“Who will save your soul”
It’s the lies that will kill us. I love watching Mad Men. It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s a ridiculous story showing everything that is wrong with society and the world and human nature and all the reasons we are in the mess we are in. All the cheating and the posturing and the ladder climbing and sexual politics and power plays.
And the lying. It’s the lying that breaks my heart. One of the things the writers do well is set up these scenes with people at a loss, not sure how to get themselves out of trouble. And the couples that fight and have all this drama are constantly lying to each other – out right, or by omission – trying to avoid something painful, covering over something they did wrong, not really understanding what the other person wants, or knowing exactly what he or she wants and not being able to do anything about it. And it breaks my heart, but I can’t stop watching it.
Thou shalt not bear false witness. It’s a basic principle really. It crosses cultures. Trust is a foundation to all societies. Without it, nothing gets done. Trust is where it starts and, when broken, where it ends. Trust is the glue of any relationship. It’s like gluing two pieces of paper together and when you lie, it’s like trying to pull the papers apart without ripping them. It’s just not gonna happen.
I think a lot about what it looks like to BE a couple. For some reason, lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how two people act as one, unity of goals, dreams, souls, ambitions, hopes, fears. I’ve been saying “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” lately. And what occurs to me while watching these characters ruining their lives and making horrific decisions is that when you lie to your spouse, you lie to yourself. When you break trust, when you hide, when you bear false witness, when you withhold something, anything, from each other, you are breaking your own soul in two. And what God has joined together…
But I can’t be self-righteous. I have told many lies. I have withheld important information altering the overall story, making me look better or making someone else look worse. I have been untruthful with myself, denying the root causes of choices I’ve made, trying to rationalize every moment I fell on the wrong side of the tracks. I have walked out on love, hope, peace, grace and made excuses based on everything but the truth.
But, thanks be to God, I’ve been given a second chance. From the very beginning, I made a commitment to being truthful – to be unedited, unrehearsed, just honest and forthcoming with whatever is on my mind and heart – and it’s the hardest thing to do at times. I want to run and hide. I want to cover over and change the subject. I want to scream and have a tantrum. I want to turn the conversation into something hurtful and cruel so he’ll change the subject. All these thoughts run through my head.
There are scenes in Mad Men that are so painful. Don Draper walks into the kitchen where his wife and kids are eating dinner and he just came back from sleeping with another woman. He says he was working late. He says he can’t talk about it. He makes fun of his wife’s day filled with chores and kid drama. He has a beer and he never says as much as a thank you to Betty Draper who keeps his dinner warm. How does it get to this scene? Where does this come from?
You take a step back and you know. You know the discontent in the marriage. You watch the characters flounder about trying to make their lives happier, more fulfilling. You see them make epic mistakes, not saying what they should say, saying exactly what they shouldn’t say. You see them walk out on important conversations altogether. And you scream at the TV and you think how lame they are and you say I wouldn’t EVER do that. And you realize, there are a hundred ways I do EXACTLY that. And we LIE. We think consciously or not that we have to lie. To ourselves, to each other. it’s the only way we prevent ourselves from crumbling into a ball onto the floor in a puddle of sorrow and shame and guilt and despair. Because if we really truly face ourselves, the truth will destroy us. We can’t handle the truth.
Truth, though, I know now a hundred times over, is the only way. Truth is the only survival, the only real survival, the only life worth living. I refuse – WE refuse – to have a marriage based on lies and half truths. We won’t hide or sugar coat. And we won’t, by the grace of God, make choices that need to be hidden. But when we do, not if, we will not hide them and we will not withhold the pardon that has been granted to us from each other. We will forgive and embrace and the hide and seek mind games will cease. We will be found.
So, I am committed to not hiding any more. And maybe not watching Mad Men any more. But I definitely wish women dressed like that still. Why are we so averse to curves any more???