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When fear takes hold

July 16, 2007

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good at dealing with fear. 

I’m fine with the obvious kind – you know, the times when you look down to the ground from a great height and all you can feel are your legs trembling uncontrollably – I know what I need to do in order to overcome that. Just move away from the edge and take a few deep breaths and you’ll be fine.

There’s another kind of fear which, for me, at least is far more debilitating.

It happened today. The problem raised its ugly head without a moments notice. No-one else saw it. Everyone, in fact, seemed almost bemused when I spoke of it with them. But I know I saw it.

It happened in a split second. I overheard someone at the queue for coffee this morning mention something which was a blatant lie. I knew it as soon as they said it. Sure, I didn’t have any evidence for it and if I was to stand up in a court of law and denounce him I wouldn’t, as the saying goes, have a leg to stand on. But I know it was a lie. I could feel it.

The lie felt like a soft pillow. Soft, comforting but ultimately dangerous. That’s what was in my mind when I heard him say it. “You’re saying like you’re being cool and laid back,” I thought to myself, “You’re saying it like it was fact. But how can it be fact. I know what I heard you say before and I know it was nothing like you said just now.” I didn’t say it, obviously. I just thought it. But in that split second of thinking it, something inside me began to change.

When I witness these moments I’m like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I look around in desperate search of a trusting face. Someone who will look and speak in a reassuring way. For the lie to be dismissed and the person lying to be disarmed takes a very special person with whom I have a very special relationship to tap me on the shoulder and point out that, “everything will be OK .. we’re all on to him, don’t you worry.”

I’m happy to say that this situation doesn’t occur so much as it used to, but when it does it’s like a thunderbolt. Time suddenly stands still. Indistinct faces laugh at my integrity, jumping out at me from unexpected places. I stand seemingly powerless to do anything, in awe of the power a liar has in undermining my very foundations.

They are the most destructive of individuals. I only wish they’d destroy themselves first before they attempt to lay claim on others around them.

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