Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Alcohol and Lying

I read a post by another blogger recently where she was upset because she knew someone had lied.  I totally get that.  It bothers me as well when I know that about someone.

I've always prided myself on not lying.  It's not because I'm better than anyone else, and to tell you the truth, not lying is really more of a weakness than a strength.  I get physically ill at lying.

I could not look a boss in the eye and say "I was sick" yesterday.  It is easier for me to show up at work or to just say I can't come in.  Honesty can get me into trouble.

I can't even compliment someone on a hairstyle if I don't mean it.  I don't say anything bad but I have always avoiding saying anything as opposed to half truths.  I struggle with even the white lies.

I was betrayed in my first marriage and it was the lying that disoriented me.  It wasn't the fact that he had affairs and, since I always try to see every side to every issue, I probably even tried to own up to my role in them......what was wrong in our marriage?.....what could I have done different? ....etc.  But the lying killed me.  I couldn't understand how someone who supposedly loved me could lie to me.  I began to realize over the years that people who love you, whom you love, can lie as well.

My current hubby will lie.  He doesn't do it on big issues but he is capable and doesn't deny it.  If I want to get off the phone with a family member I usually just say "okay, I am going to go now but I'll call you later" or something like that.  I heard hubby the other night tell a caller from his alma mater that he was in a like 8pm.  I don't understand why he didn't just say "I am not interested right now in donating but, yes, you have my info correct."  His argument is that he doesn't want to be that brutally honest, doesn't want to make them feel bad.

So, that being said, after reading the post, I initiated a conversation with my hubby that went something like this......and believe it or not we are still together:  :-)

Me: So I read a post about lying and it's making me think.  Why is it that you can lie and I can't?
Him: You lie
Me: No I don't
Him: Okay, fine, you don't.
Me: But, really, I am so black and white and you are gray.  I wish I was more able to see the gray in things. What makes you different?
Him:  Well, I don't lie about major things, important things.  Maybe I'm not as skilled as you.

One of the remarkable things about him is that once he realizes I am not trying to provoke him on an issue, he has some insightful things to say.  He basically boiled it down to two reasons why I don't lie.

1) I am very verbal.  I am skilled at saying something close to the truth, possibly omitting the truth without specifically lying.  Not everyone may be as verbally comfortable as I am.

2) I am fortunate enough to live within circumstances that don't often necessitate a reason to lie.

It really forced me to think.  It's so easy to say "I don't lie" and to get my panties in a wad when others do.  He's right.  There are circumstances where I would lie and he caused me to think about them.

- if I was in Nazi Germany, I would have lied to protect others.  No doubt.  (Okay, yes, but I can justify any lying that is against evil.)

- if I worked for the CIA and had to lie to others as a part of my job I would.  (I argued I wouldn't take that kind of job, but, if I did, I could justify that as a necessity of the job, not my own character flaw.)

- if my son was in a school play that was very important for me to be there, I likely would have "called in sick" to see it.  I wouldn't have risked a job and putting food on the table by saying I needed to see the play if I knew I had a boss who wouldn't allow it.  (He got me there.  I have pretty much always worked for myself so have never had to make that decision, to miss things for my son that I didn't want to.)

My stepson visits and keeps walking off with my son's clothes.  2 visits ago,  I asked, before we went to the airport, if he could check to see if he had anything of my son's in his backpack.  (I realized some things were about to go missing.)  He goes into his backpack and was like "oops, are these his?"... and pulls out two shirts.  I made a big deal of thanking him and he said there weren't any more.  Then, when he went to brush his teeth, I looked in the backpack and grabbed the other shirt he hadn't pulled out.  He probably realized it when he got home but I never confronted him.

Then, this last visit, he packed his own bag and I just let it go.  But there went the same shirts again and this time they are MIA. It wasn't the stealing that got to me, it was the lying.  I told a work acquaintance about this and thought I would get empathy about the little lying cheat.  Instead the answer was "how flattering.  He clearly wants a piece of your son, someone he perceives as his brother."  and  "I used to steal my cousin's stuff all the time, it wasn't really stealing." That threw me.  Hmmm..  Other issues could be at play here too but it was an interesting answer.

Anyway, it made me consider being a little more tolerant toward lying.  Oh sure, some lies are intolerable, but maybe when we catch that person lying, it's not so important to make a stink about it.  We don't know what may be prompting that lie, we don't necessarily need to assume that it's personal against us.  Maybe I wouldn't lie in that situation but who am I to judge?

And......let's face it....clearly, I have much as I am in denial.  As my hubby said, perhaps more by being verbal and avoiding the direct lies, but he is right, I have done it.  And to those I love.

Every time my son remarked that I seemed really "tired" or "dizzy" last night, I agreed.  I never said "Mommy had too much to drink".  One night I had had too much and then went to bed.  About an hour later the dog needed to go out and woke me up out of a passed out but still drunk sleep.  I stumbled to the door and forgot the alarm was on.  Woke the house up.  Then, I was still too drunk to figure out how to turn it off.  Hubby came and got it.  I was walking around dizzy and waiting for the alarm call.  My son saw this.  Finally we all went back to bed.  But the next morning I brought it up and said "wow, did you get back to sleep okay after my alarm debaucle?"  He looked at me funny.  It had only been 11pm, he hadn't gone to bed yet.  Oops.  I said, "wow, I was so tired and it's weird how I react from waking up in a deep sleep, I was so disoriented".  He gave me another look and said "yeh, you seemed really dizzy".  I said "yes, it's how I am sometimes when really tired."

Yep, I lied, pretty much no doubt about it.  This post was a good reminder to me that I'm not a perfect person.  That I may need to get down off my high horse a bit.  That's great that in general I may try to not lie but really it's just because that is where my comfort zone is, not my capable zone.

Also a great reminder of how alcohol can bring things out in us of which we aren't proud.  Not dealing with that is so much easier!


  1. Martha Beck (that great columnist in Oprah magazine) says that after having some kind of experience (I believe it was a near death experience), she came back unable to lie. It would be interesting in finding out how that works for her. As a child, having a vivid imagination, I always told imaginative stories when asked questions, and I sometimes find myself wanting to embellish here or there just to make a story more interesting, HOWEVER, like you, I am compelled to try to be as truthful as possible, now that I am no longer drinking. While drinking, anything went. I had to lie to cover up all kinds of poor behavior, and then I couldn't remember what I said.
    What I do know is that people lie for reasons that have nothing to do with wanting to deceive. I try to think of what their motive is, or what mine is in skewing the truth. Is the motive to spare someone's feelings? I would have a hard time giving that one up. What would Martha say about that, I wonder. ; )

    1. A true issue for all of us who live behind the "holier than thou" attitude like I did with "I never lie".

      Like a pig in straw I lied.

      I made the unconscious decision that as long as I agreed to the lie then it was OK - everyone else's lies are the sin or all sins. Talk about having the blinkers on. They are off now and it is hard to face but as Ellen DG said on Oprah's Masterclass "accept who you are and live who you are" then everything else will be ok.

      Have to laugh a little when I read this with my stupid brain saying "I wonder who lied?" :) xx
      M x

    2. "people lie for reasons that have nothing to do with wanting to deceive". I'm going to keep that quote with me forever! It's a perfect way to word what I was trying to say. You also brought back a flood of memories with your reply. My mom embellishes stories all time or gets facts totally screwed up, one or the other. I caught myself when I was younger, embellishing stories for entertainment value and one day I asked myself why I felt the need to do that. So I stopped and started seeing lying as my "mom's" thing. To this day she does it and drives me crazy. She comes up with memories that are way out of whack. I've realized though that it is her power base. In addition to rewriting history to suit her, her standard responses to anything I tell her are "I knew that so and so" or "I wondered about that earlier" (meaning before I told her something new) or even "Yes, so and so said that to me" (even if they hadn't). I kind of feel sorry for her but I love her and she has been a good mother. It's just how she satisfies her sense of self, this need to have known things first, been "in the know" before anyone else. She isn't intentionally trying to make crap up, but in the interest of satisfying her needs, she often does and will deny it. Your post really brought a lot back to me, thanks.

  2. My experience is that when people get sober they embrace the idea of rigorous honesty. And at that point it is obvious looking back that most lies (or omissions) were self protective. And often unnecessary. And all part of a need to hide my true self.

    Kids know exactly what's going on. Mine talk openly about my "dizziness" and sleeping and even though Cleo was only 7 she knew it was too much wine.

    I really try to never lie now. Not even a little white lie. I can't stand anything that causes me fear or worry.

    I have really learned that it is so much easier to deal with immediate consequences. I keep trying to instil that into my kids, but perhaps it needs to be learned from hard experience.

  3. When I was younger I worked in a large clothing store. I used to work saturdays but got a day off mid week in lieu. It was not uncommon to get a phonecall on my day off asking me to go in and cover someone. I tried to avoid answering the phone just in case. One day I picked it up and my boss was on the other end. ' Hi jenna is that you?'to which I replied 'no, this is Jenna's mum speaking' he replied ' wow you sound just like Jenna' 'yes, everyone tells me that'. He knew it was me. But I had to live with that stupid lie, adding to the story by telling anyone at work who would listen how similar my mum and I were. So stupid. I still cringe thinking about it.