I've been a liar and I've been lied to.
In first grade I told the world I was adopted. It didn't matter how many times they pointed out that I'm a carbon copy of my mother, I insisted, "I'm adopted".
Why do we tell lies: big fat whoppers, little whipsy white ones, wild strings and yarns? Maybe to protect ourselves or support our fantasies (yeah, cause I'm adopted)? Maybe out of fear? or even habit? or to get an exchange at Walmart (dang, this waffle iron was broken when I opened the box).
But, to the spouse of an addict filtering through their lies is like...well, lets just call it what it is. It's like wading through sloppy shit. And it hurts. Big time. A lot of times, it's the deal breaker.
Is he telling the truth?
"That condom in my wallet? Oh, it's not mine.It must have fallen into my pocket when I was walking through the store"
Is he lying?
"I've never looked at porn on my phone! Someone at work must have stolen my phone and used it."
How are we supposed to know?
"I'm running to Walgreen's real quick, you need anything?"
So, these are some of the things I did to became a human lie detector
1. Snap out of it
No more rose colored glasses. No more Happy Wives Club. No more naively believing. I had to get real and see Mr. Scabs for what he was; a lying, thieving, murderer of love (Dan in Real Life)! He was the fabricator. If there was one thing I knew, I knew he would lie to me. It's a hard to accept reality, after all, I couldn't imagine being so shifty in my most intimate relationship. But it was the truth and the more clearly I could see it the better prepared I was to face him.
Let's put on our lab coats ladies, it's time to observe him with the attention of a scientist. What changes do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? There are so many advantages to detaching and here, detaching will allow you to see more clearly. It is a gift!
Suddenly, I could hear it in his voice, see it in his eyes and in his body language. But it wasn't always like that, at first I doubted my senses.
I had just a shred of evidence, like a link or a cleared out web history browser or he's late from work or even worse he smells like a girl. Maybe I'd ran across a receipt or a secret credit card bill or a stash of hidden condoms or he was angry and short tempered. Are the little things or big things not adding up? I watched everything.
3. Keep quiet and write
Maybe you say something like, "hey, why's the web browser cleared?"
Do you get a barrage of reasons why it's your fault and you're to blame? Do they blow you off, explain it away or get angry? So, keep it to yourself and file it away. Journal these observations, these red flags. Record the details. Maybe it's vague or doesn't make sense, but soon it will. Mull over these patterns, shreds of evidence and seemingly unimportant bits. Believe in yourself because soon you will see the truth. Clarity.
A lot of people like lists, if you need to write a list, do it.
short tempered angry
found large amount of cash in his truck
found craigslist history search for women
smelled like unfamiliar girly lotion
came home from work late and angry
blaming me for lack of sex
always turns off the laptop when i walk in the room
eyes look weird blank
barking at the kids
hasn't gone to therapy in weeks
It's pretty clear now, isn't it?
When it's time to confront the fabricator do it with absolute confidence. This takes practice and may be severely uncomfortable at first, but dang girl, why shouldn't you be confident about the red flags you see? Review your list! It's like watching a horror film and when the babysitter answers the phone and hears, "have you checked the children?" Why does she hang up and go on with her math homework as if it's nothing at all!!!?? Red Flag, call 911! Same deal ladies, red flags are there for a reason. Trust yourself because they can be easily explained away. That is the biggest lie of all, and it's often the one we tell ourselves.
5. Practice and then have the conversation
Prepare yourself physically. Maintain eye contact. Stand or sit up strait. Open your posture, don't fold your arms or furrow your brow. Maybe raise your eyebrows a bit, nod your head instead of shaking it. Cast off any kind of sad, depressed or unsure looks. Tell yourself you are strong and capable. Review your list. Practice in the mirror. I know it's weird but it helps. You know you're being lied to and you're ready for the truth
I talk to myself all the time. I play imaginary conversations over and over in my head. I play out different scenarios and directions. I tell myself what I think and how I feel, that way when I'm confronted in real life, I'm prepared.
Here's an example conversation
Me: Hey, let's talk. I know you have something you need to tell me. And it's time for you to be honest. (this is my favorite phrase. You can always go back to it. It's simple and direct. I used this all the time. It was my fall back. If I didn't know what to say, I said this.)
Mr. Scabs: like what?
Me: Nod your head, use your open encouraging body language and facial expressions. I know that you've made some mistakes lately with your addiction and I'm ready for you to tell me about them.
Then be silent. Watch their body language, their eyes, listen to their voice or even their breathing. Are you getting the usual? Excuses, blaming, denial, anger or blank looks like he doesn't know what your talking about. Or the ultimate, does he storm out of the house flabbergasted that you'd say such a thing!! Beware, these are not the actions of a penitent man. This is a confirmation that he is hiding something. It is a boost to your confidence. Your red flags really were RED.
Let him do this, all the time watching. Take a quick check of yourself physically, are you making eye contact, are you remaining positive? Are you hunched over or sitting up straight? Are you frowning or have knowing confident look on your face. Then, calmly continue.
Me: Come on, let's really talk about this. I know you still have something you need to take ownership for and be honest about. And, now is the time for you to tell me.
Mr. Scabs: What? What do I need to be honest about?
Me: Its not my job to tell you what it is. Its your job to be transparent. If there's any chance of working this out you'll need to trust me enough to tell the truth.
Mr. Scabs: I can't believe you are accusing me!
Me: This isn't an accusation. But, I do know there's something you need to tell me. So please, let's talk about this. I'm ready.
And then be silent and listen again.
If after a few attempts you're still getting the "I don't know what your talking about" or other excuse, I'd change my tactic.
Me: Mr Scabs, look, I know that you are struggling, It's clear. I also know you've made some mistakes you need to come clean about. So, why don't you take some time to think about it and I'll come talk to you again tonight after dinner.
Smile, nod yes and maybe even gently touch his arm, then walk away!!! Come back with the same conversation when he's had time to think and settle.
If he starts to open up and be honest. Listen and take mental notes. Don't act surprised by any new information. Take it all in. And then tell him how you feel.
Me: I feel so hurt that you're keeping secrets from me. I want to create safety and trust between us again but I'm not sure you're interested. I'm sad you choose to keep secrets again. What are we going to do?
On the other hand, if you get nothing from this conversation. It you are being stonewalled or yelled at or manipulated walk away. These are the epitome of reasons to detach. Try the conversation later, after he's calmed down or maybe with a therapist. If there's physical abuse or violence get away! If the conversation ever leads somewhere dangerous walk away. You must have an escape plan. Take your kids to the park, the mall, your sisters house or go to a movie, pack your bags and drive to North Carolina.
If he in anyway wants to rid himself from the hell he's created he will hopefully tell even the tiniest sliver of truth and when he does build on it.
Mr. Scabs: Well, I went to the casino a few weeks ago and i was going to tell you about the money I made and I was going to account for it.
Me: Right, I know. (even if you don't know, say you know. Maintain your open posture and eye contact). How did it feel to go to the casino and not tell me? What do you think that does to our relationship?
Don't ask details. Leave it up to him to tell the story and the details. Try not to get angry and when he divulges more information always act like you already knew the details, whether you did or not. Nod your head and say, "yes, I know."
As a side-note, he may ask how you know. Don't say how you are figuring this out. Don't tell him what you suspect or have found. Don't let on that you've installed Stealth Genie on his tablet or phone. Recently, in light of Edward Snowden, I told Mr. Scabs about Stealth Genie. After a bit of conversation, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't blame you."
I'd usually end the conversation explaining what I was going to do in light of his lies. Detach. Go to yoga. Take some alone to to figure this out. Pack your bags and drive to North Carolina. Whatever. Then walk away. Maybe there will even be some bonding between you. The truth does funny things!
I believe this is one way you can let them hit bottom. Let go. Don't get involved in their recovery actions or accountability. Just walk away and take care of yourself. Do what you need to do, talk to whomever you need to talk to.
All of this is a skill. It takes time to learn. Mistakes are ok. The biggest feedback I get is this: What if it's really nothing? What if i'm just being paranoid? Read your red flag list again. You're not making this up. And honestly, if you're wrong, you'll know it.
An honest man sounds completely different than a lying man.