Friday, February 1, 2008

Little white lies are still lies

All my life I have struggled with telling the truth. This is not something I am proud to put into writing. I remember the first time I got caught telling big lies. I was attending a Catholic school, in the fourth grade, and when we got graded tests back, we were to bring them home and have them signed by our parents. I can't remember the subject, (I'm leaning towards it being History) but anyway, I failed a number of tests and I could not bear the thought of having to bring those failing grades home and having to face the disappointment of my parents and so I did the next best thing and forged their signatures.

I don't know what possessed me to do this or think I could get away with it, but I suppose at the time, I thought I was clever enough to outsmart everyone. I got away with the forgery until my report card came home and there was a big fat D glaring out at all of us and my parents wanted to know why they hadn't been informed. It all came out then, the forged signatures (and I remember practicing writing my mother's name so I was pretty calculated in my deception), and my terrible lies. I know my parents were tremendously angry with me for a very long time and I also know that I continued to justify my behavior to myself by saying I did it to spare THEM. I am older now and I know without question that I did it to spare ME.

I would like to say that this little incident was a light bulb moment for me and that I never again told another lie but that would be untrue. I have continued to skirt around issues and tell little white lies when I have felt cornered and when I have felt that it would be to my advantage to omit the truth. I've tried to figure out why it is that I choose to tell lies instead of the truth. I think it has to do with not wanting to deal with people being angry with me. I think I believe in my deepest of hearts that there are some people who do not really want to hear the truth if it's not what they want to hear and so I tell them what I think they want to hear instead of what is real.

My husband hates it when I carry around a lot of cash so he will ask me how much cash I have on me and even though I know I have $100 on me, I will tell him $40 because I know that he won't start in on a lecture. I know that $40 will be an acceptable amount according to his estimations and so that's the number I give him. I tell myself we can both feel good this way--he can feel like I'm not carrying a lot of cash and I get spared the tirade I'm not in the mood to listen to anyway. It's a win-win in my eyes even though I know that at the core of it all I am not being honest. It's not that he would begrudge me spending that money anyway. It's just that he thinks it's stupid to carry cash and I don't happen to feel that way. I could give you a truckload of ways I am dishonest like this. The lies slip out easier than you would imagine.

I try hard not to lie about big things but that's such a subjective statement. Who am I to qualify lies, to measure them out and say which ones are acceptable and which ones are not, which ones are little and which ones are big? There are probably people who are horrified that I lie about the cash I carry while I go around telling myself it's no big deal. I also give myself points for fessing up if I get caught in lies. I'm not afraid to admit that I've lied if I've been caught or if I feel too guilty and rat myself out. At night I ask to be forgiven for those things and I also ask for help in being a better person because I think each day is a new chance for me to start with a clean slate and that makes me feel hopeful about maybe being able to actually achieve that goal some day.

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