Who Is Real?

At first I thought you had two faces. but now I see one face is real and the other is just a lie. Do you believe that lie?

There was a time in my life that if someone told me their aspirations or beliefs, I didn’t look any farther. That was the person, the one they described to me. Now that I’ve had more experience in life, I realize the person screaming obscenities behind the smiling face is the true person.

I believe it was Maya Angelo that said, When someone shows you who they are, believe them. It’s a matter of training, or in my case, retraining my senses. At first it seems awkward. I see the two faces and I hear the voice speak that tells me they are kind and gentle and that I should believe them, and then there’s the punch in the face. Wow, where did that come from? Business leaders will promote new ideas. They’re for progress, the new style of management. Their employees are their greatest asset, they say. The want to allow their employees opportunity to grow. Then slowly, moment by moment, they take your privileges away. You’re called on the carpet for petty things. They look at you suspiciously and monitor your phones. Which to believe? Was it only the flavor of the month?

A spouse says they love you. They want to spend more time with you and can’t stand to be away from you. But they work late most nights and when they’re not working, they hole up in their office reading financial reports or playing video games. Hmmm, something isn’t syncing.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I tend to be a bit naive, trusting, accepting. I’m also a fairly adaptable person so I take on too much. I step up too tall and I stay too long. Which is fine if I’m with my friends. They know me and I know them. I feel free to say Not today or I’m not feeling well. And we all understand each other and allow the other person to bow out gracefully.

My problem isn’t that I didn’t see the actions or even know the person was lying. My problem is that I wanted it to be true. My emotions were involved. I cared. And that’s where my conundrum is. Do I not care anymore? I have no wish to become an ice queen. Caring is human. I have learned to isolate my caring to smaller and more trusted groups. I’ve learned to detach from caring if  I realize I’ve over invested.  With age comes experience and that grows into wisdom.

I no longer believe your lie.


  1. Well done – love the photo too – and the topic always fascinates me.

    I’m with you on the “prepared to believe the best/how do I reconcile the worst” thing. It seems I always stay too long at the fair, and it has cost me much throughout my life. At the same time, I don’t choose to view others with automatic “earn my trust” suspicion – makes for a lousy quality of life, IMHO. I prefer to believe that reasonable people, approached reasonable, will respond in a reasonable manner.

    Yeah, but who gets to decide what is “reasonable?” And how does one respond if one doesn’t agree with their assessment of the situation? What do you let slide, what merits discussion? THEN what? Stay or go? Is it really that clear, even for those of us who like to think we are somewhere in the neighborhood of emotionally healthy?

    Logically, it makes sense for me to endow trust and faith up-front and withdraw to make you earn it back at the first “betrayal” – but emotionally it’s tough to monitor. In my life-long attempt to avoid the pull to black and white thinking, I seem to have developed the habit of making “excuses” in the name of “forgiveness” for actions that don’t fit with what people say they stand for. It’s gotten tougher to locate the edges as I age, not easier.

    If everyone was a client I’d have an easier time of it. There, I’m hired to point out discrepancies between what people say they want, their belief and value systems and what they do (or don’t do) – and there is no “conflict of interest” in that environment.

    In my personal life, I always have an agenda – a preference or a hope or fantasy or something – whether I want to admit it to myself or not. I vote – and that changes everything.

    I’m beginning to wonder if I’m gonna’ get this one figured out in my current lifetime. (Bummer! If the reincarnationists turn out to be right, that means I can look forward to future “lessons” until I finally get it.)
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore, ADDerWorld & ethosconsultancynz – dot com)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    PS. Check out Nov/Dec issue of SciAm MIND: 7 Deadly Sins issue. It explores behavioral duality across a number of platforms, making the case that both are authentic parts of who we are (sort-of a brain-based “situational ethics” reframe)


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