Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dancing with Smoke

Have you ever had to deal with a liar before? Someone who lies continually? About nothing?

I listened to one and the thing is, I knew he was lying. From previous experience, I know that there is absolutely no sense in trying to broach the issue with him. It just causes outraged tears and denials, and one little detail will be added to the story already told, and the detail is supposed to present the thing in a whole new light, and all the lies are supposed to become truth, doesn''s just the same sad bullshit with another detail.

So I listened as he went on and on, telling his story, weaving in little details. I tried to listen and tell myself, "What does it matter?" because really, the story was inconsequential, as most of his stories are. But he talked on, and waited for our responses. "Awwwwwww!!!!" we were supposed to say. We were supposed to giggle at the right places. We were supposed to be charmed and think he was witty and cute. But he was telling a lie, and the longer he talked, the more difficult it was to listen.

What do you do? If you say anything, it will cause a huge emotional outburst, and like I said, one little detail will be added and he will look at you defying you to tell him that the story has not become completely true and believable. It's like dancing with smoke, the way the story shapechanges and grows, filling every corner of the room until you cannot breathe and your eyes begin to burn.

I hate it.


Jayne said...

The whole thing with liars is that they know they've won when they've got you engaged in a debate/argument about their story; doesn't matter if they know you know it's BS, they've won cos they've pushed your buttons and got you going.
Easier to give them a smirk and a nod and walk away, leaving them without audience or person to engage with.

WhiteStone said...

Oh, yeah,I dealt with one of those liars for 22 years. Just call me stupid and kick me in the butt. lol

However, once I turned (and I turned on a dime) there was never again any lie that could control things in his favor.

Mrs. Spit said...

I'm not clear. I come from a family of maritimers. So, when story telling starts, the details are embroidered. You know they are embroidered. The story teller knows you know. The story is the thing, if that makes sense.

There is a family story about one of my uncles safely guiding in a Rockefeller Plane in Gander, NFLD. That much is fact (he was an air traffic controller, there was a storm, etc). The rest of the story? Oh, it's totally outrageous. It's a family story none the less, and the next generation still bugs Uncle Lloyd to tell the story.

I know that Uncle John doesn't have a scar across his chest because he saved a puppy from a train, stopped an out of control car in Toronto, or went up against a mafia don. Do the small kids in the family? Well, probably no more than I did at their age. The story is still the thing.

I struggle. A good story teller totally embellishes the truth. It's the essence of the story. They embellish and make the story bigger and better. You know that they are doing it (which is partly why it should be totally outrageous). Details get shortened or left out.

I'm not sure that this is what's happening. I can see it is distressing you, and I'm sorry. I'm just not so sure I totally want truth in story telling. I don't think Uncle John and the Bad Guys, Uncle Gary against the moose, Uncle Lloyd saves the world would be as magical on a summer evening when you are 8, sitting around allowed to stay up late, if truth in storytelling was required.

BUSH BABE said...

Frustrating when history and emotions are tangled into the mix, and the lies are simply to make the storyteller feel impressed with themselves. I think there is a big difference between the art of embellishing a story (where the listeners are invited 'in' to the inflation of the yarn) and the act of boasting and boosting an ego, seeing how far it can go in the guise of truth...

We have a great tv show here called 'Enough Rope' - a clever interviewer asks prompting questions and waits for the guest to fill in the blanks... sometimes they 'hang themselves', sometimes they don't...

Take a deep breath Deb. Wait. He'll fall. Or hang himself. (Or maybe discover a sense of humour... you can hope!)

quid said...

The whole concept of pathological lying is not really a syndrome. Instead, pathological lying is one of the common symptoms of OCD.

Pencil Writer said...

I know someone who lies and tangles his "facts" or his version of the "facts". His goal is to self engrandize (sp?) and to paint others as inferior, or greatly inferior, etc., etc. It is always to support himself, his perspective because to him, everything he desires is more important than the truth or what is best for anyone other than himself. This includes a long list of employers, teachers, fellow employees, his children, former wife, her family members, binal details-----but he's mentally ill. And, I'm almost to the point that I doubt he even knows what is actually the truth any more. His goal is to always look good. He is very intelligent, but somehow misses the boat with reality, honesty, integrity. It is a sad situation to witness.

As for good old fashioned "story telling" when most everyone is enjoying a good story--that's a different world all together.

And, adding to "quid's" comment: habitual lying seems to also stem from either/or/and huge ego and lack of self-worth. In my limited and very unprofessional experience it seems tied to being raised without any or very miminal application of consequences for unacceptable behavior during an individual's formative years.

jeanie said...

It has obviously upset you Deb - I am so sorry for that.

But heck, it got a great analogy going - there is a silver lining?