- Dexter, "The Big One"
Not so long ago I attended a big family celebration for a relative's seventieth birthday. It was a really good time and I caught up with many extended family members, some of who I hadn't seen in over a decade.
The one question I was asked over and over, and became a hard was, "How are the kids? Are they enjoying school?"
It was hard because saying, "Yeah, all good," was so much easier than the truth. Because the truth takes longer, and the truth is harder to talk about, and the truth opens you up to judgement, clichés, and well meaning but unhelpful advice.
The truth is it is not all good. The truth is my daughter has not been to school this year. She has been crippled by anxiety and depression that hit her out of the blue late last year.
The lie is easier.
The lie is easier than talking about not being able to leave the house.
The lie is easier than talking about taking forty minutes and lots of tears to get a bed made.
The lie is easier than talking about constantly second guessing when you should push, and when you should let things slide.
The lie is easier than talking about the guilt you feel. You've always blamed your own depression on the brutality you endured. But what if it is actually a genetic predisposition you've passed on? What if you don't have that scapegoat any more?
The lie is easier than talking about psychologists.
The lie is easier than talking about smiles one day, and your heart lifts, and all the oxygen being sucked out of the room the next day.
How often is the lie easier? How often do you tell the easier lie? How often do you know you've heard the easier lie?
There's a lot to unpack regarding the easier lie.
The fact that in our culture it is still so hard to talk about mental illness, for one. And recovery can be such a slow, trial and error process. Cancer is more socially acceptable. It would take a special kind of dickhead to say, "I'm sick of your leukaemia, can't you just get over it?"
But the easier lie doesn't have to be about a mental illness. Ever said, "yeah, all good," when asked how your day is on a bad day? Ever tried answering, "Crap, but thanks for asking!"
"But you're talking about total strangers. You're not one of those radical honesty zealots are you?" Okay yeah, you're not going to unload on a shop assistant when they ask you how you are. But are they the only times you tell the easier lie? Never with Grandma? Never with your spouse? Your child? Your best friend?
And no, I'm not a radical honestly zealot. Delivering the appropriate information at the appropriate time is important. But, to bastardise Einstein, it is a good habit to be as honest as possible, but no more so.
The social grease that is the easier lie has been on my mind for a little while now.
What do you think? Should we use it less? Should we use it more?
Or is it, yeah, all good.