Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Truth Be Told...

A dear friend came to me recently with a problem.  Someone she loved - someone she trusted implicitly - had lied to her.  Not a white lie, mind you.  Not a "keep a secret so she'll be surprised" kind of lie.  This was a doozy.  The issue isn't whether she can forgive and forget.  It's: should she?  When we are faced with a reality that is so far apart than what we believed, is it possible to trust again?  And not just that specific person, but anyone for that matter?

I think sometimes it's healthy to hold a grudge.  I think we need to hold on to a bit of the anger, so that we don't make that same mistake again.  How do we get past the lie?  And if we forgive, do we ever really forget?

On the other hand, doesn't everyone deserve a second chance?  How do we know if the person truly just made a terrible error in judgement...or if we misjudged their character?

This is the advice I gave to my dear friend:  First of all, take time.  Time to be angry.  And sad.  Time to realize that the way one person treats you does not define you.  And then, and only then, when you're feeling stronger, you can begin to forgive.  But, forget?  I don't think so.  Better to remember.  Let it strengthen your resolve.  And remind you never to go against your own morals and values.

And if the person apologizes, profusely, and truly seems sincere, then go ahead and accept the apology.  And explain that you're working on forgiveness.  But don't forget.  And remember this: Actions speak louder than words.  If the words belie the actions, then it's time to move on.

Got any of your own advice to share?


  1. I love the Dixie Chicks'song "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice." The lyrics speak volumes about forgetting and forgiving.

    I agree with you. Forgiving is one thing. Forgetting is something else. Some people apologize over and over, thinking that will make it all right, while they continue to committ wrongdoings. It doesn't make everything alright.

    Accepting what your friend CAN change (her trust in this person, and how they "heal") is crucial.
    Your advice was good. It is necessary for them to take time and go through what is similar to the phases of grieving. Part of their friendship "died" and they need to mourn.

  2. I love that song, too. And I agree...words can be hollow. I make mistakes, too (geez, probably more than my fair share), but I always try not to apologize until I truly mean it. Otherwise, it's just words. Although, being on the apologizing end isn't easy either. Live and learn, right?

  3. Wow, you gave me something to really think about, but then I realized I did have someone lie to me and not just a little white lie either (and I'm not including xhusbands :-). I did let it go, however, I'm guarded with this person. I continue to have hope, but they have to prove themselves before I'll ever let my guard down.

  4. Wow--it was kind of karmic for me to read this since I've dealt with just this question for longer than I'd like to admit. Somewhere I read what helped me the most. That forgiveness doesn't mean giving the person another chance to do it all over again, but merely finding a place within yourself where the transgression ceases to hurt you. It the person expects to be trusted again, they would have to work pretty darned hard to earn that trust--and do it under the other person's terms rather than their own. I still wonder how one handles unrepentant liars who just lie more to cover it up. Let me know if you have ideas on that one.

  5. Every time I have been asked for advice about a problem, I have always told the person to "give it time". There's nothing like a long walk (or something else relaxing) to clear the mind. If the person is truly a friend you want to keep, forgiving will come. Forgetting is another story. I don't think we should forget, because that's how we learn life lessons. Not to keep it hanging over someone's head, rather, to keep it in the back of our minds as we move on. You can learn a lot about friends and who /what's important in times like that.

  6. Good sound advice. Forgiving is easy, forgetting, not so much. My mother was a master at grudge holding. She would take them out from time to time and relive events,and embellish said events while nurturing that grudge. She took them all to her grave. Whenever I am tempted to pet my grudges, I think of her and just let them go.

  7. Thanks ladies. Mom - I guess I know where I got that advice ; )
    Kathy - welcome! We can learn just as much about what NOT to do but watching others, can't we? I have never been one to hold a grudge. Sometimes I think I'm a pushover b/c I forgive so easily. And I don't mean to say that we should never forgot a wrongdoing, just to make sure we learn from it. That's something good that can come from any negative situation.
    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  8. "And remind you never to go against your own morals and values."

    What a forgotten trait in people today. I, for one, do try to live by this statement in my personal and professional life. However, there are people that surround me that seem to have lost their morals or maybe they never had any. It is interesting though how they are the same people that talk about the high morals they have, how they would never cheat, lie, make fun of others, etc., but they do daily. It's a shield they hide behind although every one sees it. It's very sad and disturbing at the same time.

    1. Anonymous,
      Your comment reminds me of a great quote by Margaret Thatcher..."Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." We're all human, and we all make mistakes. Temporarily lose our way, make a poor decision, etc. But to remind people daily about how you would never (insert wrongdoing here), doesn't make it any better. Just like talking about all your money, doesn't make you any richer. I guess the best we can do is look in the mirror any time we feel the need to judge. Thanks for reading my blog!