Monday, January 21, 2013

Little Whites

He'll say what you want to hear in order to achieve his
goal of being a real boy. This is a story about lies. Or vice
versa.
Ever told a lie? Then you're a storyteller. It's that simple.

When I was very, very young I did a drawing on the wall of my parents' home and signed my brother's name. He was just getting sort of facile with crayons and I don't remember my motivation in doing the drawing in the first place but I'm told I did. I have no recollection of the event so I can't say but I can certainly infer that I wanted to get away with doing something that I knew was wrong.

The way I hear the story is that my Mom asked me what I'd done, why had I drawn on the wall? "I didn't," I said (again, this is what's been reported to me over the years), "[my brother] did. See? He signed his name." I pointed and was probably pretty proud of myself. I can imagine that even if I don't exactly remember.

"He couldn't have," Mom says. "He spells his name backwards."

Dammit, I was busted.

There have been other lies over the years, various things here and there. All of them are stories. All of them designed to make me look better to whomever I was talking to.

And I've been lied to, as well. By people near and dear to me, even. Hell, we all have if you think about it. Generally the lies we hear and the ones we tell are not meant to hurt someone else but sometimes they do. Sometimes you run into the one reprehensible person who creates a lie from a germ of truth that others are willing to believe. When the accused admits to the partial truth it only sinks her deeper. If that one part is true why not the rest?

That's the scary part of being the victim of a lie, when just enough truth is embellished with more than enough lie. It can change the course of the victim's life.

In some instances. Your mileage may vary.

The point I'm making here is that lies - that is, untrue stories - are meant to make one person look better than another for the gain of the person telling the lie. Simple lies are one thing, where saving face is what's important. I understand that. No one wants to look foolish when a mistake has been made and throwing someone else under the bus is easier than owning up to your mistake.

The big lies, the ones that ARE meant to hurt, are the worst. Anyone who's been the victim of one of those lies will understand.

How difficult is it to lie? Some people are very good at it, as if it comes naturally to them. Others are not, you can tell immediately that they don't know the tradecraft of lying.

But that makes all of them, all of US, storytellers. That means that - whether good or bad - we can invent something that could plausibly be the truth. Put two people together and you'll get different accounts of the meeting. That's point of view, isn't it? If you assume they're both telling the truth. However if one of the storytellers is unreliable - meaning you believe he could lie to you - then the stories not only get interesting, they become compelling.

And that's when people can get hurt, when lives can be changed. Sometimes those changes end up being the best thing that can happen. But it can be a long road to getting there, and that road is fraught with all sorts of dangers, not the least of which is depression.

Which is a lie you keep repeating until you believe it to be true. (I know this isn't the absolute truth, but it is a truth. One of many regarding the disease of depression. I'm making a point here, bear with me. I understand. Really. No, really.)

And what happens then? The axiom that the lie repeated becomes the truth is an axiom because it's TRUE.

So we're all lying liars. Care to share a lie you've told? The same rules apply: nothing that hurt anyone terribly. Change names, dates, places, but feel free to share.