I’m upset that now I can’t believe you.
When I was a kid I used to lie. I lied, mostly, about my mom. I said she was ok when she wasn’t; I said I was okay when I wasn’t; I said I couldn’t go to friends’ homes because I was busy when I wasn’t – I was hiding bruises; I said I couldn’t go places because I had to study – the truth was that I couldn’t go because my mom wouldn’t let me leave the house when her medicines made her delusional and she was afraid to be alone.
So I lied. And I did a great job at hiding things. I was a professional actress without any benefits.
When I left home I stopped lying, or at least I tried. Oh, I lied about my age. I needed to be 18 to rent an apartment, but because I was 16 I had to lie. I lied to my boss when I said I was okay living alone. Truthfully, I was afraid that I wouldn’t earn enough money to cover all of my bills. I was a kid worrying about being an adult and I thought that was okay. So the lies continued but they were ‘good’ lies because they didn’t hurt anyone. I rationalized the lying.
I lied when I told my professors that I was okay and that the reason I was so often tired in class was because I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep because I worked two jobs but I didn’t want anyone to think I didn’t belong at school. And I didn’t want anyone to think I needed help.
So I got even better at lying.
I did a good job at not lying for a few years after I married A’s dad. Then I lied again. I said we were happy when we weren’t.
So I stopped lying and got divorced.
I went years without lying and then I got remarried. I lied when I said I thought we were making the right decision after 9/11 and I lied when I said I was happy. Or that “The Runner” was happy. We weren’t. So we lied. And together we created a life built on a public lie and a private truth.
For the past two years I haven’t had to lie. Well, that’s what I tell myself and yet I often feel like I have to lie for others.
It isn’t fun.
Now here comes the alternate version of ‘it isn’t fun.’ I know other people lie and I say it doesn’t matter – but then I saw this TED talk and was reminded that lying hurts even when you say it doesn’t.
As adults we have these real opportunities to lie or be lied to – and we’ve probably made decisions we’ve regretted more often than not. I regret things all the time, even though I try to make decisions that don’t need second-guessing. What I love about this TED video is that Ms. Meyers isn’t really suggesting anything so extraordinary – she’s saying we can choose to lead lives that are filled with more honesty than not. She’s also saying that once someone has shown contempt for you – believe they mean it.
I’m always thinking people don’t really mean to be hurtful. I don’t know where I learned this, but time and time again I keep hearing myself say that and it’s like this belief I can’t shake. So maybe I’m still lying.
And I’ve watched so many of my friends deal with liars in their most intimate relationships and it seems pretty clear. Stay away from liars. So why is it so hard?
If a lie only becomes truth when one person believes – maybe the time to make a change is the moment your gut tells you the train really is coming – and it’s heading straight for your head.
I don’t know. I just know that these TED talks always make me think.