I don’t get liars, never have. What’s the point? The truth always comes out in the end, no matter how hard you try to cover it up. Truth is afraid of the dark. It doesn’t like to be hidden under a brown paper bag, and it always finds a way to escape.
Back when I was in basic training in the Air Force, our TI’s (short for training instructor, that’s what we called them in the Air Force, as opposed to a drill sergeant in the Army) put us through long, excruciating exercises in paying attention and following instructions. One day, we spent several hours putting our laundry marks in every item of military clothing we’d been issued.
Each of us had an individual laundry mark, a specific combination of the first letter of our last name and a couple of digits from our social security numbers. Our TI’s gave us specific instructions for the placement of our laundry marks in each and every item of clothing. We sat at our bunks with our rulers and our marking crayons and measured the distances from zippers and buttons to where our laundry mark was supposed to be, cringing every time one of our fellow airmen was screamed at for putting a mark on the wrong side of a pair of dress pants or skirt.
I’m pretty good at following directions, and most of my laundry marks were perfect except one skirt. I think my heart displaced my uterus when I realized I had put my mark on the left side of one of my skirts, as opposed to the right (or maybe it was the opposite, it was a long time ago.) Anyway, I had messed up, and I knew it. I glanced around at the TI’s pacing up and down the aisles and was relieved that none of them had noticed my mistake. I folded my skirt carefully and added it to the growing pile next to me, confident that I had escaped a raking, at least for the time being.
Imagine my dismay when the TI’s later lined us up in front of our lockers to inspect our laundry marks.
I stood at attention in front of my locker and held my breathe while I listened to the Tech Sergeant make his way down our row. He would reach a hand into an airman‘s locker to select an article of clothing at random, and somehow, he would magically pull out that one piece of clothing the airman had messed up on.
The little pieces of metal the TI wore on the bottoms of his boots to intimidate us clinked against the floor with each step, growing louder as he slowly worked his way toward me.
Finally, it was my turn.
“Airman Webster!” He barked at me. “Knowing you, I know I can count on every laundry mark in your locker to be perfect, can’t I?”
I froze. Of course he couldn’t count on my laundry marks being perfect. They weren’t. And knowing his knack for picking out the one imperfect piece from every locker, I knew I was going to get it if I tried to say they were. So, I did the only thing I could do. I owned up to the truth.
“Actually, sir,” I told him, still standing at attention. “I did mess up the mark on one of my skirts.”
You could hear the proverbial pin drop in the bay as my fellow airmen collectively stopped breathing. But then the Tech Sergeant just shook his head and laughed.
“You know, Webster,” he told me. “I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.” He closed my locker without removing a single article of clothing and moved on down the line.
I finally remembered to breathe again.
I try to always tell the truth, no matter how bad it is. But, I was once in a long-term relationship with a compulsive liar who couldn’t tell you the truth if you asked him if it was raining outside. For some reason, I never felt guilty about lying to the liar. He didn’t care about the truth, he just wanted me to tell him what he wanted to hear so he wouldn’t have to hit me. Well, that was about 50% of the time. The other 50%, I think he wanted me to tell him something he didn’t want to hear so he would have an excuse to hit me. It was up to me to decipher which kind of day it was and act accordingly.
I kept quiet about my situation for a long time, even going out of my way to hide it. I didn’t want anyone to know the ugly truth. But it never went away. Things only got worse as time went on. The thing about the truth is, the longer you try to hide it under a brown paper bag, the uglier it gets.
So today, I am open about the fact that I’m a domestic violence survivor. I feel compelled to shine a light on the truth. If I can help save even one person from living through the hell that was my life for those 10 years, it’s worth the pain that often comes along with exposing the truth. Whatever it is you’re hiding, spit it out. You’ll feel a lot better about yourself, and you’ll be able to move forward with your life in a way you never could while you were lying.