This post is about lying. I want to preface this by saying that I can’t say that I’ve never lied in my life. This means that I don’t want to judge anyone else for telling a lie. The plain truth is that while sometimes I’ve told a little lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, I’ve also told a few to avoid dealing with someone or something. Maybe I just didn’t want to go to an event, so I told a half truth and half lie to get out of it. Inside, it rests uneasily and I’ll take an inordinate amount of energy pondering how I can next navigate a similar situation truthfully. It bothers me, and doesn’t rest easily within.
Saying all that, my husband has lied to me a lot.
On Thursday morning, he told me a stupid lie. We were starting the usual morning meeting, and I asked him if he’d remembered to send a specific paper trail email to a client, something I’d asked him to follow up on from the day before.. He said he had, but darn it, my lie radar started beeping.
I said, “So if I open the sent mail from yesterday afternoon, it should be there, right?”
And he said, “Yes, it should be.”
Lie radar… beeping more loudly. I decided to open the business email and look. More accurately, I almost felt compelled to do it, because I wanted to end the confused, disoriented feeling one way or another.
He actually said a couple more times that it should be there, and then finally he said he ‘thought’ he’d sent it. Of course it wasn’t there because he never sent it, and instead of just saying, ‘not yet’ or ‘I forgot but I will’, he lied about it and then just sat there pretending while I looked.
How do I know he lied? Because after searching and sifting unsuccessfully through a pile of emails, I pulled my chair back, and looked at him, and said, “You’re lying. You knew as soon as I asked you that you hadn’t sent it. Why didn’t you just say so?”
And there was an infinitesimal flicker of something in his eyes. It’s as though he’s weighing whether or not he’s really caught in the lie, and whether or not he can get away with it. With a passive aggressive, you have to learn to read the most subtle of nuances and barely perceptible body language. I guess it’s good that if he lies, it can still be seen (even if barely), in the window of his soul.
He saw that I’d seen that flicker. He knew that I KNEW and so he admitted that he’d lied.
He’s told many lies to me over the years. He’s lied about big stuff, small stuff, and medium stuff. But he also tells lies that just don’t make any sense. The kind of lies where I scratch my head and wonder why in the world he lied.
He’s lied about big stuff like not telling me about a job offer he got that would have benefited me at the time, all because he wanted to take another one anyway. He’s lied about why he bought the wrong kind of sausage.
A crazy story: Several years ago, I was making a special meal for one of our sons, and asked him to get a certain brand/flavor of sausage. He came home from the store, and while I was busy doing something he said, “Would you like me to get the sausage started on a skillet?”
I thought… how sweet, how thoughtful… and said, “Sure!”
It turned out that he just didn’t want me to see the packaging and know what kind he bought! When our son snitched a bite as I was cooking, he told me that the sausage tasted funny. I said, “Oh, oh, I hope it was okay! Maybe we accidentally got something past date, or a bad batch.”
I taste the sausage and said, “Ooh… that does taste funny!”
My husband said, “Oh, um… they were out of the kind you asked for, so I had to get X brand/flavor.”
Lie Radar… beep beep beep.
I stood there feeling very confused and disoriented. I said, “If I call the store right now, will they tell me that they’re out of what I asked for?”
Now I felt an invisible projectile of anger from him. I could only feel it, not hear it or see it yet.
He said, “I just wanted to try this kind! Is there a problem with that?”
No. No, of course not. What kind of bitchy and controlling wife would mind that? Except… he doesn’t eat sausage. He doesn’t like sausage. (He ate a few bites of it to prove his point later, but then went back to his non-sausage-eating ways.) (And for whatever reasons, he actually admitted later that he’d lied about it, and didn’t know why he didn’t buy what I asked.)
The plain bizarre truth of it is that he felt compelled to get something other than what I asked for, and then lied about it.
I often thought to myself that if I left him one day, and later on someone would ask me why, I’d just reply, “He bought the wrong kind of sausage.”