Misty Lelm on dealing with lies and dishonesty in relationships.
By Misty Lelm
As divorcees, we know how awful it feels to be lied to. From our ability to trust to our ability to open up, lies change us. However, what if we begin to see lying a bit differently. I maintain that we have been lied to since our infancy. Consider the following lies from parents throughout the ages.
“The shot won’t hurt!”;
“Santa Claus is watching”;
“Milk will make you grow big and strong”;
“Sitting too close to the TV will hurt your eyes”;
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you”;
“You’ll understand better when you are older.”
I think we can make the argument that these adages/sayings/aphorisms were nothing more than lies told to us as some form of protection from the truth. However, just as none of us died from swimming too soon after eating, we also don’t need to fear truth—we need to embrace it.
The Problem With Truth:
The problem isn’t that truth isn’t accessible—in fact, I maintain that we are surrounded by it. There are essentially two main problems with truth: it hides in plain sight and we are taught not to seek it.
The night my new boyfriend broke things off with me, he began by explaining: “I found myself no longer racing down the street to see you like I did before. Don’t you think that is a sign?”
This was followed by more signs that our relationship was amiss: He and his ex-wife weren’t getting along, he was behind on his work, the boxcar project for his kids’ annual race was behind schedule, his parents were voicing concerns about his poor taste in women, and on top of all of that, he was struggling to get a haircut and a workout in his day. He had equated the struggles of dating after divorce with signs from the universe that we were not meant to be. I was left thinking about my own sordid past with signs.
My Sordid Past With Signs:
The first came in high school when I was caught stealing one. The sign read: School Zone/No Passing. I found this to be morbidly hilarious, often complaining to my parents: “Why should I go to school? There’s no way I will pass. The sign even says it!” Later that year, when I was accused of “stealing” this very sign by my parents, I learned quickly that the writing on the wall, whether literally or metaphorically, might not be so clear.
Toward the end of the breakup speech, he simply said:
“You had to have seen this coming.”
My response was, “No, not really.”
What I saw was this: we had shared two fun-filled, sensual, comfortable vacations together. We hosted a formal dinner party on Christmas Eve for 21 guests with ease and expertise. We could finish each other’s sentences, not because we had spent all that much time together, but because we shared such a similar look at the world—and I mean the whole damn world—from religion to politics, to sports, to parenting. We had the same taste in cars, food, and music. Even our Sirius radio stations are programmed to the same coffee house station. Hell, our dogs are even named the same: Coco.
Not only did I see this, but this is also what I heard:
“I think I am becoming addicted to you.”
Then later: “I have never dated anyone who I wanted to make time for in my busy schedule.”
Followed by: “You are truly amazing,” and later when I was buying a new car, “I think you should keep an SUV that seats seven, just in case we want to travel together.”
So, did I notice that the tone of his texts were different? Yes. Gone were the days of playful pleasantries and sexual innuendos; instead of being called “Babe,” I was “Hey you,” and instead of planning our next rendezvous, I was given a list of the tasks that he was struggling to get done. Finally, he shared a story of a “friend” of his that proposed to a woman he didn’t really love, but because the woman was so extraordinary, he felt he had to.
So how was I to recognize that these three signs outweighed all of the other ones? I had to remember that each and every one of us is influenced by different people and different things. I am driven by a desire to be true to myself. The only outside influences that exist in my equation are my sons. But this isn’t the case for most people. I have no parents to please, no ex undermining my abilities nor playing on my insecurities, no peer group to impress, and no doubt that I deserve love.
I also know the truth: people are liars—both to others and themselves. In fact, according to Pam Meyer, we’re lied to 10 to 200 times a day and tell a lie ourselves an average of one to two times in the same period.
What does this all mean?
It means we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Ironically, many people claim that they don’t like “games,” and yet we find that the moment we take people at their word, we are expected to read between the lines. It means that no matter what people may say they feel or want if they haven’t done the hard work of self-actualization that a mature person must do after the trauma of divorce, well then they probably have no idea what their truth may be from one day to the next.
Again, how do we navigate such confusion? I think we turn to our most consistent relationships; of late, mine has been with the world of sports. So when I have trouble understanding men, the dating games they play, and how I should play the field, I turn to a trusted source. And who better to consult than Bill Belichick. From the tuck rule game in 2002 to the 2007 “Spygate”, to the
I think we turn to our most consistent relationships; of late, mine has been with the world of sports. So when I have trouble understanding men, the dating games they play, and how I should play the field, I turn to a trusted source.
And who better to consult than Bill Belichick. From the tuck rule game in 2002 to the 2007 “Spygate”, to the deflategate in 2015, the Patriots have continually forced viewers to consult the rule book. Many have vilified the team, but few can dispute that the team knows how to win. So for now, I think I am going to take a page from the Patriot’s playbook and use whatever means possible to stay on top, to protect my quarterback (me!) and to prevent any long-term injuries because let’s face it: a lot of people don’t play fair.
This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms
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