When I was little, I loved playing in the sandbox at my daycare. All the cool kids were doing it. By cool kids, I mean every 5 or 6 year-old who didn’t have a trike, or doll in their dirty little paws. There were so many things you could do in a sandbox, between digging tunnels and connecting little caves, to building forts, to my favorite — walking the perimeter while imagining the sand is hot lava that will melt you instantly if you fall in.
KAA-POW! Sheer unadulterated bliss!
Yet my mom absolutely forbade it. To her, it was a huge box teeming with stray cat shit. A homeless encampment bathroom for deranged furry felines. At any moment my tiny little hands could come across those hardened balls of feces.
So most of the time, I would sit watching the other kids play the games I wanted to involve myself in, not understanding the unfairness of why their parents didn’t care about little balls of poop, that for all the digging in my young life, I had never come across. Quite often the temptation would overcome me, and being the tiny emboldened gambler that I was, I would take that roll of the dice and end up in the forbidden box, running my fingers thru the cool underlying layers of the sand.
Afterwards, like an embarrassed binger, I would come to my senses, and try to remove all traces of the sand from my being. Shaking out my little dress, and washing my hands. But I never could quite get all the sand out of my shoes, or maybe a pocket or two. I was thinking like a 6-year old for Christ’s sake, and didn’t know that my mom was two steps ahead of me. I don’t know which came first, the lies, or the Gestapo-like treatment where my mother would comb thru my belongings looking for a grain or two of the shit-ridden dirt. She would always find it, and my first reaction was always the same – I would lie.
I wonder at times how she was able to keep a straight face at the litany of stories I would come up. Little me, eyes big and full of tears, attempting to sway the jury with my stories of how the world was out to get me. Once, I said I was walking the rim of the box, and some mean person pushed me in. Another was a little asshole (my adult words, not my childhood ones) who purposely sprinkled sand on my shoes so I would get in trouble. Really, I would exclaim! The rest of the time I would simply deny the sand she saw existed. It was old sand from the time before. It was the dirt, not sand, from playing in the tree circles. Finally when all lies were exhausted I would promise, I would swear, I would never do it again.
Each time she would remind me I was getting in twice the trouble, one for disobeying, and the other? For lying.
Lying to my mom was one of the things that would guarantee you a spanking. Yet, as little kids, I think for many of us, it’s an automatic response. Whether it’s fear of repercussions, or the need to please, I’ve seen studies where children automatically lie. It’s teaching them the reasons behind why we shouldn’t lie that make the difference. Apparently a hairbrush to the ass, is not the best way to teach.
I’d love to say that I grew up realizing that lying was this huge sin, and I learned my lesson after the sandbox incidents. The truth is, it took a while – but I think her drilling into me how bad lying was, really stuck with me, because as an adult, it just became the worst thing you could do to me. I got the message, 20 years later. It was something I really pounded into my own kids – in this case, figuratively, not literally – and it seemed to stick for the most part. I told them that while the truth might be harder, in the long run it would benefit, because I would always know I could count on them for their word. Your word. Let that sink in for a moment. Who are you without that? I let them know that a lie was really the worst thing, because it was a huge ball of all the worst things you think a person can do. You steal trust. You kill your own word.
Now let me clarify that I’m not so much of a freak that I haven’t told my share of white lies. “No, those pants don’t make your ass look fat.” Kinda lies. “I really think this is a 24-hour flu, I’ll be in, in the morning.” Kinda fibs. I’m not saint like. Some might say I am a hypocrite for condoning white lies. Yeah, maybe I am. I look at those as more of half-truths. It’s inter-personal situations that lies cannot be allowed to roam. They are like roaches, and will do nothing more than breed.
I can’t remember the first guy who lied to me, or the lie he told. It’s irrelevant. I remember some. My high school sweetheart lying about spending the day at a neighbor girls house. The lie, just made me think more had to have happened, for him to lie about it to begin with. Mostly, I recall, how lying would steal this piece of trust from the foundation I had. Ruined Trust. Insecurity. Jealousy — these are all born of lies that are planted. I don’t hold to the fact that all men lie, but there is something about me that attracts a good part of those that do. I don’t like what lies turn me into. I am a trusting person. I am the one who gives you trust until you screw it up. I am the one who believes when you say it won’t happen again ….
Except … that it most always certainly does happen again.
Initially, when the lie and/or being caught would happen, I would get the same list of excuses that I swear, six year old me would have spouted off. I would get promises, bargains, sometimes – explanations that it really wasn’t a lie. Or that the lie was soooo small, it shouldn’t count against them. Or that they offered up the truth, so that should count for something. But that was rarely the case. I think once you’ve grown into the adult world, and brought lying as a coping mechanism into your life, it remains. It’s the backdoor. The escape hatch. Coming clean to me before you are caught? Yeah, it should count for something, but the reality is, you have that capability, and now I know it.
The hardest part? Wanting with every fiber of your being to believe it. That it was an isolated incident. That it was not a clear cut showing of character.
When my last long term relationship ended, I told myself no more. I would never ever put up with a single bold-faced lie from a man again. Because like all the times before, the one consistency that allowed the pain, was me accepting that statement, “I promise I will never lie about anything again, if you’ll just forgive me this one time.” Forgiveness is a good quality, right? A gift. I like/love this man, so I should give him another chance, right?
Nope. Not for me. Not anymore. I don’t want to be that person checking your pockets for sand. Questioning your answers when my senses tell me otherwise.
So to those of you out there, male or female (because trust me this isn’t a guy thing. I know as many lying women, as I do men), think twice. Ask yourself what is motivating you to lie. If it’s worth the complete collapse of something; Whether it’s being newly constructed, or firmly built. Ask yourself if that stupid statement, that denial, that made up fib is of value to you only. To save face, or save your ass or worse yet because you don’t know. Because someday you will run into a person who tells you that they simply cannot take one. more. lie. And I’m sorry, but I am betting that they mean it.