The cost of lying

A lie can cover shame, sure.  It’s done all the time.   We can tell lies we can argue aren’t actually lies, they are just ways of sparing some pain, to ourselves or others.   There are gradations in lying, too.   We can lie in a way that is, arguably, basically truthful.  We can leave out just one key detail, more or less accidentally, and satisfy ourselves that this small omission was completely justified.  Without that troubling detail, the rest of the story makes more or less complete sense, so what is the harm of the “lie”?

Because we now live in a culture where a lie, unless told under oath and punishment for perjury is actually pursued, is no longer a big deal.  So, I lied, so what?  I wasn’t under oath, only loser chumps take an oath not to lie.  Everybody lies, and you’re lying if you don’t think you’re a fucking liar too.  And if you don’t lie, you take the fucking Fifth, like a man.

The analysis is fine, as far as it goes, which is not far at all.   When you accept a lie you choose your poison.  

Why is the United States poised for an era of stochastic terrorism, angry, unbalanced men, rabid lone wolves, poised to do deadly violence to themselves and others, always ready to be triggered by an angry suggestion that this person or that is deserving of death? [1]  

Because the widely accepted lie that one party is run by demented, murderous, child-raping Communist blood-drinkers is as accepted (among a solid 30% of Americans)  as the one that Blacks are irrationally angry about nothing, that Jews are about to replace all “white” “legacy” Americans with brown dupes, that elections lost by your candidate are rigged by these all-powerful Commie traitors, etc.  If you are angry, and alone, and everyone else in your social media silo also faithfully believes these demonstrable lies are true, and you have lost faith in everything else, and an assault weapon is legal and readily available in your state, why on earth wouldn’t you take out some of these demonic scum in your heroic last act on earth?

What is the cost of accepting a lie, being faithful to defending a lie to the death?   It costs you your integrity, your authenticity, your credibility. It also costs the ability to ever solve a problem or conflict based on what actually caused the problem or conflict.

As in politics, so in our personal lives.   If saying something that is true enrages or humiliates someone you know, you tactfully avoid the topic.  Some topics are easier to avoid than others.  If it is a shameful single event, unrelated to anything else, that you both acknowledge is mutually painful and worth avoiding, it’s reasonable to agree to not bring it up anymore.  If the topic is honesty itself, that’s a tough bridge to cross with your relationship intact. 

“Uh, OK, we can’t talk about why it’s better to be honest than dishonest, OK, let me try to remember never to say anything that might bring up that flaming bag of shit.  Honesty is overrated, LOL!”

To me, the cost of my integrity, authenticity and credibility is too high a price to pay, in most situations.  Then again, I have a lifelong issue in that regard.  Life itself, making a living, often requires limiting the scope of one’s integrity, authenticity and even credibility, in the name of going along to get along.  Too much insistence on a right to be whole, and treated by others with the same care you give to them, can make you as welcome as an agitated scorpion at a baby shower.

On the other hand, if you are honest, you will understand that the price of lying is almost always unacceptable.

If we don’t trust each other, what kind of love do we have between us? What kind of savage world do we live in?

[1]  Walking neo-Nazi pustule Steve Bannon called for the death of Anthony Fauci, and his family, on his podcast the other day. Free Speech, bitches.  First Amendment, you fucking blood-drinking Fauciist cucks!

If it was me

If it was me and a close friend I’d had for decades, since I was a kid, a person I loved, a person who finally found it impossible to remain friends with me in my embattled, inflamed marriage, called me to reconcile and be friends again, I would have taken him up on it.

Especially if it was true that I found this person unique in my life, funny and smart, still dreamed about him regularly, and both of my boys had very warm feelings toward him. I would have arranged a jam session with my two musician sons and my old friend, that would have been my first move.

There were many things I would have done that would have probably been better than sending him this text in response to a music clip he’d sent a few weeks earlier.

Just lovely! But I can’t contain my rage at the pussy assed Democrats and the pussies that they make Attorney General
who are too scared to put an ex President in jail. Fuck Garland. Imagine if the shoe had been on the other foot? Would have been the electric chair for Obama.

Well, on the plus side, at least he’s praying to God every morning with great devotion. As long as you’re right with your Creator, what do I have to say about anything?

If I don’t trust you…

I can’t make myself vulnerable, you might hurt me. You always hurt me, that’s why I don’t trust you.

You want me to be honest with you, but if I am honest, and you get upset, you will say I am attacking you. So I don’t trust you.

Since I don’t trust you, I am afraid because I don’t know what you will do. You can do anything. That’s what I’m afraid of, because I don’t trust you.

And around and around we go in this insane circular dance because there is no trust between us anymore. If we don’t have trust, what do we have?

All the love in the world can’t fix the crippling fear that takes hold, at the worst possible moment, when trust is dead.

Mediation to solve a dispute

Some conflicts lend themselves to mediation. Mediation, when successful, results in a compromise that gives each party more than they had when they came into mediation. Each party leaves a good mediation feeling that they now have enough.

My mother always felt that my sister and her children were ungrateful. She felt this because none of them ever said thank you when my mother took them to dinner every week. It burned my mother that my sister had never taught her children to say the words “thank you, Grandma.”

My sister’s position was that parents and grandparents give things to children and grandchildren out of love, and not in expectation of a show of gratitude. It annoyed my sister that her mother expected a polite show of gratitude from children she considered perfect as they were.

In this situation, had they been willing, a mediator could have made a great difference. The issue was very clear, and how to improve the conflict was also clear.

For purposes of their grandmother only, my sister’s children could have started saying “thank you, Grandma.” It would have made a big difference.

But, of course, my mother and my sister both insisted the other one would never agree to go to mediation and I dropped the idea after a while. The conflict lasted until the last days of my mother’s life.

In the situation where the conflict is “you hurt me” versus “no I did not, you fucking asshole,” I’m not sure what role a mediator would play, outside of hearing each party’s grievance against the other. Where is the mediated compromise in a conflict like this?

When trust is gone between two people

When trust is replaced by fear and defensiveness, your relationship is moribund, dead or starkly inauthentic.

Superficial friendship may be the best many people can do. It has its virtues. It rarely, if ever, hurts, it can be easily walked away from, should the need arise. Only a troubled friendship that felt like mutual trust and love over a long time can rip your heart apart.

“You broke my heart,” says one, feeling unfairly blamed for everything bad that happened between them.

“I did not, you just want to blame me and end our friendship.”

Set and match, if the stakes involve anger and a shudder of humiliation that makes honesty way too dangerous.

Demons, fear and reflexive distrust

There are demons within us all, stirring terrors too formidable to face unless we’re forced to.  They are extremely painful to confront, even when we’re aided by somebody who has the skills and gentleness to help.  My father, a man with more demons than most, and better reason than most to host so many of the merciless little fuckers, always stressed that everybody has his demons and that it’s impossible to know what to make of someone else’s demons.  Never truer, in my experience, than with my father.   

Although, towards the end of his life I came to understand the source of some of my father’s major demons:  regular childhood face whippings from his mother, daily hunger, excruciating, humiliating poverty, illiterate, defeated-by-life father, low expectations from his extended family, a feeling of shame for being stupid because he couldn’t learn to read — they only figured out he was legally blind when he was about eight and the brand new New Deal made it possible for him to have his 20/400 vision corrected with glasses (he went on to get a graduate degree in history).   If that’s not enough childhood pain to support a thriving colony of demons, I can only imagine what the rest of the story was.  At the very end of his life, he still believed he’d been the dumbest Jewish kid in the haunted small town he grew up in, by far.

Our most ferocious demons make us rage sometimes.   If someone touches one accidentally WATCH THE FUCK OUT!   Often, after losing your cool and lashing out, you feel embarrassed, particularly if the people you care about are victims of your anger.   If one of your demons is shame, it is humiliating to acknowledge that you did something wrong and hurt somebody. You will have developed strategies to not feel the burning of deep shame.  Better to get angry again, indignant over and over, than to feel mortified that you’ve hurt someone you care about for a weak reason, or no reason you can talk about.

You stop trusting the person you hurt, if they won’t shut up about their need to talk about what the hell happened, their need to put everything on the table.  If everything is laid out clearly, your understandable human weakness is exposed.  Weakness may be understandable to others, but it’s intolerable to you, because your demons will immediately start painfully sodomizing you for being imperfect, weak, capable of hurting others who, sometimes, maddeningly, refuse to pretend they weren’t hurt. 

If you’re vulnerable to the need to be perfect,  you’re in for a lot more pain than the average schmuck who can forgive herself for sometimes acting badly.   We all sometimes act badly, no matter how diligently we try not to hurt people we care about. 

The only way back to mutual care is through making amends and forgiveness.  Forgiveness takes place after the hurt is acknowledged, it can’t happen in any meaningful way if the person asking for forgiveness insists the other person is a pussy who simply can’t put the past in the past and insists on bringing up a painful situation that nobody can do anything about because it’s in the past, duh!  

Many people find it impossible to forgive themselves.  The hurt we suffered at our own hands can only be forgiven by being honest and gentle with ourselves.   It works with the self the same way it does with others.  We truly didn’t mean to hurt ourselves, acknowledge the accident, cure it with taking better care never to hurt ourselves that way again.   This doesn’t mean shutting ourselves off from others, it means accepting they we’re humans who do stupid things sometimes and there is no point whipping ourselves over them, much better to learn important life lessons from mistakes and avoid repeating the same bad pattern.

When you hurt somebody, and they tell you they’re hurt, listen to them, do not allow a demon you can’t control to jump in and angrily cut them off.  Understand why they were hurt, empathize, assure them you will do your best to not do that to them again.  The same goes for when we act in a way that hurts ourselves.  Unless you do yourself the kindness of letting yourself off the hook for dumb mistakes, the hook gets sharper and sharper, sinks in deeper and deeper.  In the end, that hook is never coming out.

The alternative to making amends is that the truth of hurtful past events becomes poison to you, and the one you hurt.  A clear recitation of the thing you can’t talk about is seen as an aggressive, threatening frontal attack.  You marshal your armies, but they have very little to work with in defending something that can only be defended by spraying ordnance wildly.  You accuse, express distrust, and fear, sprinkle in some regret, quickly followed by more anger, and tell them how merciless they are.   Direct questions can be uncomfortable, an assault. What can you say to something like: was anything I said inaccurate, unfair, unkind?  All you can do is hurl something back “you’re unfair and mean!”  Sometimes we are at fault, and if we never yield, do the same thing over and over, fight responsibility and the idea that we can change our behavior in any meaningful way, that’s about it for that relationship.

There is no genius mediator, supremely skilled at her job, who can fix that distrust, denial, anger and inability to forgive yourself enough to reach compromise with people you love, in a single short session where everyone gets a chance to express how they were hurt and the mediator makes sure each one knows they’ve been heard.   At least, I can’t picture that kind of alchemist mediator.   If there’s only mutual hurt and distrust going in, how does the process have a chance to heal anything?

Apologia

Sorry, I keep forgetting that everyone I know is much more sensitive than I am.

That was not your loud, cloying fart, it was my auditory and olfactory hallucination and I should seek psychiatric assistance for my florid psychosis.

I’m sorry for your pain and sad that I can’t carry it for you. Maybe meds or talk therapy will help.