Wednesday, 20 May 2015

I Lie Sometimes

I lie to myself. Self-deception is a skill I honed to a fine art during the three decades of my marriage. After all, you can't tell yourself everything is fine unless you can blind yourself to your realities. It seems odd that I am so good at deceiving myself yet have perpetually failed so miserably at deceiving others. It seems I am the only one I can lie to... almost. I lie every time someone asks me how I am doing. I say "Fine"; then again, that's all they want to hear.

It's funny, the things you take away from life. Road trips are a great example. The Great Elevator Escape has taught me a lot about myself, a lot about how I handle relationships, a lot about how I deal with adversity, and an awful lot about how I lie to myself, and in turn to others around me.

This skill probably arose from road tripping in the past. My ex-wife was tough to deal with around money. When we would go on a road trip, she would demand a detailed budget before she would set one foot outside the front door. I would have to set daily amounts for food, hotel, gas, extras; that's the origin of my infamous spreadsheet. She wanted it all as a certainty before she would consent.

Once I presented the budget to her, she would pick it apart, attacking my assumptions and demanding that we do it for less. This compulsion of hers once lead us to stay at a smoke filled, flea bitten, drug hotel in Portland, OR, simply because she had a coupon for 50% off. She didn't realize that hotels use a monstrous rack rate just so they CAN offer 50% off. The hotel could have been a set for a horror movie, or a National Lampoon vacation movie, one or the other. We stayed because she insisted, never realizing what she had put us into.

So I started to lie on the budget, believing that I could do it, make it work. This most commonly fell into the areas of food and hotels. I suppose I really started a lot of those road fights by telling her we could get a hotel for one price when I knew it would be a higher price. On the other hand, if I had told her the real cost, we would never have had any of the adventures we had as a family. Every vacation would have been at home, saving the money. For what, I never knew.

On this trip, I did the first budget with Katherine and she said "sure" immediately. I didn't trust it. I waited for the first three weeks for the other shoe to drop, for her to say something critical about my budget. She did, but never in an unkind or critical way. She observed that I had budgeted too low for hotels, but never said we had to stay in an uncomfortable flea bag because that was the number in the budget. At the end she said, "You were pretty close. Just the hotels. It's not bad."

For this segment of my trip, and for the first time I can remember, I did a road trip budget with real numbers for hotels and food. Not that it matters. A budget is a guideline, not a prison. It is a way of planning, not an iron bar on spending. I've known this for a long time; I was just never able to convince my ex-wife of it. So I lied. It feels a lot better to not have to bother with that pretense any more.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a child of 10 or so, my voice teacher gave me a song to learn. It was from "The King and I" and it went like this:
    Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect,
    And whistle a happy tune, and no one will suspect I'm afraid.
    While shivering in my shoes, I strike a careless pose, and whistle a happy tune and no one even knows I'm afraid"....
    This was the theme of kids growing up in the 50s and 60s.
    Then when I started to go to Al Anon in the 90s the slogan I hated the worst was" Fake it till you make it!"
    Story of my life!! But not anyy more!!