Many years ago, I remember a friend commenting about someone we both knew, who had got themselves into a lot of trouble through a series of lies.
“The first lie is the hardest.” He said. “If you get away with the first, the rest just flow naturally.”
Those remarks have stuck in my mind ever since. And it is as true now as it was then.
And it came to mind recently in relation to someone I know. The person concerned, who I will call Amanda, has gone down this path – and the further she has travelled, the more fluently things just roll off her tongue. And I am wondering at what point it will trip her up.
Amanda has been having an affair. As it currently stands, I know of only two other people who are aware of it. We worked it out, following a sequence of events, because we were being told different stories. We all thoroughly disapprove of the situation, but do not feel we know her well enough to interfere. And what’s more, there are kids involved.
I don’t see very much of Amanda. One of her children is friends with mine and they ‘hang out’ together. Because of this, we have, over the years, met up on occasion to ‘catch up’ with each other’s news. However, some time ago, at the point I had just discovered the affair, she called me a number of times, to arrange for us to go out in the evening.
Amanda is as aware as any of my friends, that I have certain days in the week when I’m free to go out, without needing a babysitter. So you can imagine how unimpressed I was when Amanda rang me at 6pm one Wednesday to cancel, because she had a ‘headache’. That may sound very unkind of me… but I knew she was lying. It was confirmed when she seemed to forget what she’d called me about and finished the call by asking whether I had anything fun planned for that evening!
We re-arranged the evening and again she called to cancel. Only this time, she called me earlier in the day to ask whether I fancied joining some of her friends, including the person she was having an affair with. I did not want to be party to her behaviour, so I said I’d rather stick to our original plan and have a girly ‘catch-up’ nearer home. A few hours later (around 6pm!) she texted to tell me she felt sick and needed to stay at home.
I am not a confrontational person and I didn’t want to upset the relationship between our two children, so I resolved that I would never again agree to see her, unless there was a group of other friends coming too. That way it wouldn’t matter if she cancelled. And she did cancel. Twice more!
By this stage, I felt it was well beyond a joke. So I decided not to arrange to see her even with other friends. It was just too irritating – especially as I suspected that she was telling her husband she was seeing me to cover her tracks.
Finally, my son was invited to her house to play one day. When I went to collect him, I was invited in for a cup of tea. Her husband was not there, but a couple of her friends were. These were people I had never met. And for reasons best known to Amanda, she started asking me questions about my marriage.
“So, did you have affairs when you were married?” She demanded.
“No. I didn’t.” I replied. Somewhat taken aback by her line of questioning.
“Oh, come off it! You MUST have done.” She insisted.
Again, I told her that I hadn’t. Only, by this stage I was very upset. She had embarrassed me in front of people I didn’t know and accused me of something she had no reason to suspect – whilst being in the middle of an affair herself.
But still, I was not prepared to spill the beans. (To this day, I don’t think she is aware that I know of her affair.) And I drove away in tears of rage.
I cannot describe the feeling of frustration I felt because I was not prepared to be rude or ‘out’ her – but had to tolerate her effectively laughing in my face. Thinking that she is cleverer than those around her, who she believes have been hoodwinked by her lies.
Of course there’s a bit of me that wants to tell her, in no uncertain terms, that she is not half as smart as she thinks she is. But I am held back because of my knowledge of the chaos caused by divorce – and possibly the hope that she and her husband will rectify their issues. In addition, nothing I say is going to change her behaviour, it will just make her avoid me and stop our children from seeing each other.
Obviously, I will not be arranging any social activity with Amanda in the future. She crossed the line and there’s no going back. And if there is one thing I hate above all others… it’s being lied to.
I hope that no one reading this post will have got themselves into this situation. But if (god forbid) you have, consider this: you may not be half as clever as you think you are – it may just be that people are too polite to tell you to your face. But when things blow up (and life has a funny way of doing that) you may have no one left to stand in your corner.