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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word

The Danger of Truth — (May 1999) I find it somewhat funny. In fact, I also find it somewhat sad. We're taught growing up that we should always tell the truth. "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive" is an early rule also learned. But lying comes so naturally to so many of us that you get to a point in life where you have to consciously force yourself to keep telling the truth. It may not be a 24/7 thing, of course, as we generally tend to be open and honest with the people we care about and call friends. But, on a general basis, how many white lies do you give out in the course of a day?

"Yes, your product sounds fascinating and may be just what we're looking for. Send me more info!" And we know we'll never look at it.

"No, I didn't really get a chance to read your email. I saw it come in, scanned it briefly, and decided to go back to it when I had more time" And we know we're avoiding the issues.

It's natural to lie. Why? Self-preservation, of course. It's learned at such an early age. "Did Grandma give you candy?" will usually be answered with "No." because otherwise, the child knows they won't be allowed to stay with Grandma very often. "Did anyone help you with your homework?" is sometimes answered by "No." because no student wants their grade affected. Little White Lies grow to be Big Black Lies with time. Oh what a tangled web...

But what about me? I can't lie any more. I've broken down. I feel like a shell some days but in all days, in all ways, if someone asks me a question, I have to tell the truth. It's become almost inconceivable for me to lie. I may be shamed by my replies, but I tell the truth, even while my inner self argues with myself over the fact that sometimes the truth will do no good. But I can't help myself. What's that drug they use in the movies to force people to tell the truth? Sodium Penathol or something like that? I get the feeling that my body mass-produces it. And the worst thing about it is how I feel myself being taken advantage of at times. I've literally had my mother yell at me to "smarten up" and learn to protect myself better. But I'm shattered. As a friend of mine once said about herself, "I'm under repairs".

I have reached a point in my life where I can't lie to save myself. And, as amazing as it seems, I don't think it's a good thing. Some days I wish I could go "back" to the time when I could lie with impunity to those I didn't care about. The time when I could divert the questions asked. But, I know that "skill", if you will, is lying dormant right now. I'm trying to live a life of brutal honesty right now. And as many people have found out in their lives, honesty really is brutal.

So, what do I do when faced with a question I don't want to answer? Not speaking up about something is just as good as telling the truth. Or rather, acknowledging the fact that I don't want to speak about it. "Yes, it's true, I'm feeling blue. But I really do not want to talk about it right now. I just need to sort it out in my head first." That can hurt a person just as surely as the truth. Yes, if a friend is a friend, they will grant you the time you need to "pull yourself together again", but it can sting. After all, a friend is supposed to "be there". If you shut them out, does it not sting them? A little.

So what's the solution? How do I prevent myself from being abused? Stay locked in my room forever? Refuse to speak to anyone? Become a hermit?? Running away is never a solution. But the pain of telling someone the truth about anything, and then having your truth used against you, can certainly drive a person into their shells. Humankind's capacity to feel infinite pain is just pathetic. Why can't there be a threshold? Reach a certain limit of pain and POOF, you go into hibernation or something. Instead, we step back, recover, and head forward, just to go through a different kind of pain. And the wheel goes around and around. Until, after too many years, we shatter.

I agree with my mom and my friends. I do need to learn to protect myself again. I also agree with myself that lying is not the answer. But, giving the truth out freely isn't right either. It's sometimes suicidal (emotionally). So what can I do? Well, until I'm fully healed, there is really only one recourse for me: avoid confrontations; concentrate on work at work and my family at home; keep conversations light with those who can hurt me; confide in my journals and my closest friends to help me through the rough patches; and trust that God has a plan and that the pain will fade away and I'll be a better person for going through it.

As the Doobie Brothers put it, "...minute by minute by minute by minute by minute... I keep holding on.."

And, as Guiseppe put it, "...whatsamatta, you? why you looka so sad? it'sa not so bad. it's a nice-a place. ah-shaddap a-you-face"

Thank you, my friends, for allowing me this forum in which to attempt to rebuild myself.

(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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