Truth is Relative
Until it’s replaced by lies
Oh, to be five years old again, trusting the world, loving without conditions!
I’m still writing my next memoir friends. One chapter coming up is titled “Honesty.”
When I met my husband, he said I was the most scary, honest, person he had ever met. I told him my favorite song was ”Honesty,” by Billy Joel. That if he ever lied to me, it would break my heart. This is why, even though we split up after 30 years of marriage, he is still my best family. I cannot have relationships without honesty.
Meet me at the place of honor
Where the past is not a dirty word
Where truth we welcome
And lies we shun
With nothing between us,
We can be one.
-Cherilyn Christen Clough
Much of my childhood, I heard lies and told lies. I was forced to tell lies to say I was homeschooled. To tell the bill collectors my parents weren’t home.
Even as I moved into my adult life, I found myself trapped at times by the lies of the past. Sometimes I was traipsing through so many lies that my feet got stuck and I wasn’t sure where to turn. It felt like my entire childhood was built on one large web of lies—like we were held together by a giant spider web and if I pulled away too much we would all come crashing down. My instincts were right—that eventually did happen.
One of the hardest things for me was to let go of was my religious upbringing. I was taught to believe that we had the truth and other Christians didn’t.
In the picture above we were visiting my aunt and her family on my fifth birthday. Her husband didn’t go to church. When he came home that day, I was encouraged to ask him why he was working on the Sabbath. Look at my little face in that picture. Do I look like I care what my uncle did all day? I just wanted to open my frickin’ presents!
Child proselytizing happens at a young age when your parents are super sevens!*
It took me three more decades to begin realize how much was programmed into my mind to do and be what others wanted. As I matured, I rejected preaching to other people or even trying to change them.
This is just one example of being a truth seeker. And the point of this e-letter is not to convert anyone to my way of thinking. You have your own brains, reason it out for yourselves.
In a world where lies reigned, my religious beliefs were the one thing I felt that was stable in my life. Except even there, I came to discover more and more lies. For instance, it really shocked me to read that Jesus said “I am the TRUTH.”
What?!!! I thought the Sabbath was the truth. Or the Ten Commandments. It was mind altering to think of the implications of switching out thinking of the Sabbath as the truth and imagine Jesus as the truth. Now, years later, I can say Jesus has so much more to offer me than any day of the week.
What is the cost of telling the truth? Most of us who have suffered through narcissistic abuse know the path.
You tell the truth.
Someone wants to shut you up.
They threaten you if you won’t be quiet.
If you continue to tell the truth, you will find yourself attacked and shunned by many people, because those who wish to shut us up want the numbers on their side so they gossip and trash us behind our backs.
I think probably if more people realized the consequences of telling the truth sometimes they wouldn’t, but as an adult, I have made that choice to tell the truth, and I bear full responsibility and carry no regrets. Truth is also freedom.
One benefit to telling the truth is that sooner or later, you will lose the liars in the dust and gain new and honest friends.
I can say there is not one member of my immediate family that has not lied about me at some point. Some did it just to agree with others. It would be easy to take these lies personally—except when a family has been built on a web of lies, it’s the exception to tell the truth, so I give them slack. I leave room for reconciliation because I love them, but I won’t dine at the table with lies.
I’ve discovered my family tree includes other truth tellers. People who could not abide with lying or living with lies—even at church. People who have been shunned for not agreeing to the family party line or worshipping at false altars. This warms my heart. It has given me strength for my journey to write on!
In case you too, have been lied about and are afraid to tell your truth, I offer you the best advice I’ve ever read from a favorite writer—
What if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written, or you didn't go swimming in those warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.
You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart . . . your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it's why you were born.
- Anne Lamott
Are you a truth teller?
Has it been hard?
Was it in the family events category, or in religious beliefs?
How have you coped?
*”Super seven” a term for legalistic, fringe dwelling, Adventists who follow the letter of the law.
Little Red Survivor Tips is always free. It’s just my thoughts about surviving at the intersection of family, narcissistic and religious abuse, and current events.
I also wrote a book Chasing Eden, about my strange childhood.
If you’d like to discuss writing memoirs, reading them, or would like a sneak peek at my next book, To Uneat an Elephant, you can subscribe below.
Thank you for your light. Your encouragement to cling to truth, fight for the right to live in truth, got me through the darkness. People have laughed at me, called me an unrealistic idealist and of course told me to just shut up and play the role but life is too short for that, no matter the consequences. For me too, this applied to relationships and beliefs. Truth and honesty are the path. No going back to anything else.
So we’ll written and insightful, as usual, Cheri!