Pretty little liars
We are all
Pretty little liars
Well, maybe some prettier than others.
I have pondered long and hard for most of my life on the nature of lying. I have had a protracted and painful war with myself over lying.
We all lie. People who love us lie. People who hate us lie. Our teachers lie. Saying that politicians lie is just redundant. We most especially lie to ourselves.
When I put makeup on in the morning, I am preparing to lie to the world about my face, which is already a giant fib because of plastic surgery. When I squeeeeeeeeze myself into a corset, I am going to lie to you about the size of my middle.
Take ten pounds off your weight. Lie.
Take ten years off your age. Lie.
Take 2 of your 4 ex husbands off a first date's conversation. Lie.
These are called "white lies." I'm not sure who originally picked the color. Probably to signify "innocence." But in a literal sense, a lie really is a lie really is a neon red Vegas sign lie.
Visiting my parents when my son was two, there was a plate of delicious cookies on the table. I told Ben that he could have two and that was all. I turned back to him and noticed an odd expression on his face. I said "Ben, did you take more cookies?" "Noooooooo," he answered with wide eyes and a slow shake of his head. Then he said "Just don't look under the table." I got up and looked under the table and saw he was holding two more cookies. Ben got angry and said "I TOLD you not to look under the table!!!" Then he tossed the cookies back onto the plate and huffed away. A humorous demonstration of a strange phenomena that adults still practice: getting angry at someone we've lied to because they've discovered the lie.
While in a relationship with a morally compromised person, I caught him in several lies. He would finally admit to them, but never ever apologize or make amends. Time would pass, and when I would bring it up, he would say "Haven't we moved past that now?" As in "time heals all wounds and all lies are forgotten." Then there would be new lies he would be angry with me for discovering.
For a long time I viewed lies in terms of degree of injury. The degree of injury would often be how much energy I would expend based on the belief of the lie. For example, if you tell me you love me when you don't even really like me, and I believe you, I will take great care with your birthday and Christmas gifts and when you're in a pickle, I'll go out of my way to help you, you lying scumbag. This lie has cost me money and time, and the embarrassment of you laughing behind your hand at my expense while others watch. And other various such like scenarios. This view has been far more hurtful to me than it was for the self centered narcissists who told the lies. It also renders the dynamic of the interpersonal relationship a commercial transaction. In these cases, the lies become counterfeit currency to purchase my valuable time, affection and efforts. It's far easier nowadays for me to go out of business with someone who's looking to steal from my stores. Because it really is a HUGE waste of time.
One of the worst of lies I've seen involved a relative of mine. He had grown up believing that his mother's sixth husband was his biological father. The same father as his younger brother. When it came time for him to get his driver's license, his mother refused to give him his birth certificate, which he had never before seen. When he finally got one, ordered from the county, he saw "bastard" entered in the "name of father" box. This was a most injurious lie, to be sure. Considering that this was yet another pothole in the road to this young man's suicide. Not that his mother didn't love him. She did. This was a lie that sprang from shame and cowardice.
In my lifetime of trying to climb the mountain of lies in search of "truth," I spent time regarding the question of "truth." What the sam hill is it?
What I found is that "truth" is a squirrelly thing. I am fascinated by Derren Brown. He is a masterful illusionist, hypnotist and trickster. Watch his shows on YouTube. He "bought" a very expensive watch using blank paper as "cash." He made a fortune at the race track with losing tickets. In his work, he shows how very easy we humans are to lie to and fool. He is not at all obnoxious about this. He explains what he has done and is always respectful of the people who participate with him. He will even tell them straight up what he is about to do, and they are still hoodwinked. Amazing.
What Derren Brown has illustrated more pointedly to me is that lying is a participatory event. For me, being angry with myself for believing the packs of lies as told to me by cowards and scum of the past is what was the most crippling. And the biggest waste of time. And, after all, I do have to include myself in the coward and scum category for each time I've "lied" to myself. To be fair.
Recently I "busted" someone for changing the salient details in the retelling of a past event. His reply sent me on another inner thought voyage when he laughed and said, "well, it makes a better story." The so-called fact was that the event, as told, did happen, but the surrounding elements did or did not happen. I intellectual-ified this into it becoming a "Relative Alternate Perception."
My mother loves to re-write our family history. For her, it tells a better story. As long as I am thinner in those versions, I don't mind.
When you think about it, nothing around us in our various stories at any given moment is as it seems. We think we're solid. We're not. We're defined as solid because we have a definite shape and volume. Glass is liquid that is moving verrrrrry slowly. Matter around us is made up of atoms with enormous quantum space between the elemental particles. We just perceive these things as solid.
Eye witness reports can be completely incorrect. Optical illusions fool us every time.
But how is a person to navigate through life when every single thing and person and event around us is all or part lie? What is a truth seeker to do to avoid self loathing breakdowns of frustration????
One could explode in a volcanic eruption of vitriolic venom without some kind of coping relief.
For me it comes down to decisions. I have to decide how I am going to perceive my environs on a daily basis. I have to dispassionately review and regard people and events around me based on new information, the need to discard old and irrelevant information and which underpants are clean. Sometimes the seemingly arbitrary has significance. And this process must be done as even handedly as possible without tendency to over-react, become paranoid or under-react and end up in landfill. I have had to become surgical in some cases where people around me fundamentally meant me harm, even if unintentionally.
Life is about fluid, relative alternate perceptions. It's the only thing I have to go on. Lying is going to rain down on me every single solitary day. I will be participating in this to some degree or another. That's just who we are as humans. I will tell you the truth. At least today's truth. Unless our day is going to be a whole lot happier if I tell you that butt ugly dress you're wearing is pretty.
It all comes down to the most profound song of all time. The one song that ultimately defines and positively instructs the healthiest, happiest, truest path we can take in our lives:
"Row, row, row your boat
gently, down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream."