Why the scary truth is your best bet for emotional safety
I've been hearing alot these days in my practice about lies. From seemingly small "it won't hurt anyone" fibs to large-scale whoppers, my clients' lives are being shaken - and sometimes levelled - by lies and deceit.
I understand it on an intellectual level: a lie is a margin, a step away from the edge. Or, a lie can be a disguise, a mask, a perceived protection from pain and anxiety. But, as I tell my clients, a lie always makes it worse - no matter what "it" is. There are few hard and fast rules in life, and I'm sure there are exceptions to this one (e.g., "Yes, Aunt Millie, that Thankgiving turkey was juicy and not at all dry and tasteless", or "Do these pants make me look fat?" etc.) but overall, this one sticks. It's one to post on your mental fridge: A LIE ALWAYS MAKES IT WORSE.
Why is this so hard to get? Because the truth can be scary; or worse, our partner's reaction to the truth can be scary. We don't want to hurt them, burden them, blah blah blah. But a lie always hurts more, because in addition to whatever painful truth we are hiding, now there is also the extra layer of the deception. And the deception is, in and of itself, a betrayal, regardless of the original truth.
A lie says, "I don't trust you enough with the real me - you're not strong enough, not caring enough, not (insert adjective here) enough to get it." A lie tells your partner that they don't deserve the truth, and puts them on the lonely outside of your emotional boundary. In contrast, however painful a discussion ensues as a result of telling the truth, in doing so you have closed the emotional fence with you and your partner inside together, instead of outside apart. You may be angry with each other, disappointed in each other, hurt by each other - but at least you are together. And together, you stand a much better chance of surmounting whatever the issue is than you do apart and disconnected.
So bite the bullet. Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but do it with care. Preface it by saying something like, "This is painful (awkward, uncomfortable, scary, etc.) to say, but I'd rather say it and have you know than not say it and keep it from you, or have it come between us." After all, it's the truth, isn't it?