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Monday, July 13, 2015

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I absolutely agree with your remarks about little lies and secrets as ways of reassuring oneself that one hasn't lost it, that one still has intact boundaries, an integrity of sorts in an potentially unhinging environment. Children who are being abused (physically, sexually or emotionally) know this very well. Even just kids who have helicopter parents and/or extremely intrusive ones.

I vividly remember as a small child, smothered emotionally on our farm by my mother's outrageous moods and demands and a personality so huge one could never escape it, writing little notes saying "I hate Mummy, she is a witch" and "I'm going to run away and join the French Foreign Legion" and "When I grow up, I will be an Amazon" (pretty dumb) and shoving them down the sofa cushions and behind books and all around odd corners of the house. I thought of them as magic spells that would do their work all over the house to make it possible for me to grow up quickly and escape. But I also LOVED writing things that would have got me in all kinds of trouble, because in real life I was a good child who never challenged the flamboyant mother.

Children lead a kind of Walter Mitty fantasy life that often helps them endure quite unspeakable childhoods. Telling lies is part of that, even if they are not sociopaths. You tell a lie to outwit the evil witch in the fairy tale. You tell a lie to hide how frightened you are. You tell a lie to put a spell on something dangerous.

As I got older (i.e.: past 9 I think) I stopped lying and became excruciatingly truthful.. This was because our mother had had a huge break and been hospitalised. We kids were thereafter isolated and forbidden by our distraught father to speak to anybody about what was going on with her or at home at all. Disobeyence would be severely punished. For the next 10 years or so we were forced to keep family secrets. It was a hideous burden, and I brought few friends home as a result. I vowed I would never do that to my family when I grew up.

There's a saying in the recovery movement about how "you're only as sick as your secrets" A lot of truth to that.

There is also that warning in Shakespeare's "The Tempest" about how "the truth he speaks, doth lack some gentleness..." For some time after I escaped my family of origin, I was quite brutally honest about everything.

Working in politics for a while made me loath liars and people who massage the truth. Later working in a hospital, was trickier. Seeing people being told part of the truth or being told the truth badly, or people not being willing to hear it. Truth is painful, truth wounds. There is a great temptation at times to soften a blow, to lie under the illusion that the person can't stand the truth. Overall I still feel it is patronizing and damaging to withold the truth from people "for their own good." Even tho done with good intentions.

Bosses lie all the time to people. About whether they are going to lay people off, about the health of the business, about whether they are pleased with one's work or not. Companies lie. Rarely for any noble purpose.

In personal life, some people use the truth as a weapon, like an adulterous husband saying "You forced me to have sex with her because you let yourself go, you so repulsed me when you gained weight..."(fortunately such men will be crispy critters in Hell).

On the other hand, Jesus warned about how he who is faithful in a little is faith in much, and that's still the best approach to truth IMHO. I like this quote "Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." Albert Einstein.

And this generic proverb "tell the truth and run..." Because the darkness hates the light...

Having said all that, I found myself being exceptionally deceptive this week around somebody with power to hurt my family's welfare. I didn't steal, murder or break the law, but I was definitely playing a false self, and hated myself afterwards. Only rationalised by saying "my family must eat." So I do still lie. Catholics are lucky, they can go and get absolution, We dirty Protestants just stew and feel guilty...

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