Truth and Lies

You are sitting there comfortably in the shop. The aroma of coffee permeates your lungs, the smell is as much relaxing as it is intoxicating to you. It’s why you choose to go there every morning, but that isn’t the only reason. She goes there.

You’ve been talking to her regularly for the past month. She’s wonderful, the vision of everything that you’ve ever dreamed of. And she likes you.

The problem is that you’re married. Not only that, you’ve been lying to your wife consistently about where you’ve been going and why.

And then the girl you’ve been waiting for steps in… followed by your wife.

Discomfort comes easy to me thinking about that. For instance, I don’t like watching a show or movie, or reading a book where the character knowingly lies, then lies to cover the lie, spinning a web that they have trouble keeping track of, much like the story above. There’s plenty of ways that I could rewrite that story to make any of the characters there more sympathetic, or to justify the lie or even make it more damning. Suffice to say, it’s still a lie that is at the center of it.

I prefer honesty. That’s not to say that I am some bastion of honest report. What it is saying is that I would rather tell the truth or not anything at all.

Truth itself can be muddy, subjective, and illusive, but that’s another topic.

Telling the truth, or trying to adhere to it, is a difficult task. It is easy too. Because lies are stressful. I lived a similar situation in my life nearing two decades ago. Marriage was the next step, but I was not happy. My fiancé was blindsided by the suddenness of it all when my lying caught up to a point where I could not carry them any longer. Since then, it’s been tough for me to accept lies, the feelings from those days nearly as palpable today.

There’s stress in trying to keep track of all the lies. And the explosion that occurs when the lies come to their natural end is most often terrible. Karma is a great way to equate what I am talking about.

Again, telling the truth is tough. We all lie to some degree or another, often about very simple, dismissive things. Think: “I love that gift you got me! Thank you!” when the truth is that the gift was hardly more than a banal gift, hardly worth noting. But we don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. Lying in those ways is harmless (or is it?).

The most insidious lies are the ones we tell ourselves. It’s the stories that we create to justify a narrative to keep us away from the truth. We convince ourselves that the lies are OK, so much so that we even begin to see these falsities as truth. Then, to protect ourselves, we dig in. Trenches are constructed of what becomes a battlefield where truth is mowed down in an effort to protect the lies we’ve constructed.

Correcting for the lies that we tell others often begins with addressing the lies we tell ourselves. Many times we don’t want to address these lies as it means stepping out from the safety of the trenches. That’s damn well dangerous. But what lies on the other side when we are truthful with ourselves is growth, and though growth is painful, it can be eternally rewarding.

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