“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.”
One thing I have learned in life is this: we lie. Often. And sometimes for no reason. We human beings have a very hard time telling the truth.
We have reasons. Or we convince ourselves we do. If not reasons, excuses. Very good excuses.
A lot of the time, we tell “white lies,” as if lies could ever be good. Wrapped up in niceness. Lies meant to spare the feelings of the person we deceive. Or to gently let us off the hook. Kind lies.
At times, we lie because we’re afraid to speak the truth. We fear rejection, repercussions, ridicule. We betray our heart and thoughts to protect ourselves from pain. We hold our cards close and cringe at our duplicity.
Many lie because they seek to shift blame or to avoid consequences. We know we deserve condemnation, but we don’t want to have to pay the price. Thus begins the deception. We tell ourselves we aren’t truly guilty. But we know. We know what we’ve done. Yet we do everything we can to talk our way out of it, even if it means making someone else look as if they are responsible. Letting them take the fall. If we have a conscience left, we may feel bad for a few days. If not, if our conscience has been destroyed by our selfishness and narcissistic views, we may not give those lies a second thought.
A handful have become pathological liars, being dishonest even when the truth would benefit them. They have somehow lost the ability to speak factually, or to know the truth, or both. While compulsive liars are motivated by the desire to paint themselves in a favorable light, pathological liars habitually lie, typically to gain attention or sympathy. They weave stories that are grandiose or fantastic in scope, making themselves the heroes or victims of the stories they concoct.
“The closer to the truth, the better the lie, and the truth itself, when it can be used, is the best lie.”
We all lie, whatever our reasons, however frequently or infrequently. At some point, we take a grain of truth and weave a story around it that is full of fiction. A tapestry. Sometimes others believe us. Sometimes they don’t. But we stand on the grain of truth encased in the falsehood, insisting we are being honest as we try to sell our tale based on the tiny sliver of reality we’ve buried at the core of it all. We sell it to ourselves first, refusing to look our falsehood in the eye. We tell it to ourselves again and again until we can no longer discern where the truth ends and the fabrication begins.
Of all the lies we tell, we tell our biggest lies are not told to others, but to ourselves. In fact, we lie most frequently not to someone else, but to ourselves. We don’t even need to speak the words. We whisper them in our own ear time and time again. Until finally, we believe wholeheartedly. And those lies becomes our reality.
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
The biggest lies I tell myself were taught to me when I was young and impressionable, perhaps by parents who were pathological liars, selfish, narcissistic and hell-bent on making themselves look like the hero. “You’re such a disappointment.” “You could be pretty if only…” If only I was thin. If only my hair was blonde. If only I would dress a certain way. “You’re so much trouble; you’re too needy.” “People would like you more if you would smile. Stop being so serious.” “Be quiet and stop bothering me!” “You’re not the kind of person we hoped you would be. “ “You can do anything you want…well, not that…or that…” You’re not (fill in the blank). You aren’t going to amount to anything. You’re not good enough. You’re a failure. You’re not easy to like. You were supposed to…but you’ve let us down.
They were abusive in may ways. The way they used their words has greatly contributed to my destruction.
Their displeasure stacked up. Walls built with pain as mortar. Built word upon word. Disappointment upon disappointment. Rejection upon rejection. Demand upon demand. Unfulfilled expectation upon unfulfilled expectation. Each one of them a poison dart to the heart. They told me how worthless, unlovable and unacceptable I was. And I believed their lies.
At least, I hope they were lies.
“The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”
Derek Landy, Death Bringer
I read the words of the Bible, telling me God loves me; that He doesn’t reject me. Loves me so much He died for me. But I hear the words my parents spoke over me and I cannot believe this thing called love is real. I can’t grasp the concept nor believe love could ever be given to me. That I would be worthy of it; not have to earn every morsel and scrap tossed in my direction. I have lived nearly a lifetime without it. How can it be true when it violates what I was trained to believe and what I have experienced throughout the years I have walked upon this planet? I have learned to be content with tolerance. Being tolerated has become for me what being loved is to most.
Though I know logically I can’t be the one exception to what God has spoken, my heart cannot accept this truth. The lie has become who I am.
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
Pearl Strachan Hurd
The atom bombs my parents dropped on the flourishing landscape of my soul when I was a child laid waste to all that was good, blooming, and becoming. My soil was made radioactive and so it remains. Nothing grows but the words with which they bombarded me. I ceased to be a living soul and became what they spoke over me. Their words have shaped me and my destiny. I have carried them with me every moment of each day and they pepper my dreams as I sleep each night. I haven’t been able to recover. I believed their words.
They told me I was nothing and nothing I became.
The lies have become the truth. The truth has become the lie. And all that might have been has been wiped away as if it never was.