I know as a person and therapist that Truth with a capital T is often a very subjective target. Your truth about an experience doesn’t have to be anywhere near my version of the truth of that same thing. You may LOVE Taylor Swift as a musician, and me? Well, I’m more Bruce. We went to the same concert perhaps, but did we have the same experience? No.
But when it comes to arriving at some shared version of what is or has happened in your family or marriage, or where you went on a vacation, or what your child said to both of you when she arrived after curfew last weekend, we should be able to agree on a mutual version of facts. We won’t get the details quite straight, but we should be in the same county. Even the same neighborhood. When we can and do, we can begin to talk about what is painful, or good, or what is not working or what you may want to talk about changing.
What sets us all up for failure, however, is when one person in the conversation is lying. Omitting facts or key feelings, covering up important details, scamming the rest of us in the group. I have to tell you, I’m a pretty good judge of people, most of the time. But I get slammed rather regularly by clients who have been lying to their spouse or to their family and friends for so long they are great deceivers. We will go session after session, even month after month, and I will notice that we aren’t getting much traction for emotional or behavior change. I will hear reports from one side of funny feelings or vague worries they have, and I keep working to be optimistic and focused.
And then the phone call, or the teary confession. “I’ve been having an affair.” “I want out.” “I can’t do this anymore.” Hits me up the side of the head every time.
If you are going to spend the money and time and energy to do therapy, please know that I will begin by trusting you to tell me the truth. Maybe not the Whole Truth, and Nothing But, but some version of truth that helps me know what we are all talking about. If you want some help uncovering that secret in the rest of your life, you will need to start by trusting me to hear it. Please don’t lie to me. I can’t help you when you do.