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"I Love You," and other Lies

Posted Jun 20 2010 3:23pm
No, this isn't about all the people that have lied to you. It's about all the lies we tell to keep the peace, to stay safe. Today is Father's Day, for those who celebrate fake holidays created by greeting card companies. Anyway, it got me thinking about the father, brothers, and husbands who are not a part of my life. I lied to them for years just so they wouldn't be mean to me, to stay safe.

My father wanted to hear that he was smarter than everyone else, a great father, and that we loved him. Those lies got us temporary acceptance, so it was worth it. My mother taught me well to tell people what they want to hear, not the truth. Oh, no! The truth in our house would bring instant wrath! If you told the truth about not knowing an answer, you were called stupid. If you told the truth about feeling sad, you were a weakling or crybaby. If you told the truth about disagreeing with my parents ... well, you could count on being humiliated in front of everyone.

For many years, it was extremely difficult for me to disagree with anyone openly for fear of being punished in some way. Lying was a necessary part of life. That doesn't mean it was easy. Sure, it was a habit that became quite a skill, but it hurt me inside. It bothered me on every level that I had to lie to someone I 'loved' in order to be loved and accepted in return. When I stopped lying to my husband, our marriage was over.

My ex-husband wants to believe he's a great father, an epic father, but knows deep in his heart that he is far from it, so he needs to hear that lie to be happy. Keeping him happy was important not only for my happiness, but also for my kids so I bought Father's Day cards every year from each of the kids, and me, that told the big lie for us. It worked, and still does. I don't lie to him anymore because I know there's nothing he can do to me, but the kids still do. I taught them well. :(

Fortunately for my kids and his, I started speaking the truth before we split up and now his oldest is telling the truth, even when her father doesn't like it. My son, who is only 6, doesn't like to lie but doesn't want to hurt anyone either so he's developed the skill of avoidance or changing the subject. He loves his father, but doesn't like the way he is, so my son focuses on the positive or stays out of the conversation.

One of the most empowering things I did in my life is decide not to lie to anyone for any reason. I don't say, "I love you," unless I mean it. I don't say things to soothe anyone's ego or keep the peace. There are times when I say nothing because I don't want to be hurtful or I know the truth would fall on deaf ears, but I don't lie. It's just not worth what it does to my soul.
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