Had a call from Darren (not his real name) yesterday. If you read my blog on Tuesday you'll know Darren has been lying about what's really going on in his life. Now, on the scale of grand things happening in my life, Darren's lies are inconsequential. But, on the scale of past experience shedding light on today's occurences, and being a measure of how far I've come from the darkness of the past, this is big.
One of the ploys often used by conmen, when caught in a lie, is to suggest the lie was necessary to.... well, they'll often hint at some dark, mysterious reason why the lie was necessary to protect the innocent, to help a lost soul, to protect their big toe from getting stubbed. Now, all of this will be alluded to, never completely explained because, well really, you don't believe me anyway, you're already judging me, why should I even bother to tell you the truth?
The truth is, whatever subterfuge they're using, it's to protect the lie and to keep you from seeing the truth.
Listening to Darren yesterday, I felt myself pulled back into that time when lies were woven into the daily fabric of my existence weaving a web of terror, and I was lost in the quagmire of trying to figure out fact from fiction. It was a painful time. A time of horror. A time of sadness.
The horror and terror weren't there yesterday, just the sadness.
I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe his lies. I wanted to give him another chance. But I know I can't.
Second chances were the lifeblood to Conrad's lying. Like the EverReady bunny, Conrad would keep lying and lying and lying as long as I kept believing and believing and believing. I was the battery feeding his insatiable need to keep going. Today, I know someone else is his battery. It is the nature of the beast. That is sad, but I know I cannot stop his lying. All I can do is stop his lies in my life. In that process my susceptibility to be drawn into the lie, as I found out yesterday, has shifted.
See, this isn't about Darren's lying. It's about what I do with the truth.
A reader wrote to tell me that when I wrote about what had happened as a consequence of Darren's lies, I made myself sound superior to him. Wow. Now that I didn't see. Nor do I believe. I am not better than, other than, greater than anyone -- I am enough, exactly the way I am.
In context to Darren's lies, I am wise. Not a judgement. A statement of fact.
Through the experience with Conrad, I have developed the capacity to accept someone will lie -- it's up to me to be accountable for my truth.
It was hard talking to Darren yesterday. The words he used, the tricks he employed, were so familiar to me. I'd heard them all before from a man I once loved. Part of me wanted to scream at Darren, to STOP IT! Stop lying. Deceiving. Stop trying to con me. The other part wanted to hang up and not have to deal with the truth.
And that's where courage, strength and knowledge came to bear. I had to tell Darren the truth. I had to be accountable for my actions in cancelling his speaking engagements. What he does with that truth is up to him. I can't devote a lot of time to figuring out what Darren will or will not do. I don't need to try to figure out what was a lie, and what is truth -- it doesn't matter. I do not accept the unacceptable. Lying is unacceptable. What I need to do is let it go.
Which is why I write it out here. Letting it go requires thought. To let something go, I need to know what that something is. In this case, it's my need to believe someone isn't lying when I know they are. It's my need to want to 'make it all right.' To fix this problem so that Darren can continue on giving talks, changing his life and other lives in the process. It's my need to want everything to continue on as it was and to avoid the hard truth -- I am not responsible for Darren's lies. I am responsible for me.
In me, two voices battle it out, fighting to gain supremacy over my peace of mind. Those voices carry two tapes that took seed in my psyche long ago. "It's all your fault." and "You're stupid to have believed."
I know what's happened with Darren is not my fault. Could I have seen the lies sooner? Possibly. I knew the possibility existed. I work in a homeless shelter -- it's an ideal place for conmen and sociopath's to ply their trade. Most people lie about every day occurrences to protect themselves from feeling the pain of what has happened to their lives. In Darren's case, I believe the lies comes from a deeper place. He says it himself in his presentations, "I'm a conman. I could talk anyone out of anything or into anything." Yup, like most conmen, he told me what he was doing, I didn't want to listen to that part, I wanted to hear about what he was doing to change his life.
Life is filled with little absurdities. I realize how much I knew even before the events of this week. Which helps me let go of my tapes. I had no control over what Darren was doing -- all I can control is how I responded and act today. I don't consider myself stupid. I am human, flawlessly imperfect in my capacity to accept what is until such time it isn't.
Darren lied and I had the opportunity to meet myself in the mirror and say, "You're okay Louise. Conrad is gone. That was then. This is now. You don't have to accept his lies as truth. You don't have to fall beneath the weight of your disbelief, and you definitely don't have to save him."
Sadness lifts and peace of mind flows into the space left behind with the gentle pulse of waves wasing against the sand. In working with Darren to help him find a new path out of his past, I stayed true to my beliefs, values and morals. In recognizing where I needed to change, I turned up, paid attention, spoke my truth, and stayed unattached to the outcome. My best is good enough.
The question is: Where do you avoid facing the truth in your desire to hang onto someone or something that is hurting you? Where do you refuse to turn up for yourself and be held accountable?