Julie asks "Have you kept a secret or have you lied, directly or by omission, about something big? How did you make your decision---did it bring about justice? How did forgiveness fit in (or not)? Would you do it the same next time?"
Interesting question, of course. I'm not even certain how to answer it because the first thing that came to me is that I can't remember a time before five years ago or so that I wasn't living a lie.
Did I do it on purpose, for manipulation or deception? No. It was survival.
For many years, I held each thought, each belief, each experience to myself. Was that lying about something big? Absolutely. I was lying by omission about who I am... because I didn't have a me to share at that time.
The first 50 years of my life were lived in shame. How could I be such a misfit? How could I be so unworthy? My daily experience reinforced that belief. It took everything I had to believe I had a right to breathe.
Shame breeds secrecy. It wasn't so much a question of lying to protect who I am. The lying was to protect who I was not. I used imitation a lot. Since my own core was empty, I would imitate the people around me, even when I didn't like what I was doing. I knew nothing else.
Years of not knowing who we are, let alone how to live authentically, is something that becomes like the proverbial ball of yarn. The threads wind around and around until the core is barely accessible. I lived a life with alligator-infested moats around my true self, with a big drawbridge that flew shut at the slightest sign that the sandbags might get washed away. Because if they got washed away, the whole castle would crumble. To be exposed brought me to unspeakable terror.
If we're lucky, something happens that unravels it all, sometimes brutally, sometimes gently, but it is what finally lets us out of the prison of lying.
Still, the fact remains that I did harm to others. Each person, including my ex-husband, who got involved with me did not have access to the real me. They had access to the Potemkin image I'd created.
Eventually the Potemkin image was revealed. I groped around in the dark for a very long time to uncover what would become the me I am today.
Most of that occurred, of course, in Thailand. While I write and wax poetic about the place, it is also the place where a lot of my carefully constructed walls were broken down. I shed more tears than I like to admit while I was there but finally finding a place where the buried me felt safe to stop lurking led to a lot of healing.
The lying was the first to go. For me, finding a place to belong saved my soul. There was strength in the feeling that these are my people and this is my place in the world. This is where I am safe to be all that I am. What was born there in that place is what I brought back. The me that people seem to like and respond to in such a positive way was born in Khon Kaen. In that regard, my history has been rewritten.
So.. forgiveness. There's plenty of it to be had and to be given. Hurt is like anything else. It spreads like a virus and ultimately affects everyone it touches. Did my lying hurt people? I'm certain of it. Have they forgiven me? I doubt they even know.
This inevitably leads to the former questions of forgiving fate. In the final analysis, I suspect my life has gone just as it was intended to go, even the hard stuff. I don't feel the need to forgive it. My job is to accept it and grow from it.