twice, in order to hurt someone. or, more, to exaggerate what would already have been painful. those moments are the ones that make me cringe. i usually find some justification at the time (along the lines of 'well, they're meaner than me!') which would never really hold up in a reasoned discussion. and yet, i still do it. 'Methinks the lady doth protest too much.' that's the crux. i react strongly to the idea and act of lying because i see in myself that which i do not like.
::sigh:: my knee-jerk reaction is to see things in black and white. if i do (this thing), then i become like (that person) who also did (this thing). forget that i'm lumping various flavours of (this thing) together. but as i get older, the world seems very grey. there are reasons other than not wanting to get grounded that justify fudging the truth. well, hang on - yes, i really am old enough not to get grounded. but that was often why i, um, 'reorganized the facts' when i was younger. amazing how long that stuff stays with you, doesn't it? *g* i'm not saying i'm proud, necessarily, of some of the things i've said, then or now. but as the ever fantabulous Eddie Izzard pointed out once, there really should be levels of perjury, as we have levels of murder. there's Perjury One, (and i can't remember, but he said something really bad), and there's Perjury Nine, where you said you shagged your neighbor when you didn't. perhaps i should move a little further down the road of accepting the grey middle where life is actually lived.