If you ask me about myself, one of the first things I will tell you is that I am, generally speaking, honest to a fault. That doesn’t mean that I am heartless and cruel. I will occasionally sugar coat the truth to protect feelings as necessary. I just very seldom intentionally lie. In the past, I have told my family members, bluntly, how they make me feel. I have answered questions about a particular haircut in a gentle, yet honest manner when the hairstylist obviously did not understand what my friend had wanted. That is why my big fat lie caught me totally off guard the other day. Not only did I lie, I lied to a very good friend and then, shockingly enough, I embellished the lie in a desperate attempt to make it sound more true. The sad part . . . there was absolutely no reason to lie. And yet, I felt compelled to perpetuate a falsehood upon my very dearest friend, a friend that I deeply respect and trust.
I had stopped by my friend’s house on my way home from work to deliver a delayed gift. (See, I love this friend!) As we were sitting in her living room, she asked about my family. I told her that my son was due to ship out to basic training over the weekend. Since it was what he had aspired to do since he was a small child, we knew that it was his plan and his signing did not come as a surprise. As I talked to her, my eyes began to water. Self-consciously, I wiped at one, then the other. Obviously, my friend noticed my movement and could, more than likely, sense my emotional reaction to my eldest child growing up and moving on. “Are you okay?” she asked gently.
There it was, out there in the open. A big fat bald face lie and we both knew it. I had just lied to my friend. I felt the lie cross my lips and knew it wasn’t too late to pull it back and tell the truth but I forged on ahead . . . “It’s allergies . . . from the rain.”
Then, I quickly changed the subject. I asked her how work was. We chatted about her job then I circled back. (Probably out of guilt) “Wow, allergy season is really kicking my tail,” I said. “Are your allergies acting up more with this heat and rain?”
She smiled at me and said that no, her allergies were no worse this year than any other year. We chatted for a bit more then I took my leave of her. She walked me out to my car and we said our goodbyes and promised to get together more often. As I backed out of her driveway, she stood watching me leave. I knew that she knew the truth. She knew I had lied to her but she was too polite to call me out on it.
The question was, why did I feel the need to lie to her? She has a grown daughter so she would have understood how difficult it is to watch a child to transition from teenager to adult. She might have been able to offer me some sage advice so why did I lie?
That evening, I spent some extra time on my emotional journal. I asked myself the same question my friend had asked me earlier. Am I okay? My answer was more truthful; I was not completely okay with the situation. I was feeling quite emotional about my son going to basic training. Even though he is only joining the reserves, the current global political climate has me worried about his future safety. I was afraid and, worse yet, I was afraid to admit to my fear. I wrote in my journal about my fear and about my shame in lying to my friend.
I spent some extra time reading back through a couple of weeks of past entries. As I did, I began to notice a pattern. There was a theme to my last entries that included depression, anxiety, stress, irritability, and sadness. While I had been diligently journaling my emotions, I had been failing to examine them. Sitting quietly, with my journal in hand, I began to process through my fears.
I turned to a new page and wrote a question at the top of the page: Will I be okay?
Then I called my friend and admitted my deception. I told her how it made me feel to realize I had lied to her. Next, I told her that I was not necessarily okay at this point but that I felt that I would be okay.
She didn’t judge me. In fact, she empathized with me and asked if there was anything she could do to help me. I told her that she was already doing what I needed the most, being a friend. We spent some additional time on the phone discussing how I felt abut my son, my family, and my feelings. While taking about my fears didn’t erase them completely, they gave me more room to breathe. I felt better knowing that I had a friend who would be there for me.
I went back to my journal and studied the question I had written. I picked up my pen and, in the middle of the page I wrote: Not yet, but I will be.