After the Apology

If you have ever been lied to then you understand the pain and disappointment one feels when they uncover that a loved one has manipulated the truth to hide a betrayal. The truth can shatter relationships, or in other circumstances reveal truths that should have never been distorted. On both ends of the scale, trust is broken and often one is unable to get past the initial act of dishonesty.


In past relationships, I have had the unfortunate luck of uncovering lies that my partner(s) had told me to protect their deception. Although their lies hurt me, it also revealed their true colors and intentions. In some circumstances, I was able to overlook their lie because it was not harmful to me. They lied about something they were ashamed about and had been led to believe it was something they needed to lie about. In other instances, like the ones that occurred in my last relationship, it became difficult to get past the lies because they were harmful to my well-being. Those acts were unforgiveable, but I decided to stay because I have a tough time letting go and wanted to see the good in my ex.

I cannot put all the blame on him. I did choose to stay and was unable to cope and get past his lies. I say that not to make excuses for him, but to be realistic about the situation. What I learned in that relationship was that when someone shows you who they are, believe them. There is nothing that I could have done to prevent him from lying to me. I remember blaming myself for his lies, but it had nothing to do with me. He chose to manipulate and hide things from me to protect himself. He had little to no regard for how his act of lying was going to hurt me or how toxic our relationship would become, which if you have ever experienced this, you know that there is nothing that can be done to undo the hurt. Some things are irreparable.


There were times that he would tell me, “I lied to protect you.” That statement only made me angry because he was using it to excuse his unruly behavior. Lying is an intentional act. It is not done to protect anyone but the person committing the betrayal and is often done by people who want to assert control over situations. This false sense of control is typically done to manipulate and twist the narrative to protect their interests.


After my marriage imploded, I decided that I would seek out my own truth and discover why I engaged in relationships that were unhealthy and why I remained in toxic relationships. In part, I grew up in an unstable environment where my alcoholic parent behaved erratic and caused distrust in me. If you cannot trust a parent, it makes it difficult for you to trust anyone else. The reason I stayed was because that same parent changed. They stopped drinking and evolved into a loving, trusting, and safe person to be around. In turn, I stayed in unhealthy relationships because if my parent could change, so could my partner. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone.

As my therapist once put it, my dad is one of a kind. Not everyone has the self-discipline he has or the desire to keep their family intact. He committed to a new lifestyle, and the expectation that everyone can exhibit that growth is unrealistic. Can people change? Yes. The probability of the guys I chose to date, unlikely. Especially when there was no dedication, on their part, to better themselves and get to the root of why they lie.


After peeling the layers and crying a lot, I too committed to living a healthier lifestyle. That looks different for everyone, but what that meant for me was engaging in healthy relationships with everyone. I had to stop hurting myself by enabling relationships that caused more hurt than good. That is a lot of work.


I constantly evaluate my relationships and look for warning signs. Am I still participating in unhealthy habits, or am I practicing boundaries and using my voice to let others know they have hurt me or did something that made me uncomfortable? Being an adult child of an alcoholic (ACoA) and understanding how I was programmed has helped me significantly. If you were raised in a home where addiction was prevalent, then you know that you were silenced. You learned to enable the addict’s behavior by not speaking up when they hurt you. If you were brave and spoke up, you suffered the consequences. We learned how to avoid suffering – survive our environment – and continued to cope throughout our lives by allowing the bully to win to avoid their torment.


It is the fear of this torment that makes us lash out and go into fight mode. We can lose our shit and scare people with our rage. Until we learn how to cope differently, we will damage our relationships and ourselves along the way. If you are an ACoA, you live with a lot of distrust, frustration, and isolation. This is a recipe for disaster if we do not seek treatment, which I know is angering because we are left with the responsibility of parenting ourselves again to lead healthy lives. It is a cycle that we understand is never-ending.


This new lifestyle requires me to be present. There is no room to become unconscious. I choose to actively speak out when I am wronged because to remain silent is to make allowances for people. You teach people how to treat you. If you remain silent, it can have a snowball effect and can lead to practicing old habits that have proven to be of little service to me.


I am currently learning how to repair relationships with family members who have been dishonest. I have worked backwards when determining what types of lies would be deal breakers and cause me to cut individuals out. Those lies would have to involve cheating, murder, rape – unforgiveable acts. Of course, there might be some curveballs that I am not accounting for now, but hopefully I will be able to navigate around those unknown variables when they present themselves.

How do you rebuild a relationship with someone who has proven to be dishonest? This is something I beat myself up over because my focus should be how do I not fall back into practicing old habits? How do I stop making allowances for the liar? It is a fine line between enabling and establishing rules of engagement.

I do not believe in cutting family members out of my life unless they have caused irreparable harm. I come from a place that everything is worth working through with family so long as it does not go against my morality. However, I will not make allowances for family. To convince me to start rebuilding relationships with them, I need to hear them take accountability and see growth. I will not be accepting half-hearted changes.


Before the liar is allowed back into my world, I will need to establish healthy boundaries and enforce them. My boundaries will be based on what I need to feel safe around that person. This will vary depending on the severity of the lie. My goal is to be around individuals who are actively working on themselves. I believe that many of us accept a lot of bullshit in our lives out of fear of loneliness, but like my mother says, “I would rather be alone than keep bad company.”


I am currently practicing establishing boundaries with someone who wants to be part of my inner circle. They have taken over a year to confess they have lied and have not been remorseful. The lack of remorse is uncomfortable because they are acting like they do not understand why I have limited my interaction with them or have shown restrain when sharing my life with them. Worse, they have lashed out by attacking my character and speaking badly about me to people I know. Their actions only affirm why boundaries are necessary.


An apology is not only saying the words, but also being active in showing understanding that your action(s) have hurt someone. I think people have grown comfortable with deceiving and having little to no consequences. I believe the only way we can truly heal is to face the music. It is uncomfortable when we are confronted with how we have negatively impacted our closest friends and family but being able to have honest conversations and listening is not only humbling but can contribute to your growth. The act of apologizing is taking accountability and bettering yourself to maintain healthy relationships.


The task of holding people accountable is not an easy feat, but we owe it to ourselves to have people in our lives who respect us. We should not have to maintain relationships with people that make us feel unsafe.

I only have one life to live, and I want to be surrounded by people who genuinely love and respect me. I want to experience life by having genuine relationships and being authentic. 

Photo Credit: All pictures are Mari Rey originals.