Without a doubt, while we were going through our divorce, the hardest thing for me to come to terms with was discovering the extent to which my husband had lied to me. I had to see the evidence laid out on a conference room table during a "Discovery" session before I could register his willingness and capacity to lie. The Amex bills and phone bills sat in a pile as my lawyer methodically leafed through each page, asking him questions about the money spent on travel and purchases made in the year prior with and on this woman who had been employed by us. It took seeing these receipts to shake me into the realization that my husband had been lying to me for a long time, something I did not want to believe. I had never thought of him as a liar and would not have predicted that he would lie to me. I thought of him as decent and honorable, with a conscience, knowing better, wanting to do the right thing, if not for my sake, or our children's sake, for his own care of his soul.
After 25 years, although the number is less important than the partnership that joined our hearts, our deep commitment to each other, and our having a family and a life together, I just couldn't have imagined that he would make such shallow and cowardly choices. It baffles me that he chose lies over a heart to heart, or that he wouldn't want to talk about this juncture in our relationship or try to work through it, for his own sake. That there was no care or need to come to understanding for him to feel right about moving on, that he had no desire to express love, respect or appreciation for the beauty of our family, of us together, is incomprehensible to me. He lied and left, skipped town, jumped ship, changed lanes. No remorse, no guilt, no closure, just his shadow out the door. I was left with his lying and that is what I find most disturbing. Why couldn't he have told me the truth? Nine months of marriage counseling, denying all the way through that there was someone else? Honestly, who has got the time for that, not to mention the money. More to the point, who has got the heart?
Why do people lie? During the year of my divorce, it seemed liars were popping up all over, Bernie Madoff, Elliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, John Edwards, Tiger Woods. Help! What is up with all this lying? From sociopaths to slippery characters, clearly lying is not something that makes any of us feel good to read about nor does it elevate our collective human spirit. Lying is like addiction. It is a sickness, a flaw in need of healing. If you have to lie about what you are doing, clearly it is something you need to hide about yourself, or you are not dealing with what is really going on, jumping to the next high, instead of being present to the real work needed to do within yourself. The lie is a pretty good indication your willfulness and narcissism have taken you out of the present moment and reality, for the quick stroke to the ego. Shallow and sad alternatives to being honest in a relationship with huge ramifications to a family. Lying to your wife and children and friends? Did you think these actions have no consequences to people who love and count on you? Did you think of who you may be hurting with lifelong effects because of those actions you are hiding with lies? When did everyone get so needy and self-centered? Why do we brush over this stuff and act like it isn't affecting our collective soul? Why aren't people talking about the importance of standing for decency more? There are plenty of men, and women, who know the effects of someone you loved and trusted lying to you. It is destructive on a family. It hurts the community of friends as they try to understand and make adjustments and have to deal with the pain of their friends. It makes you pause and look around and ask, is anyone else seeing what I am seeing? Do we care? Can we at least talk about it? Thank you Huff Post for creating this blog to grapple through some of this together.
Why do people tell the truth? Why do people want to tell the truth? Does it go back to our childhoods? Do we, the collective we, value the truth in relationships and have the patience and willingness to deepen them and work at them with love, or are we limited to the surface, and constantly expecting the immediate gain of pleasure or gratification? Is this the playing out of our retrograde weakening of the human spirit? Well, no, I don't believe that. I believe we are waking up to all these warning signs, uncovering and discovering how we want to treat one another. I think we are reading more about the Tigers and Bernies because we are deeply concerned and affected. Writing about, and revealing the effects of one person's lies and how they hurt families and relationships, whether it be someone famous or not, is all of us grappling with what doesn't feel right to us. We all know lying is cheap, backward, un-evolved, time wasting, and growth hindering. The truth is real, dynamic, present, painful, beautiful. The truth expresses our humanity at our most brilliant, being who we are in this moment.
I am grateful beyond words for having telling the truth ingrained in me as a child. From my Catholic school instruction which I hadn't fully appreciated until lately, that gave me a real sense of right and wrong, having to "confess sins" weekly made me think about my actions and the consequences pushing me to consider the impact of what I was doing on others, telling the truth being such a reinforced rule, all of these practices landed somewhere deep within me. The catholic education plus my parents always saying, "no matter what you did, it is always better to tell the truth." My mother saying, "don't you hear the bells ringing?" as the constant reminder to listen to, heed and develop a conscience. I am lucky that telling the truth matters to me. I am lucky that I had so much support to believe that being human, making mistakes and learning the hard way was all okay, if you told the truth, were truly sorry and tried to do better the next time. My mother would always say, "Nobody's perfect. All we can do is the best we can." That belief allowed, and allows, me to be where I am and strive to be better without the pressure to be perfect. We are all human after all.
Honesty takes courage and constant practice. Precision honesty is for those daring to be true, and those brave enough to reveal themselves for who they are, no disguises, for those individuals with a healthy understanding of themselves and a willingness to be true in all relationships. Honestly, why engage in lies, when the truth is so much more riveting and interesting and real. Clearly, lies are a symptom and an indicator of deeper problems within that person, that they are not up to telling the truth. Sometimes lying is the best a person can do. My husband did the best he could, and now I am a little closer to accepting that. In discovering his lies, I found my truth, realizing what had been there all along.