Friday, April 11, 2008

Not Seeing the Big Circle Around Us

Yesterday my boys went to their first practice for the track team. My oldest ran up a steep hill three times with ease. The younger one kept smiling and running with enthusiasm. I was proud of their dedication.

At the end the coach called the team together. There must be more than 80 kids from 1st grade through middle school. He asked them to form a big circle and face in one direction. At first I didn’t notice my two boys in the middle with their backs to me. I was chatting and joking with a fellow parent. We both noticed them at the same time. As I don’t sugarcoat anything about my kids, I blurted out, “Oh my gosh, look at my kids!” We laughed. I tried to decide if I should go across the field and into the giant circle and make them stand like everyone else. They were listening to the coach. If I went out there, I would draw attention to them and create a scene.

How can you not notice when everyone else is doing something? As kids we’ve all stood in a circle for games. You feel the energy surrounding you. Everyone is looking at you. How could you possibly not notice?

When we came home I asked them about it. At first it was crowded so they stayed toward the front and everyone else must have moved. That was it.

Have you ever noticed other people oblivious to a situation?

I was tempted to give examples like someone eating while everyone else at the table waits to be served or someone talking on a cell phone in a quiet room, but this is not rudeness. It’s something else.

When my father was dying, the complications from his diabetes worsened over a couple of years. As I describe the situation, you know he is close to death. He was blind. His kidneys had failed and dialysis wasn’t working. Gigantic calcium deposits the size of baseballs were all over his body. He was missing parts of his fingers and toes to gangrene. Doctors came in to examine him because they had never seen someone so far along. Each of these conditions was a small battle. They developed over years and he survived each one. He would get through.

His sister is squeamish and came to the hospital. I changed his socks as a matter of course. She ran out of the room. Down at the end of the hall she cried and told me I had to know he was dying. I didn’t know, not really. There had been so many hospital visits and he was only 50 and I just kept taking care of him. It took someone to tell me directly before I saw it.

The bar moves slightly and you adjust. This continues to happen and you don’t realize how much things have changed. My boys made an adjustment to where they were standing and never realized the true situation. We all just keep plowing forward in life. It’s easy to say we should take stock of our situations and notice if things are different, but there’s no guarantee we will. That’s why we need other people to understand and help us join the circle.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lying for Your Spouse

Yesterday I realized a friend lied to me a year ago. Back then I didn’t know that her marriage was dysfunctional. I believed her. I believed this lie for a full year even after learning how she lies to everyone to survive her narcissistic husband and cover up the terrible distress of her family. She left me in the lurch that day because I had been depending on her. It was a bit of a disaster.

Up until this point I have been understanding, but I became angry. The anger spread to a couple of other friends who had lied to me in the last few months.

In one case the husband and wife told me two completely different stories. One was elaborate with many details and the other was a simple denial of the situation. I’d always believed the long-winded story but my ten-year-old son declared that the story is probably the lie. After spending a night thinking about it, he may be right. I now realize that the friend was trying to tell me something else with that story. Who knows? I just know one of them lied.

The other case was a simple lie, an excuse. I found out because someone I know was excitedly telling me about an event. The details did not fit with what my friend had told me. I must have had disbelief on my face so this person continued to add details to confirm the date, time, and people. Truthfully, I didn’t want to know. During the conversation, I just wanted to believe that my friend had not lied. When pounded with the facts, I couldn’t deny it. Although there could be reasons, it was still a lie to me.

In all three cases the lie involved the friends’ spouses. Can I ever believe anything someone tells me regarding their spouse? Seriously, I’m in doubt.

As a Philosophy major I had to read a book about lying. One of the basic premises of survival is that people will lie to protect self and kin. Remembering this tenet does not help me gain faith in my friends, but rather confirms a sad reality.

Currently I am rereading Rockville Pike by Susan Coll. In this story the main character, Jane Kramer, starts lying to everyone. Her marriage is in dire straits and she finds herself covering for it with more and more lies. She contemplates the person she has become.

In all of the cases where my friends have lied to me, I believe there are problems with the marriages. Some hide it much better than others. My husband doesn’t agree, so maybe I’m just trying to find a way to at least trust some friends. If I can deem a marriage strong with good communication, maybe I can trust those friends. I’m grasping at straws.

We all want our lives to appear perfect. The public image of a happy family that interacts with the community and is willing to meet people and be friendly is paramount to a little white lie.

Now that my guard is up, I’m fearful that I will scrutinize everything that people say to me. Since you really can’t function this way in life, I will have to believe people. However, I doubt I will invest any emotional energy into what people say to me. The only thing to do is go forward in good faith, but protect yourself.