Continued from Betrayal (IV)
Vasudha’s reply to Chandini’s last mail was a lot more positive in tone than all her previous mails. She seemed to have realized that a blow might have knocked her to her knees, but to stay there was an act of choice. She had bridged the fine gap between considering ‘on the knees’ as a permanent state of mind and knowing it to be a temporary, intermediate state to ‘standing on my feet’. Silently, Chandni murmured a grateful prayer. She was grateful that God has chosen her as his instrument to bring perspective and solace to Vasudha. She got down to writing another mail. There was just a couple of points more she wanted to underline for Vasudha.
My Dear Vasudha,
In your last mail, you’ve expressed your anger with yourself for deliberately misleading yourself… for trying to hang on when everything showed you that there was nothing to hang on to. You criticize yourself for the weakness of not facing the truth. It is true that in the long run, consolation born out of such a lie will not serve you. Yet, I wouldn’t criticize anyone who took refuge in it, for it serves a purpose too.
The first time you found out that he was not all he professed to be, you would have been shocked. You would have found it very difficult to credit such duplicity to him. It would have been easier to say, “Oh I am sure there is an explanation for all this. Let me not go off half- cooked.”
You see, with hindsight anyone could be wise. But knowing what you did then, naturally you were cautious. Moreover, by doing that, you gave yourself time. You couldn’t have forced yourself to believe something which was unbelievable to you. You were not ready to accept that the unacceptable was the truth. You needed that the time for the unbelievable to sink in. You mind created that space by telling you that lie. I see nothing wrong with it at all. Please don’t blame yourself for the time it took you to realize the trueness of that particular truth.
However, it also a good idea to take steps- at your own pace- to clarify matters. To let things slide indefinitely is not a recipe for happiness either. I too let things slide on for too long. I mistakenly thought that if I pretend that the elephant isn’t in the room, he wont be. When I could no longer ignore the elephant’s presence, I convinced myself that the elephant would get up and walk off by himself… or someone would pick it up and throw it out. All those comforting stratagems drew a blank. The elephant sat immovably where he was, making a mess of my room.
Once you’ve accepted that there IS an elephant in the room, your must get into the next phase… which is to ask questions until you get some answers. It took me time to learn that when silence is the answer to your questions, that silence too is an answer.
Do you remember when you and I had just ‘met’ each other and had begun to chat? Remember how annoyed you got one day at my endless questions? I liked a few things about you but I needed to know a lot more before I could open up with you. I queried you about the same things in many different ways. Actually, that was the reason you got annoyed, because you saw what I was doing, remember? You saw I was fencing around the same basic issues, coming at them from different angles. I can tell you today why I did it. If you were lying, somewhere you would have contradicted yourself. Then I would’ve been wary. But I caught you in no contradictions. The process is not fool-proof but it is reasonably effective.
A very close friend taught me to ask questions- the right questions, in the right way. He knew me to be the kind who gave up when my questions are avoided. He showed me how this made it easy for people to cheat me. He taught me to keep asking questions until I got an answer that sounded probable/ plausible to me. He also told me to trust my instincts in evaluating the truth of an answer. If it didn’t ‘seem’ right to me, it wasn’t. Period.
Now when I see someone trying to avoid answering me, or throwing a counter- tantrum to throw me off track, I get even more determined to get an answer. I have also learned to ask simple, direct questions with no trace of ambiguity. The contradictions and mismatches… the deliberate misleading… if they are there… will surface. It is amazing how effective this is.
Asking direct questions has two advantages when you are dealing with a probable liar. Instead of asking someone if they went to sleep early, I found it better to ask them if they were up until late chatting with XYZ (which is what I wanted to know in the first place). This lays out the issue coldly in black and white leaving no room for an escape clause. The liar knows that my question is not prompted by my concern for his lack of sleep… it is prompted by my suspicion that he is two- timing me. Of course, the liar may still lie and say he went to bed at early because his net connection was down. The more embroidered and needlessly embellished the response, the more likely it is that something isn’t quite right.
The second advantage is, even if he lied to me, he will know I know what he is up to so he’d better stop… or get better at covering his tracks. If I were a liar, this would surely make me very jumpy… which is when I would make a mistake. Bingo..!
While asking a direct question is effective, for me there are two reasons that stand in the way of my using them as frequently as I ought to. One: I try to avoid a possible confrontation. I don’t know about you, but raised voices and aggressive retaliations aren’t really my scene. I have never been able to handle people shouting at me. It either makes me lose it entirely (which is bad), or I shut down completely (which is worse). Two: I am scared to face the truth which will emerge from the questioning… specially if I have an emotional investment in the person concerned.
It takes immense courage to question someone very close to you.
I have to keep reminding myself that a relationship cannot survive in the long term if it has been made precarious by too many shifting lies in the foundation where there should have been rocks. I remind myself that the elephant wont get up and go away by himself, nor will someone else bother to throw it out. The only thing I will accomplish by avoiding the unpleasantness today is to give it more time to fester so it comes undone in a much more virulent form when it finally does, later. It is the thought of a much bigger pain later that finally pushes me to ‘bite the bullet’.
These things have helped me a lot. I am not afraid to be open. I trust people- with prudence. I have learned to check people out and to put up the walls where needed. I am no longer afraid of meeting new people and forging new friendships- and that makes me feel good. After all, our need to connect with other people is as basic a need as that of food and shelter. If I hadn’t learned how to meet new people with ease, I would have missed out on you and all my other online friends. I surely would never have learnt all this if it hadn’t been for the sleaze-ball. In that sense, I guess he served his purpose.
I know you are beginning to find your feet again. I know you have realized that the entire unpleasant business wasn’t your fault.
The last thing I need you to do is to forgive Aditya. Don’t invest in him further by staying angry with him. You need to cut yourself loose from him. If at all, pity him. It must be such a punishment for him to be tied to himself… living half a life while a part of his soul rots in captivity. It is not only you he has betrayed, he has betrayed his soul. He will bear the consequences of that betrayal. It isn’t your job to be his judge and jury. Let God do His job.
Your job is to live every moment as if it were your last.
I’ll write to you again later. Meanwhile, write to me whenever you like. I’ll be here.
I want to say just one last thing. You’ll be all right. You’ll come out of it. I KNOW it. Borrow my belief for a few days… until yours comes up back on its feet.
Take care of yourself precious.
Picture from the internet.