This thought came into my head on the way to work today. I was thinking about a friend who had been dishonest with me once in a while, mostly by omission, but was the kind of person who, even when asked a direct question, would often tell you what you wanted to hear, rather than risk that you might not like the truth. I didn't realize this was going on at first, and then, when I would find out about a little lie, for example, I asked him if he smoked, and he said no; who cares, right? I would just ignore it, I guess. He was one of those people who always make you feel confident and strong: a booster when you're making a personal or career move, the kind of guy who would pay the bill at dinner just because it made him feel good to be generous.
Over time as we grew closer, more important things came to light: he'd cheated on his wife (but, he explained, he was really separated from her, even though they were living in the same house when the events occurred). He'd lied on his resume to get his first job. He'd lied to his fiancee about wanting to have children. There was always a good reason. He was a good friend, I thought, helpful and kind. Other friends liked him a lot, too. They of course, didn't know he was dishonest. He seemed very much the opposite, the kind of guy you would trust to be there for you when things went wrong.
I was so busy trying to believe my own excuses for this guy's behavior that when my pain medication started disappearing, I honestly believed it was someone else in our circle. I asked him directly at one point and he denied it.
"Of course I'd ask you first," he said. So I started hiding them around the house when friends came over, counting them religiously, worrying that I myself was taking them when I didn't need them and just not remembering. I even started keeping a tally on the pill bottle. Then one day I caught him with his hands in the drawer where I had hidden them. :"What are you doing?!" I asked him, nothing, he said and left the room. I counted the pills and sure enough, two were missing. I confronted him about it, and we had a bit of an argument. He admitted he was taking them "recreationally." Even though he knows I have herniated disks that cause me a great deal of pain, and knows that my doctor could cut me off if it looks like I'm taking too many.
He's since apologized, and says that was a "wake up call" for him. I don't know if I can get over that experience. It still makes me angry to think of it. At one point I was afraid it was my son, who was a teenager at the time, or one of his friends taking them. Thank God I never asked. Just imagine what that would have done to the trust relationship between my son and me.
Is it worse I wonder, that he let me distrust not just all my other friends, but my son, or is it worse that he made me question and distrust myself?
And all because this so called friend wanted to have a momentary rush of euphoria when no one was looking. I believe people can change for the better, but I'd be crazy to assume he really has.