That word is meant to hold so much power. As I say it over and over to myself, you know what I end up hearing? “Baby Roo-Ooth”. Sloth from Goonies is holding Chunk up to his face and he just keeps repeating, “Baby Roo-Ooth”. For being such a powerful word, it sounds a little soft and leads to an odd reference to an ’80’s movie.
The truth is tricky because it’s not static. You may have told the truth as you believed it, but the truth is a living, breathing thing. It morphs to your reality and in an instant, the truth you told is no longer true. Or maybe it was only ever true to you, and someone else had a different version of that same truth.
(I should have started a drinking game for every time I use the word “truth” in this post.)
The truth and then on the flip side, lies, are complicated. So what I like to do is break it down into manageable pieces so it’s digestible. A saying I’ve heard used at work is you can’t eat the whole elephant at once, you have to take small bites. (For the record, this saying grosses me out. I think elephants are pretty cool and the last thing I want to do is eat an elephant, no matter how small of a bite I take.)
So let’s break it down into bite-sized elephant pieces (ugh, sorry, it’s in my head now so I am running with it).
I would love to say I always tell the truth. However, that would be a lie. I can say I am not a good liar. I also have a terrible memory which is problematic if you lie a lot because you forget what lies you told. So I only lie when it’s truly necessary (although, I am the one defining “necessary”). I remember this one lie I told as a child that had my full commitment. I wasn’t going to waiver no matter how long my mom grilled me for the truth.
The memory is a little fuzzy, but what I remember is that my older cousins and sister got to do something fun and I was left behind with another cousin of mine and we were a little bitter. I convinced her to seek revenge with me. I took a bottle of lotion and I squirted it out on areas in the backyard most likely to have someone’s hand placed in it. My idea. Genius, right? Not if you knew my grandfather. And since there were only two of us in the backyard at the time, it was either me or her that did it.
Fully committed, I held tight to the lie that she did it all on her own. She fessed up to her part and actually cleaned up the mess while I, through well-placed tears, convinced my mom that it was all my cousin’s fault and she had to be guilty, otherwise why would she offer to clean it up? She got in big trouble, and my mom gave me a hug.
(In hindsight, not sure why we got in so much trouble. Hand lands in lotion, seems like a positive thing really. It’s not like it was super glue. Even my pranks were lame as a child. Wow.)
As evidenced in the above example, people lie for odd reasons. I have been witness to some extremely committed liars and at some point you have to give them some credit for their dedication to that lie. Depending on the lie, and your relationship with that person, you have some options. You can decide that person is not trust-worthy and you can walk away. In some cases, that is exactly the right thing to do. Everyone has their limits and a perpetual liar that is causing you harm must walk the plank (second Goonies reference for those paying attention).
But some times, you let it go. Why? Usually love. You know that person inside and out, and you know they aren’t lying because they want to hurt you. There is something inside of them that is keeping them from telling you the truth. Maybe they aren’t ready to tell it, or maybe they are protecting you, or in some cases, they don’t even know what the truth is yet. I’m sure when my mom watched me lie so adamantly through my tears, a part of her knew I wasn’t telling the truth, but she chose to let it go because it got to a point where the lie was hurting me more than it was hurting her. And I had to live with the guilt of it.
When you love people, sometimes you let them have their lie and you love them anyways because you know they are trying to survive the only way they know how. We are all dealing with the lies we have told whether it was for a good reason or not. It’s what you do after that lie has been told that makes a difference. With all this said though, if you really are going to let it go, then you have to do just that. You can’t try to keep catching them in the same lie. If you really have accepted it, then you move on and you choose to trust that even if they lie, it’s not from a bad place. Does that make sense? I’m not saying it isn’t a fine line. But we are all human, and we all have our secrets. That doesn’t make us terrible people, it means we are human. And while we may be flawed characters, every day we wake up and we choose to move forward and keep doing the best we can with the people we love. (If you are going to keep punishing the person over and over, searching through their things to find some evidence to further prove they lied, please see the first option – walk the “f” away. It’s time to move on.)
People will judge when they are on the outside looking in, but unless they are in the thick of it with you, they will never understand. Lies are like the chalk on the chalkboard, easily and sometimes not so easily erased. If you are lucky and you have people that really know you and love you, you start with that clean slate again. It’s that underneath part that’s really important. No matter what lies are told, when the titanic goes down and you only have a wooden door as a life preserver, are you with someone that will give up their spot so you survive or are you that jackass that pushed all the women and children out of the way to save yourself?