Going Back in Lies

I often contemplate how I married HUSBAND. How I chose a man who would begin cheating on me a mere two years after we married. A man who artfully hid his double life from me as it ebbed and flowed in and through his original life with me and I was not-so-blissfully unaware.

What was wrong with me that I couldn’t see it? That I didn’t know?

blinders

My family valued honesty. I was told as a young girl that honesty was the premium value…that breaking a lamp while breaking rules would be not so good, but breaking a lamp while breaking rules and then LYING would be AWFUL. My parents were meticulous about keeping their word in so many ways: always paying bills on time, arriving at appointments, events or work early, and certainly never lying to us kids or each other.

And I believed that was the reality of my home, and my life. We were defined by our H O N E S T Y.

honesty

Except it really wasn’t. We really weren’t.

I’m prefacing this by saying I have stellar parents who defied so many odds. They overcame myriad challenges individually and as a couple, and they were really fantastic parents using all they knew how to do and dealing with all they had to deal. But they were the offspring of their own parents and they of their parents and so on. I was raised by beautiful, hardworking, dedicated and loving parents who knew how to parent me as they had been parented, and to understand honesty as it had been defined for them and it ends up it wasn’t quite as black and white as I had been made to believe.

I began to have glimpses of the confusion between truth and sort-of-truth and not-so-much-truth and out-and-out-lies a couple days before our oldest son’s second birthday. My parents were headed up to spend a few days and celebrate with HUSBAND and me and 10 or so other little two-year-olds and I got an early morning phone call. Mom told me they wouldn’t be making the trip. My uncle, my dad’s brother, just 15 month’s his elder, had committed suicide and they had to go to be with his widow and children. The processing of that event left me overwhelmed…and I decided to go to a therapist to work through some of my confusion.

It was there, on his proverbial couch, that I found out that my fantastically honest parents might have lied to me – and I was only just seeing it – although I’d known it. See my dad’s side of the family was the bad side – included alcoholism and abandonment and now suicide. Mom’s side – the good side that did no wrong – until I began to recall the stories. The stories I knew that had been presented as rosy and pretty but when I shared them with the therapist I stopped myself part way: Wow…they are pretty screwed up too, huh? That side of the family included adultery and separate homes and an adopted child who never was told he was adopted although we all knew and were told to keep the secret (that wasn’t a lie) even when he asked us to our faces. So I wasn’t allowed to lie except when I was told to lie and it wasn’t a lie in that case.

innerselfouterself

I was so confused.

I shared all this with HUSBAND who listened with his very young and distracted mind, nodding occasionally and thinking I was thinking too much. Thinking it was good I didn’t see lies since he’d already successfully completed his first marital affair and lied brilliantly and I was none the wiser. Of course I would not know about that lie of his for another 25 years…

Funny thing is because the surprise of discovering the inconsistencies within my own childhood I decided I would be hyper-honest with our children. I tried very carefully to tell them truth as best I could based on their maturity. But there is something about someone who grows up lying and that is they don’t see the lies. They don’t see how wrapped around truth they are, and how their (my) very default position is lying, justified in hundreds of ways…by sparing one’s feelings, or it not really being their business, etc. So even though I determined to not lie, I continued to lie, unbeknownst to me, but fairly consistently. Not about things that mattered, but instead about things like why my child couldn’t go spend the night with a friend (truth is I didn’t trust that friend’s judgement on movies and bedtimes and food choices, but I said we had another commitment). Things like why I was late to an appointment (truth is I was habitually a wee-bit late, but I said something happened with the dog or the kids or the car). Things like how glad I was that HUSBAND was able to __________________ (hunt…fish…play…leave me…. – fill in the blank – ) because it made me happy for him to be happy (truth is I was lonely and sad and felt like I had no value, but it wasn’t polite to say such things and they would get better, right?? RIGHT???)

BigorSmallLies

Yes…it is very hard for a person who has learned that the way to deal with pain or fear or shame or sorrow or sadness or regret or guilt or abandonment is to lie through it and pretend it wasn’t so to stop lying…mainly because I just could not see it. And that is how I married a man who could do this to me…

The real question is could I have married a man who was any different? A man who was honest? I don’t think so…

It was really tough to consider these possibilities. It was a new kind of pain and hurt, but it is the path that has led to me discovering I could be free from the bondage that engulfed me. And it was my path to take, or not. That’s where and when I thought I just couldn’t do it, and I saw Christ in the garden telling His Father…God…please, please take this cup from me. Yet even then, even when He didn’t want to, He still took the path. Despite all the odds, despite it making no sense at all, it led to healing. To freedom. So I took it too…

foreststonepath

 

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24 thoughts on “Going Back in Lies

  1. Savingshards, this is a tough topic. We are coming from similar family backgrounds – healthy loving families, strong values and principles and integrity. And yes, the covered, hidden lies we are discovering as we grow up, as we got through tough shit on our own behalves. I so relate to this. I find it sickening as I finally get to peel those layers you mentioned to me months ago, to see lies – fabrications for comfort, convenience, survival. And yes, maybe some of them are necessary – the lies you use to not hurt people with your choices (like the family you weren’t comfortable letting your children do a sleepover with), but indeed, lies, small or big, are lies.

    When someone for whom lying is AWFUL (like you, me) meets someone for whom lying is COPING (like husbands), it becomes terribly, terribly painful. I find that this is because we don’t speak the same language – and finding that out 8 or 25 years on is just ever so devastating – where the hell have we been all this time?!

    My question is: can those who use lying as COPING really change? Where does your husband stand on this? Is it really that hard to be honest going forward? This has been a massive challenge for my husband.

    And another question: how do YOU feel about lying now, knowing what you now know, about your family, about your husband? How would you feel if you discovered a new lie from your husband? What would your reaction be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh such good questions, MWS. It has definitely been a process. Now? NO LIES. Zero tolerance. But that goes for me too. For HUSBAND, he talks about having to learn to tell the truth…and his support groups were safe places to begin to do that. He realized he didn’t even know how to be honest, and it felt really awkward and downright frightening at first. But he has persevered, as have I. But again…it has been a process of learning and trying and working on it…along the way, there were some shapings-of-the-truth…and I challenged them…and he had to really dig to see how he was shaping (which is LYING) but he wants, really really wants, to be this person. Does this help? HUGS!

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      1. It does help, and thank you. Your post and your response above started me on a thinking path that I am not yet comfortable with but working on it. Lying is indeed the hardest issue to deal with in this – the thing that makes us feel like fools, what fools, plain idiots, for not having seen all this going on, for having been part of a play without realising it. The cheating? It’s awful for sure, super painful, but those are way overshadowed by the series of easy casual habitual lying, for YEARS.

        “[…] he talks about having to learn to tell the truth…” […] “He realized he didn’t even know how to be honest, and it felt really awkward and downright frightening at first.”

        This is something that I think is key to grasp. I wish I could, I am working on it. Hugs!

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  2. I actually thought, I’d better not reply, but I enjoy your reflections Sav. (not SS). To me lying is not lying as I take into equation the intention of the lies. A partner who lies to the faithful spouse is intentionally lying and engaging in incredible harmful behaviour and yes, it comes out (and how is important too) and than there are years of pain. The intention of the lies is to keep on going with for the cheater rewarding and selfish behaviour.

    My dad lied to me about his father. This was coping as he was also lying to himself as he could not (read: did not want) to cope with an awful truth. My grandfather lived and worked in Indonesia for the Government. He was captured by the Japanese and placed in a concentration camp. The Japanese occupied Dutch East Indies in 1942. When he got out, and I will never know how and when exactly, because the Japanese surrendered in 1945, which as also the end of WWII for the Dutch… (May, 1945). But, OK, he got out before the war was ended by the allies (the Canadians in fact). He was not himself (in this case a valid excuse) and he was shit scared for the Japanese, so he had sympathies for Hitler. This was of course, more than unacceptable and perceived as shameful…and therefore stories were made up that never added up. There are many of these stories of people who supported Hitler out of fear for Stalin. Hitler is bad….being Dutch and supporting Hitler is shameful and traitorous and needed to be covered up.
    To me this was coping and I never blamed my dad, his siblings and my grandmother and I also never questioned them about the how and when….I do know that my grandmother separated from her husband and kept the children away from him as a result of his erratic behaviour. He died very young and she died young too.

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  3. Lying is part of us. We don’t want it to be but it is. I teach a class to adults about coping skills. I make a long list of behaviors that are unacceptable to them. I tell each to pick out three. Stealing, cheating and lying are almost always the three. Occasionally one of the others is substituted but never lying. We feel it is so demeaning and so disrespectful but we all do it.
    The lies your husbands told were part of one huge lie that they were managing their lives. Actually it sounds like they were holding on by their fingernails. To live with the amount of energy it takes to keep up those lies must be emtionally exhausting.
    I have a suggestion. Your husbands substituted you for their parents. The pain and rage that lives under the surface of their lives spills over onto you. You are the only adult they love and fear so they get the first strike in. As children, if they could, they would probably have screamed hatred at their parents. They might have tried running away. Children are so helpless. Neglect and abuse from those who are suppose to protect them makes them feel hopeless. That morphs into rage. It lives under the surface and with pervasive sadness rules their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do not disagree, Moi. That is why we have found it so critical to identify our lies and stop them. I am not the one who wounded him, nor him me, but we were locked in our dance of lies. No more, and it is freedom.

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  4. I empathize with your post and the feelings you shared about lies and super honesty etc. I came from that similar background of super honest parents and I therefore grew up believing the people I loved to be honest back to me only to discover I got blindsided somewhere. Luckily my husband realized how lies can destroy relationships and the core soul of a marriage. He and I have never been more honest with each other after D day (well him mainly) than I ever could have imagined. I’m still the same honest gal and he’s now gotten that concept of what a lie can lead to. We are a work in progress.
    Great post from you. Thanks

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  5. “Your husband’s infidelity should shock you into a very important realiza- tion. He is not your be-all and end-all. He is not the sole purpose of your life. You need to find a way to be complete in yourself, rather than needing him (or any other person) to feel complete. It is important to be able to gain happiness and fulfillment from activities that are not dependent on your husband. This is true for any relationship. If you were to leave your husband and make a new relationship, you still do not want to have a relationship based on need, so that you only feel complete with that person. You want to relate to the other person from a position of strength rather than from a needy feeling of being incomplete. That is how mature relationships can develop.” C. J. Grace, from her book Adulterer’s Wife; HOw to Thrive Whether You stay or Not.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this insight. I don’t fully agree. I do agree, completely, that my personal happiness and fulfillment does not and cannot come from HUSBAND, and I never believed that. While our relationship is not BASED on need, it is fulfilled by needs met…and having the vulnerability and transparency to be real, to be known and to be loved at the core rather than with all the coverings. That has been our path to healing, and to wholeness. It is a strange thing…as our US strengthens, our individual MEs also are strengthening…a beautiful dichotomy. Hugs!

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  6. I agree with several of the posts….if you put your faith and trust in your spouse, you will always be disappointed….it is not fair to you nor the spouse…vice versa is true as well. I still believe that honesty is the best. In your particular situation, you are not the one at fault…your husband is. In order to recover and heal this relationship, the foundation of trust must be built and the only way is to have complete honesty. This might be the first time, your husband has experienced this side of life. For years, he has been living a double life. However, when he is completely honest without being judged, a new world will begin. It will be healing for the entire marriage. Hold him accountable…he should want to constantly keep you informed of his every move in order to rebuild the trust.

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    1. Love this, Greg. Yes…this way of honesty is new for him, and he is beginning to fully embrace it. I’m out of town at a conference today, and he just texted me a picture of himself…where he is…and his geolocation. Just because he wanted me to feel safe. **sigh** I do. HUGS.

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  7. When I was dating my current husband I inadvertently told him I needed him. He said he didn’t want me to “need” him. We stopped seeing each other for a time as I assimilated that. It was the best thing he could have done for me and our relationship. It gave me a chance to evaluate how I viewed our relationship. Did I love him or was he a crutch? He’s been away helping relocate a new company to our area and I miss him terribly and realized as I was reading your blog that I’ve gone back to being “needy” emotionally. So, I need to fix that.
    As for the lies. I was the biggest liar there was and in our case it was in order to survive and keep from being beaten. We were all afraid to tell the truth, for fear of being beaten. So we lied, a lot. It was that way in my first marriage as well, while it never bothered him one lick, I was afraid to tell the truth. To be viewed unfavorably to the point of losing him. Some where along the way, it turned for me. As a Christian it pained me to lie, so I stopped. The only lies we can’t avoid however are the ones we unconsciously tell ourselves. So, the reality is we all lie.

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    1. Yes…the peeling back of the lies – the ones I unconsciously told myself (and there are still a few in there, I’m sure) – are painful and scary. But now I am learning to do it, and it is AMAZING. I hope this for you, too! HUGS!

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  8. This is beautiful. Truly. Self reflection is a bear. I too have had to look within at my particular struggles to understand how it was that I married liars. There is so much wisdom in recognizing in ourselves, what we’ve been scoffing at in others.

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  9. When people tell “we all lie” I have a problem with that as what I think they mean is intentional lying and it has a purpose and more often than not a selfish purpose to deceive others for own gain. No, I do not think that we all lie. “White lies” are in a different category with the purpose to protect someones feelings, and even those we can avoid because you are not helping by being false. There are many ways to make a statement. We can all practice good communication skills. Lying is not part of that. The confusion might be that everyone has a different perspective on things, and people might not agree with each other…but it is not lying…as lying is with the intent to deceive.

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  10. I read this and it transported me back to raw emotions. It’s so sad how regardless if it’s a husband/wife/affair partner – the playbook is same. They all lie, with a complete disregard for the impact of their lies.

    You question whether you could “have married a man who was any different? A man who was honest?” And the crazy answer is you did. Your husband presented himself to you as a man who had integrity, upheld honesty, and exuded character. He presented himself in this fashion. What I have come to realize, is that the ownness of deciphering and teasing through a persons character shouldn’t fall on our shoulders – I wonder why the fault, the blame, the ownness of lying doesn’t rest squarely on the person who falsely represented themselves and their character, and integrity?

    I have come to learn – especially after going through the legal system head to head with my wife’s affair partner – that you can lie on the witness stand and be rewarded. Perjury is just a word that we use to describe a misdemeanor which has zero teeth. So if under penalty of perjury someone can lie and not face consequences – what is the penalty for lying to your husband or wife?

    To me, it is a complete lack of respect when someone choses, without our knowledge, that we aren’t worth knowing the truth. That’s the core issue that rings the loudest. And the worst part is when they turn around and question why we make such a big deal about lying.

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