I’ve been spending a lot of time lately, thinking about deceit in relationships. If you’ve read my previous post, you know why.
Lying was a significant part of my parent’s marriage. My mom was really big on hiding things from my dad. From childhood through my teens, I can remember occasions where I would come home from school and mom would call me from work. “Hey hon, can you do me a favor? Bring in the mail and see if there’s a letter from WhateverCorp. If there is, put it in the top desk drawer and I’ll take care of it. I don’t want your father getting upset.” I can’t even remember where the letters might have been from. I assume it was a past due bill or a credit card charge she wanted to hide or some such. I didn’t ask, she never volunteered.
Which was also a pattern of my family; unasked and unanswered questions. For instance, my dad’s father was just never talked about. I had three grandparents, everyone else had four, and I never asked why. I have a hard time explaining why I never asked. It’s not like I agonized over whether to ask about it or not. It just didn’t seem like an option. It was like some elephant in the corner of the room that no one ever talked about. That’s just how my family was. (And let’s not even talk about the child mom put up for adoption before I was born, that I never found out about until I was 30.)
I never thought lying or hiding was an issue in my relationship with my ex. Until we were splitting up and I discovered the smoldering shambles that was our shared finances. By the time she moved out, I found myself with no car, no assets, and $40K of credit card debt. And support payments, naturally. I slept on the floor for months, because I didn’t even have a bed to sleep in. It took me years to dig out from under that debt. And it left me with anxieties and distrust around money that I struggle with to this day.
There’s a quote that is allegedly from Nietzsche, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” (For what it’s worth, that’s not really what Fred said. His real quote was, “Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe you has shaken me.” from Beyond Good and Evil. *)
And that’s where I’m stuck right now. I can’t help but think, “This time, when you tell me you’ll never lie to me or hide things from me again, why should I believe you? What makes this time different from the last time? (Or the time before that?)” I haven’t heard an answer to that yet.