Lying is a painful thing. It hinders us from being truthful, honest, sincere and genuine. Concealing lies does not dismiss them. Instead, hiding them only magnifies, intensifies and propagates their power over us.
The news of my dad’s death was delivered to my siblings and I by way of Mom or by way of the eldest sibling. The agreed message was, “His heart just stopped.” There was no other explanation, no elaboration or amplification. Just the supposed fact. No room was given for questions or discussion.
Though some of my siblings settled for the lie that appeared as the truth, I could not. I am either blessed or cursed with an overactive b.s. detector. I sense falsehoods when someone tries to hand one over to me. Though I cannot force anyone to tell me the truth, I prefer truthfulness to deceitfulness.
It did not take me long to discover what really caused Dad’s death. I only had to ask one of my older sisters to tell me the truth. The reality was that my dad had hung himself. It was brutal hearing those words, but I preferred them to Mother’s lie.
Dad’s suicide became our family’s secret, though not be a spoken decree, simply by the nature of the event. His death left all of us feeling wounded, but the secret falsehood, I believe, prolonged everyone’s healing.
Falsehoods keep us isolated and divided from each other. In my family’s case, no one knew who knew the truth and no one knew who believed the lie. We couldn’t approach the topic of suicide with anyone in the family because to do so meant we might reveal something to them that they didn’t know. Who knew what repercussions might result from speaking the truth.
Secondly, lies are awfully uncomfortable. Though Dad’s obvious absence was felt by everyone, at the same time it was ignored. There was an unspoken rule that we not mention the unmentionable and that we all tread lightly over and around our apparent loss so as to not cause a ruckus.
Finally, concealing lies puts the kibosh on relationships. Healthy relationships require honesty, transparency and trustworthiness. When we are hiding lies from someone, we cannot at the same time be genuine with them. Without a doubt, being disingenuous diminishes a relationship.
Why bother telling the truth? Truthfulness may not be the easiest virtue to maintain in our lives, but considering the alternative and its effects, I choose to tell the truth.