Word based honesty has always been very important to me. If I can be properly honest, I will be, although I recognise that there are times when honesty isn’t honourable. Truth can kill people, in some contexts. If I need to protect someone, then my preference is omission and misdirection rather than outright untruth because these cause less trouble and are easier to unpick later on.
Of course, most lying happens for a reason, and not all of it is conscious. The reasons always seem good to the person doing the lying – self protection, harm and pain avoidance, avoiding punishment and reputation damage are likely to seem good ideas. We lie in small, and less small ways to ourselves and others about how good we are, how many people love us or depend on us, and this is all about needing to feel secure. Much of the time this kind of dishonesty isn’t a major problem, but the bigger the lie, the bigger the consequences if it catches up with you. The person who has greatly invested in a lie of self worth, telling themselves and those around them how fantastic and important they are, can be setting themselves up for the most almighty fall.
I know that I have trouble being honest around a number of issues. I’ve spent years refusing to look properly at issues of pain, depression, anxiety and exhaustion, telling myself that what matters is the soldiering on regardless. I got to the point in the last year of no longer having the means to do that – the lie caught up to me, my body cannot take it anymore. I have to start facing up to my own limitations, admitting they exist, and being honest with myself, and everyone else, about what I can and can’t do.
Alongside this I’ve come to recognise that while I’m very emotionally honest if using words, I do my level best to lie with my body language – again mostly about pain, exhaustion and fear. I’ll try and put a brave face on it. I lie a lot by omission around these issues, too. Again, this summer this has caught up with me, and I’ve reached places of can’t do this anymore. It’s requiring me to think a lot about how I present myself to others, the effort involved in masking, and the possible consequences of not doing that.
I lie to make life easier for other people. I lie in fear that if I am honest, people will think I am attention seeking or making a fuss. Sometimes I lie about things because it seems more professional to do so, and I have to wonder about how much of that goes on out there. When did being professional become more important than being real, or being human? I lie because it’s easier than having to explain.
How much of this should I change? How much do I want to change? How much of this is about changing what I do, and my choice of situations? I’m going to try and be more conscious about where I’m quietly lying about how I’m doing, and see whether those are really situations I need to be in, or whether, for the greater part, I can step away from the spaces where I don’t feel it’s safe or appropriate to be honest. I’m tired of pretending to be better than I am.