Welcome to the Sunday Sermon, where the topic for today is why even small lies can cause massive rifts in relationships and how we move forward in spite of them.
Yesterday, I found out that someone I considered a friend had violated my trust. I let my guard down, shared deep parts of my own psyche, and baggage, and in return, what I got were lies. Dumb lies. Lies that in the grand scheme of things, don't even matter.
Over the course of my life, like everyone of course, I've been fed lies; little white lies, big lies, egregiously easy to fact check lies. I grew up with a father that lied to me from the time I was able to understand words. From the "daddy's going on a business trip" that was code for what I found out were affairs, to "Your mother stole all of my money and buried it in the lawn" as an excuse to why he couldn't pay child support, my father was a master at lying, spinning, and deceiving... something that's not all that uncommon for alcoholics.
Psychologists say (or maybe just mine) that kids who grow up in abusive households with an alcoholic parent as I did, not only have a very low tolerance for lies, they also are forced to quickly develop a highly sensitive bullshit radar. They harden early (not James) and are quick to cut people off (not in the lane).
I am a walking example of this. I'm constantly assessing whether someone is overexaggerating, omitting, prevaricating, or just straight out feeding me that BS. It takes me a long time to fully trust someone with information, and even longer to trust them with my feelings. In the past, I've cut off both sisters, my father, friends. All for breaches of trust. Like a bandaid, the relationship is ripped off, and I move on as if they never existed.
While authentically playful, I've built a cool exterior that prevents people from knowing how to hurt me. If a parent or sibling is capable of betraying you, then anyone is capable of it at any moment. I still fact check my own mom to this day.
But this thought process isn't healthy. Vulnerability is what is required for deep and meaningful relationships and connections with the world around us.
Last May, I met a stranger that helped me to realize that some of my greatest needs were not being met because I wouldn't be vulnerable. I came to understand that our deepest needs as humans were to be deeply seen and known. But how can we be seen, known, and truly loved if we stay behind our proverbial "masks"?
We can't. So instead of being hurt, we feel a little empty and lonely. At least I did.
So I decided that I would from now on lead a life with as much honesty and vulnerability as I could. This was the primary motivation to start the Sunday Sermon... well that and to talk about dick size. I would try and make people feel good, share parts of my own insecurities, faults, and mistakes, knowing I might be judged in order to give others permission to do the same. I would take off the mask and do my best to trust.
But as momma Krick always says, "trust in Allah, but tie up your camel".
When I found out yesterday that my trust was betrayed, I gave them the chance to own up. They evaded and squirmed again, even as I shared I thought I was being lied to. The only reason they told me the truth was because I placed the truth receipts right into their iMessage. And then, only then came the "I fucked up" apology.
If we can't trust someone to be honest about the small stuff, what is the relationship really?
Fucked. The friendship is fucked.
My initial instinct was to retreat and cut our ties and my losses. But the truth is, that would hurt me just as much as them. Not because I need them, or their friendship per se, but because doing that is slipping back into my old patterns of behaviors that I've identified to be harmful to my mental and emotional state.
After hours of reflecting I've decided that while words matter, and the truth matters, actions matter as much, if not more than words do. And the truth is, this person has proven through their actions of loyalty, friendship, and service that they are someone that is deserving of what little grace I can muster up in my heart. I've never been particularly graceful (ask my ballet instructors), but I do know what it's like to fuck up, and feel horrible.
I too, have lied about dumb shit. I too have lied about big things. I've lied to impress, I've lied out of fear, I've lied to protect others.
In the end, we all fuck up. We all lie. And that's really the point of this Sunday Sermon. If we cut off everyone in our life who we catch in a lie or who we think has done us wrong, eventually, we're going to look around and see no one but ourselves. Friendships are complicated, and friendships ebb and flow, so we have to assess what mistakes or betrayals blow up the relationship and render it totaled, and which are worth repairing.
In a time where the world seems to be falling apart in almost every conceivable way, the last thing we should be doing is warring with our friends, holding on to beef where there is more good than bad, and causing more angst in our life at a time when we're already grappling with unprecedented stress. Give yourself time to breathe, assess, and let time pass enough where you don't make a hair-trigger decision you may regret. And if you do end up walking away, maybe just wait until we get a vaccine for COVID because until then, we may not have too many opportunities to develop new friendships.
Making friends is insanely hard as it is, it's even more difficult when you're rocking a mask and have to keep your 6ft of distance.