Saturday, May 06, 2006

Masks and mistrust

Brew of the day: Raspberry Leaf Tea ~ go on grrrrls, get that uterus toned up!

Sometimes our values are so ingrained that we don’t realise how integral they are to our functioning and well-being until the polar opposite slaps us across the face.
This week I found out that a woman I’d recently grown to trust (and had openly hoped would become a friend) had been routinely *not telling me the truth* over the past couple of months. After the initial shock, my main question was why. Why did she do that? Has it come from her own dysfunction or it is just a reflection of the world we live in where this sort of behaviour is the expected norm? I take everyone at face value and oftentimes ‘forget’ that most people hide their true selves.

Although our society doesn’t exactly encourage *not telling the truth* (aka lying) it certainly doesn’t promote truth telling and honest conversation. My experience is that most people would rather hide or twist information (or lie by omission) than to confront a situation or issue even if the confrontation was peaceful and assertive rather than aggressive.

Confrontations (or explorations into truth as I’d prefer to call it!) always lead us into the unknown ~ for how are we to truly know where an honest dialogue will take us? We make assumptions as to how people will react and deny both them and ourselves the opportunity to explore, release and forgive. Forgiveness isn’t some hippy, new age virtue. It’s vital for everyone who wants peace. Spiritual evolution is impossible without it.

In this lady’s case, she has known me as a direct person and probably knew that I would very easily get to the core of the issue had she not lied (all the while smiling while she did so). The discomfort for her would have been too hard to handle for only one reason ~ the unknown. But surely honesty would have taken her relationship with me to a new level? What hope does any relationship have when it is based on deceit?

As a child I told ‘fibs’…for the sole reason of protecting my backside! On my journey through life I’ve learnt some very painful lessons about lying. It hurts. It hurts to lie and it hurts to be lied to. As an adult I aim to be as open and direct as I can (for better or worse and no matter how uncomfortable I might feel) even if it means holding my breath, then gulping, as I await an outcome. (None of us eagerly put ourselves into a situation where we might be rejected.)
I realise how discomforting and threatening this is for the vast majority of people yet I can’t dilute myself into nothingness and hide who I am in order to allow others to continue lying. When I do meet someone who is genuine and holds honesty as a core value, my heart truly sings! But they are rare finds indeed.

A good friend of mine recently had a brief affair. She said it didn’t mean anything as it was ‘just sexual’. By not telling her husband was she protecting him or herself? I’m not sitting here in judgment (and she knows that) just using it as an example of how we live our lives. It is inevitable that we lose any sense of the sacred within our relationships (sexual, platonic, intimate or acquaintance) by not being completely honest.

Perhaps I’ve been lucky in that I’ve sincerely not met any men in the past 11 or so years for whom I’d want to rip my clothes off and risk everything I hold dear in my marriage (ok, apart from Colin Firth and the ever so ruggedly handsome Martin Shaw ~ but they’re not real are they?) so Paul is at no risk of me straying. One thing I do know is that I would NOT (for even a nanosecond) be able to come home and look him in the eye if I had been with someone else. It would be an absolute impossibility for me. I’ve often said to Paul that if he met someone for whom he couldn’t resist to please have the KINDNESS to tell me at the outset so that I’m not in the dark and am in a position to make choices.

John Prescott, the UK deputy prime minister, when proverbially caught with his pants down said he ‘regretted’ the two year affair. I’ll bet the only thing he regretted was getting caught! It simply wouldn’t have lasted two years if he had ANY conscience. And did he regret lying? I find it hard to respect a man who has sex with a woman for two years and then says something like that. And the other side is that he withheld the truth to his wife (if only by omission though no less of a lie) for two years! Not one lie, not two lies but two years’ worth of lies.

So how do you go about functioning in a dysfunctional world where people don’t tell the truth, even to their lover? How do we get ‘real’ when there are no role models, guideposts and societal encouragement? It’s a personal risk into rarely explored territory and we go into it alone. It takes bravery and practice. Sometimes we’ll stumble and wonder if it is even worth it, especially when it means heartbreakingly editing a name from your address book.
I spent some time with a friend in our local independent bookshop a couple of days ago having a heart to heart about people. She looked at me right in the eye as if she had a ‘light-bulb’ moment and said I was the most honest person she knew (and Paul) and then said, “I don’t know how you do it. I even lie to myself.”

Most of us are in denial about one thing or another but her words have haunted me ever since. “I even lie to myself.” I loved that she recognised it and was so honest about that!
People withhold the truth to protect either themselves or the other person ~ though nearly always it is their own backside they’re covering. For me, lying equals betrayal. If a person’s words are used to wear a mask then how can you be on equal footing with them? You can’t! I’m just not prepared to play such games of Hide and Seek and to partake in superficial relationships. There’s no point.

It doesn’t mean I don’t forgive or indeed care about such people but it does mean I no longer choose to invest my heart and soul into potentially destructive relationships. Anything less than openness IS destructive. Perhaps that makes us both losers if I choose to move away. But to do anything else would always feel like looking at these people through very dusty, grimy windows.

Yesterday I was sitting in my front garden soaking up the sun when an 88 year old man from our village stopped by for a chat. The conversation turned to his education and that he still had his school report cards! Apparently he was a brilliant student and I could come and see them for myself if I wanted. Clearly to hang on to bits of paper for 7 or 8 decades shows how important it was to him.

At school I was unanimously voted by my teachers as the one kid who wouldn’t succeed in life. Too busy staring out the windows; NOT doing homework; rebelling; questioning EVERYTHING; choosing esoteric subjects like reincarnation to do for my projects (why couldn’t I do something sensible like gravitation or medicine or tractors?)

Our society values how many square feet your lifetime-chain-around-your-neck-mortgage can buy you or the school your kids go to or the colour of your car (trust me, I know people for whom this is a serious concern!) or where you take your annual holiday.

How do I measure my success? I have a marriage that money couldn’t buy and very healthy children. Maybe my school teachers were prophetic. Maybe they knew I couldn’t play ball in the ‘real world’ and wear the masks that get us through adult life. Success, for me, is an inner feeling not a measuring stick to throw at my neighbour.

The swallows have arrived. I can hear Eliza out in the village, full of the joys of Spring, yelling out to me in excitement that the first Cow Parsley is in flower. Better go and see! Ciao, Veronika

Winners vs Losers
A winner is always part of the answer. A loser is always part of the problem.
A winner always has a plan. A loser always has an excuse.
A winner says: "Let me do it for you."A loser says: "That is not my job."
A winner sees an answer for any problem. A loser sees a problem for any answer.
A winner says: "It may be difficult but it's possible."A loser says: "It may be possible but it's too difficult."

Author Unknown


Ariel said...

Veronika, this is a very touching and beautiful post, and one that went straight to the core of my being. Like you, I endeavour to give honesty pride of place in my life. Recently things have got a little more complex, there is love everywhere and indeed more than one person to love. There is nothing remotely straightforward about this - one the one hand there is a beautiful creature I have known a long time whom I adore [Funflesh] but who only wants 'fun' and says he is not bothered about who I see; and on the other, someone who suddenly 'happened' despite the above [Talent] and whom I am growing to love more and more each day. I immediately told Talent about my existing situation and he vowed never to pass judgement or force me into a choice - we discuss this often. I am dealing with it all the only way I know how, namely being the class clown... but it makes everything no less complex. Is it possible to love two people at once do you think? No amount of Pukka Clarity tea seems to bring out a definite answer I'm afraid! Anyway, just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your blogging - feel free to get in touch if you like.

Askinstoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Veronika said...

hi Ariel ~

You ask "Is it possible to love two people at once do you think?"


And if the people involved are all aware of what's happening (as in your case)..then how can there be a problem? It is when things are hidden away and deceit becomes the norm that we bring trauma and upset into our lives.
Thanks for sharing ..both Funflesh and Talent sound great :-))
~ Veronika ~

jood said...

great with you all the way on being open..i believe the best way forward in this is in being it..who was it said to be the change we wish to see
love j

Veronika said...

Lovely to see you here Jood!
Recently visited your blog too :-))