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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Credit: All pictures are Mari Rey originals.