In hindsight, it’s all so clear.
Unfortunately, we can’t preorder hindsight.
Looking back now, some of my ex’s false stories are absurd. One of my favorite has to do the phone line. Apparently, we were beginning to receive calls from creditors since he had decided that funding a second life was more important than paying the bills. And it wouldn’t do to have me inadvertently pick up one of these calls and learn the truth about our finances.
So he cut the phone line.
But it didn’t end there. Because of course, he couldn’t admit that he disconnected the service (which by the way, also meant the alarm system didn’t work while I was home alone when he was traveling), so he feigned surprise that the phone no longer worked. We went to radio Shack, where he bought a device that is used to diagnose issues in phone lines ($25) and pretended to try to find the problem for the remainder of that afternoon. Now that’s commitment.
My gut said something was off about the entire situation. After all, I had never had a phone line just suddenly stop working. And my ex never followed through with contacting the phone company, which seemed like a logical next step. His reaction was a combination of an initial flurry of action and then…well, nothing.
But I didn’t listen to my gut. I listened to him.
So why do we believe their lies?
The Truth is Too Scary to Face
If I saw the truth about the phone line, it would mean that I would have to face the reality that everything I thought I knew was a lie. It would mean that my husband was not my protector, that instead he had become my tormentor. That every ounce of security that I thought I had (financial, emotional, etc.) had evaporated and nothing could be trusted.
It was like a domino effect; if I saw through one lie, they all would tumble and reveal the hellish truth behind their facade. And I wasn’t ready to see that.
We believe the lies because we so desperately need them to be true. Because reality is too scary to comprehend.
We Don’t Want to Admit We Were Wrong About Them
I thought my ex husband was a good man. A generous man. An honest man. And to admit otherwise meant that I would also have to cop to my own shortcomings in selecting him and then for keeping him on a pedestal.
We believe the lies because we want to think that we made a good choice. Sometimes it’s hard to admit a mistake.
It’s Hard to Admit That We’ve Been Fooled
By the time my spidey-sense was trying to get my attention to tell me something was wrong, he had been lying undetected for years. So to see one lie in the present meant that I had to admit to not seeing all of those in the past. It was easier to simply stay in the dark and pretend that everything was okay.
We believe the lies because it’s embarrassing, shameful even, to reveal that we have been fooled. We want to think that we’re smarter than that.
We Want to Believe the Best About Them
In many of my ex’s stories, he painted himself as the victim of some unfortunate circumstance. He was the underdog, just trying to do the right thing in a world that seemed to be stacked against him. And since I loved him, I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe IN him.
We believe the lies because we take the side of the one we love and it’s easier to see them as the victim than the perpetrator.
We’ve Learned to Doubt Ourselves
Like many cheaters and addicts, my ex used gaslighting to keep me confused. He would outright deny something that I remembered happening and he would create documents that conflicted with the real ones that I had already seen. All of this uncertainty meant that I always questioned my own perceptions, often even more than I did his excuses.
We believe the lies because we have been conditioned to no longer believe ourselves.
And that’s exactly where healing begins – in learning to trust our own perceptions and instincts again and in believing that we ARE strong enough to handle the truth no matter what it holds.