Lies: a confession

by | May 5, 2012

This post was imported from an old blog I used to have.

I’m a liar.

Lying comes naturally to me. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. I’m not exactly proud of this fact, but I also don’t see it as being a major character flaw (OK, that’s a lie. It is a flaw, otherwise I wouldn’t be trying to justify it).

My ability to lie makes me a good actor. I can be very convincing. I think it comes from having a good imagination. I know I started lying when I was a kid. I’m not sure where I learned the skill, but it drove my parents crazy. I can’t even count the number of times I was told the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Life lessons from mom and dad.

The lying I do isn’t mean to harm. It’s not malicious. Perhaps it’s my own version of a social experiment. Testing people to see what I can get away with.

As an adult, the lies I tell are insignificant, and usually relieve me of some kind of discomfort. The so-called Little White Lie. If I don’t want to see someone I will fabricate a fiction about another commitment (you know you are a true friend if I’m willing to admit to you that I don’t feel like hanging out or talking to you); maybe I call in sick to work when I’m really just tired. Or I’ll answer a question the way I think you want me to respond, rather than how I really feel. I’ve been weaning myself off of these little lies over the years. As I age it seems that I care less about pretending to be someone I’m not, and am finally becoming more comfortable with the reality that I’m not perfect, I can’t please everyone, and that’s alright.

I often think that the worst lies are the ones I tell myself: I’m happy with my life. Everything is fine. This is as much as I’m going to get and I’m satisfied with that. Complacency. Comfort. Calm. These lies build over time, forming a cushion around me, and I know that if I don’t start poking some holes, one of these days it’s going to explode. It won’t be pretty.

So, OK. I’m convinced that lying isn’t an admirable quality, but it’s also not necessarily a terrible attribute. Especially if I’m willing to acknowledge it, be aware of its power and strive to keep it under control.

But recently I did something horrible. I lied to someone I care about.

It was a lie of omission. I failed to impart some very important and time-sensitive information.

I’m not entirely sure how it happened. Looking back, I could try to blame the unique situation, the fact that a great deal of alcohol and ego were involved, but the fact is, I should have stopped and said something. I needed to speak and I didn’t.

So, when I realized that I fucked up, what did I do? Did I take a deep breath, summon up my inner strength and face the truth (and consequences)? No. I did not. And for me, struggling to understand this lie and the fallout surrounding it, that is the hardest part to accept.

I can accept that I made a mistake, as awful as it was, in my original omission. I make mistakes. But to continue that lie, especially to this person who means a lot to me, when given the opportunity to confess? I believe they call this feeling guilt.

But guilt and shame are not useful emotions. They succeed in making me feel bad, but offer nothing in the way of redemption and no way out. It’s OK to feel them, but there is no point in dwelling on them. Acknowledge. Accept. Keep Going.

So I did. I finally found the courage to tell the truth. The whole truth. It was hard. I wish I had done it sooner, but at least I did it. It hurt him. That is the worst part. I couldn’t keep him from being hurt, and I hated knowing that I was the cause, but you know what? He didn’t break. He didn’t hate me. And most importantly, he didn’t run.