Sunday, March 7, 2010

The official version

For the past 16 months at least there has been an ongoing lie in my family.  One brother asked another for money, (or his wife did), and asked him to say nothing (to our father).  That brother told me, and asked me to say nothing.  I've kept quiet for 16 months.  Over time the feeling that something was very wrong grew inside, as did a strong sense that my silence was amounting to complicity, and protecting people who were behaving unethically.

Yeah, it was me.  And I broke silence last week and told my father everything.  When the brother who'd told me what was going on asked I felt compelled to be honest with him too. So he knows I've talked with my father.

To review.  One brother swore another to secrecy, and believed he was keeping everyone in the dark.  That brother told me and swore me to secrecy, with the first brother being in the dark--he didn't know that I know.  I broke silence and now my father knows.  He doesn't know that I told my brother that swore me to secrecy that he knows.  So now, everyone knows, but the first brother, and his wife, who ironically are now in the dark.

Without revealing that he knew what he knows, my father says he talked to each of my brothers.  He said one brother told him his version of reality (that is, that he stopped accepting money from his brother when my parents stepped in to help them with their monthly expenses) and the other one confirmed it.

If my parents helped them all of last year, and my brother helped them all of last year, in what universe did the one brother stop accepting money from the other when our parents "stepped in to help?"

My father wrote to me:    "I have no choice but to believe that neither Kevin nor Dan would tell me a direct lie when I asked a direct question.  So I have accepted their word..."

I responded:  You're aware that what Kevin and Dan told you directly contradicts what I told you.   And, it directly contradicts what Dan has been telling me for 16 months.  I don't know how you can reconcile that.   

My father hasn't called me a liar.  Yet what's true is he is indicating that he is legitimizing their word as what he will consider real, which must exclude mine.  The firmness of his tone says he wants no more discussion on this matter.

I wrote:   I know you don't want to believe it, and maybe you can find a way to believe them and not think that I am a liar, because that's the way this squares...I stand by what I said, because it's the truth

His next message was about something else and did not address what I said.

I asked the lending brother how it could be true that he'd helped them in the last quarter of 2008, and all of 2009, and my parents had helped them in 2009--how could it then be true that he'd stopped giving them money when my parents started?

He has not answered me.

I'm just beginning to comprehend the implications of this.  There is an official version.  And my father has firmly "said" that he doesn't want to be backed into a corner with the Truth.  We will act as if one brother gave the other money, for a little while, but stopped when the parents stepped in.  The truth has no place in the official version...and where does that leave me?  Hint:  the wind blows cold, and the underside of the bus is greasy.

This is what I've been thinking about for days now.  I haven't talked with them because I'm not sure how to.  And that's what I'm trying to come to grips with.

What seems clear is that in my family a lie has more legitimacy than the truth, if it supports an image of the family.  If Truth undermines the accepted version, well, then it is to be discarded.

In other news, tomorrow I go to talk to someone about a job.  It's more of an informational interview--I'll be interviewing them as much as they me.  I want to talk to a number of places and get a feel for which setting will be the best.  I'm eager to get moving on the divorce process, so we can tell our sons and larger families and finally stop holding this secret.  I'm thoroughly tired of secrets.


Ailey said...

Oh Ex-

I read your post and want to let you know that I'm feeling for you and thinking that this must feel pretty awful. I'd like to say that truth will triumph eventually but it seems as if the truth may just be too much for too many of the parties involved. Other things I want to say would be too unkind to people for whom I know you still care. I guess I'll leave it with the hope that one day more members of your family are able to do some growing into the truth.

Hugs and Love and Blessings on You dear one.

Kristin said...

The injustice of being wrongly called a liar, either directly or indirectly, is terribly painful. For me, it would be unbearable coming from a parent. I’m so sorry, Excavator. I am thinking of you today and hoping your interview is mutually positive, so you can move on with your life.

Lavender Luz said...

Seems like you have the uncomfortable job as the Truth Teller in your family. Kind of like Cassandra, but without the ability to see the future. Just the curse of not being believed.

I wish your dad had been able to say, "I believe you. But unless K or D tell me otherwise, I am unable to intervene."

It really sucks, Ex. I'm sorry.

Sheri said...

It sounds like a tough situation all around.

I'm especially frustrated by you not being believed. It seems wrong!

I love all of you and am hoping for a quick and pain-free resolution.

excavator said...

I emailed replies to most of you, but felt a need to respond to a couple things here.

Lori, you have no idea how helpful invoking the story of Cassandra has been. Considering the notion of belief has opened up an unexpected doorway to some new insights. Also, I wonder if, in his unskilled way my father was trying to convey exactly what you wrote? Maybe it's something I was supposed to have taken as 'understood' (nod, nod, wink, wink). I honestly don't know.

So I may be believed (?), but it's sort of stuck into an obscure category of belief that I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.

Thanks again for everyone's kindness.

Mercurious said...

What a tangled web we weave.

I'll bet you wish you never said anything at all at this point. My family has been eerily similar to yours, which is why I view them as a kind of soap opera that I watch but don't participate in.

By the way, the quote you asked about was Shakespeare, Hamlet.

And as regards "archetypal, symbolic living" means, really, that in most every life event I see parallels to the stories of myth and legend. Going into a board of directors meeting at work feels a lot like descending into some underworld maze, where I'm likely to do battle with minotaurs or Gorgons with snake hair.

I exaggerate, but only slightly. In everyday life events, there are always the same themes as in classic Greek mythology or Grimm's fairy tales.

excavator said...

Hi Mercurious! Nice to see you over here. Thanks for coming by to answer the questions I left on your blog.

I like what you say about living archetypally. Yes, we deal with the situations on their face, but there's some satisfaction to be drawn in considering it a metaphor. I believe this situation of lies, and truth, in my family to be such an archetypal situation, and a vehicle for changing my place in that pattern.

What's interesting is how the Pattern continues to assert itself--kind of sealing off the space that I now refuse to hold, absorbing that change and remaining intact.