“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” –C.S. Lewis
This is Chapter Ten of a true story. All of the names except the author’s have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, depending on your perspective.
One of Adam’s good qualities was that he was always on time, even a few minutes early. I wondered if he would try to wiggle out of going to Meditation Mount but there he was, right at 2pm.
We drove toward the east end, past the orange groves on Reeves Road, to the very top of the steep hill where Meditation Mount sits. You cannot help but be transported to a higher plane the moment you step onto that sacred land, surrounded by chaparral, sage, wildflowers, with majestic views of the mountains and Ojai Valley below.
There were cars in the parking lot and I could see people seated in the auditorium, but all was peaceful and quiet outside.
The profound stillness that pervaded the whole atmosphere of Meditation Mount helped to center me.
We walked quietly past the Tibetan-style buildings, past The Terrace, down the winding dirt path, through the wooden “Portal of Peace,” structure and into the Garden of Peace.
We picked out a stone bench, a fairly private spot, and sat down together.
I took Adam’s hand.
We were two human beings, two ordinary mortals, two souls wrestling with our transient problems on the earthly plane.
I felt a wave of love and compassion for him. I smiled my most illuminated yogini smile.
“Adam,” I said, half joking to add a little levity to the situation, “You are a child of God.”
“A delinquent child of God,” he joked back.
He looked like a child that knows in his heart of hearts that lying is wrong but still hopes he can get away with it.
It was our first time together at Meditation Mount. Smart move on my part, I thought, to suggest we come here to talk. The peaceful atmosphere was conducive to seeing our personal problems from a more cosmic perspective.
I sat cross-legged on the stone bench and suggested we be quiet for a few moments.
I closed my eyes. This was as good a moment as any to commune with the divine.
The devil must have told Adam what was coming. When I opened my eyes he launched nonstop into the story of how he discovered, as a child, that people like it better when you lie.
He said he learned to lie as child, “ to make life easer.”
Adam is a great story teller. He described in colorful detail how he frequently forgot to shut the garden gate of the various gardens on his family’s ranch. And how he would get into big trouble when the goats and other animals ate all the flowers and vegetables.
Each time he left the gate unlocked his parents would yell for him and ask if he left the gate open.
Each time, after he confessed, his father would whip him.
He said he was only about six or seven years old at the time.
The image of this little boy getting a beating made me very sad.
No matter how often he got a beating, (“and it hurt,” he added) a few weeks or months later he would again be in a hurry, slam the gate shut and not check if it was really locked.
The way he tells it, this went on for a long time.
Then one day his cousins visited. After they left Adam again forgot to shut the gate and the animals got into the garden.
This time when his parents called him and yelled at him–you guessed it–he blamed his cousins.
Evidently they believed his lie and he did not get a whipping. His parents called the cousins parents and they got the full blame.
As Adam described the beautiful themed gardens that were his parents pride and joy, I could see what his game was — distracting me… delaying me…stalling.
He knew what was coming, but he was not about to own up.
When I wrote all this down in my journal I put in big print: HE IS VERY CLEVER!
Maybe he hoped if he talked long enough I’d forget about the whole house situation.
When he finally finished I gave him one more chance to come clean.
I asked him if there was anything more I needed to know about the things we started talking about on Sunday.
I gave him plenty of time and space to tell the truth.
But he just shrugged —nothing more.
Then I said that I was “in a quandary.”
That sounded more diplomatic than outright calling him a liar.
I said, “I want to believe that Diane and her mom are living at your house because you want to help them… ”
I waited for him to say something.
And then I said that my student Liz had read me an email from Diane that said that “Adam was staying at her house because of his finances…”
Only then did he admit (as if it was no big deal) that it was her house.
We talked for about two hours.
As I questioned him, I naturally heard myself say, several times, “How can I ever trust you?”
At one point, when we got to the part where he described how he could pack everything he owned into his car in fifteen minutes, I started laughing as I saw the utter ludicrousness and irony of the whole situation.
I saw Adam as like a little child, lying to his mother.
He was not at all the wealthy happy homemaker man I imagined. He didn’t even own any pots and pans!
Then Adam started talking about how when he almost died that the doctor’s hands touched and saved his physical heart.
Then he said he felt like I was touching his emotional heart. His spiritual heart.
“It’s like you are peeling the layers of an onion. It’s like you are opening me up.”
Just like the heart surgeon.
And then, somewhere in all this talk about the heart, Adam said that he feels like he took my heart in his hands, just like the doctors held his heart, only instead of saving my heart he squashed it, opening and closing his fist as he said this.
I can still see the whole scene in my mind’ eye.
And now comes the richest part.
Near the end of our talk I told Adam that I needed to determine if he had a history of lying or if this was an isolated incident.
I said I needed to know if this whole story he cooked up about the house and Diane was just a one-time lie.
He looked me in the eye and said again that he was afraid I would think less of him if I knew he lived with someone. That is why he lied – so that I would go out with him.
He assured me that other than this, he was an honest person.
I wanted to believe him.
Ever one to look for a silver lining, when it dawned on me that Adam was not the wealthy catch I thought he was, I told myself, “Well, now I don’t have to worry that Adam thinks I’m after his money or that I only like him for his house and beautiful garden.”
After our talk at Meditation Mount, on the way back to my humble abode, I though that Adam and I were now in the same boat. The poor but happy, “Live Simply so that Others May Simply Live,“ low-carbon, low-impact, green sustainable boat.
That night we went to a long meeting together. My feelings ran from hot to cold. After he left I felt more conflicted than ever.
Late that night I emailed Ann,
We went to Meditation Mount to talk.
My mind can see this situation so many different ways it scares me.
At the Mount he readily admitted that he was living in Diane’s house. He takes care of the garden. She takes care of the house. At least that’s my impression.
For several hours I felt our relationship was over.
Ann wrote back:
Wow . . . The first thought that comes to my mind is that this (whatever is happening between you two) is a very important and healing encounter.
I wrote back:
Ann, I think your assessment is correct.
It is an important and healing encounter.
But at this point the emotions I feel are so extreme –from wanting to dump him (and he takes full responsibility and says he would not blame me) to talking about getting engaged.
He suggested it–not me.
But now he is saying he has to stay in Ventura so he is close to the hospital where his records are. Even this part is very confusing because on the one hand he tells me that is one reason he hesitates to move to Ojai but yet he goes off into the mountains and to remote areas, far far away from any hospital.
I better get the name of which hospital has his records because if he ever collapses I need to know where to send him.
Later I wrote Ann again:
Oh my God! The full horror, irony and humor of it all is hitting me full force!
My heart hurts so bad.
I just remembered how all this time I though this was a man who kept his own home. I recall saying to him, “One of the things I like and really admire about you is that you are not looking for a woman to keep house for you…that you have made a beautiful home for yourself.”
All this time I thought all those photos on Facebook were his house!
So ironic! Everything in the house belongs to Diane. If I understood correctly (and maybe I didn’t) he does not even own a pot or pan. He says the kitchen is the size of my yoga room.
But how could he let me go on and on about how I liked that he was self-sufficient and enjoyed homemaking.
I FEEL SO DUPED!
More later –have to process this somehow and see the light!
Adam called the next morning around 6 am and my machine recorded his message:
“Good morning Suza, it’s Adam, it’s early …Hey a couple of things… I certainly apologize for all the hurt and disturbance I’ve caused… I let my emotions cloud my common sense… anyway I hope you won’t give up on me.”
I wrote Ann again:
Adam left a message on my machine saying he misses me… and how much he appreciates everything yesterday at Meditation Mount.
I am in too much pain to call him back at the moment. I don’t want to say anything I might regret.
I am haunted by how on Sunday he could have explained everything. Instead he added a lie on top of the lie by saying Diane and her mom stayed at his house because he wanted to help them.
I explained the whole story of what I found out at Meditation Mount.
Wow. This is stranger than fiction, all right.
I’m sorry for your pain. You might want to Google “pathological liar.”
JUST BE GLAD YOU DIDN’T LET IT GO ANY FURTHER!!
On January 12 I wrote in my journal:
It scares me to be with someone who can look me in the eye and lie.
I still feel like I am in shock.
Plus I still do not know what to believe.
I taught this morning. After I teach this whole thing seems like a distant dream. When I do my own practice I feel a direct line to God.
I feel complete unto myself.
I need a break from Adam.
Later I emailed Adam:
My Dear Adam,
I am in too much pain to call you back. From here on the future of our relationship is in your hands. I have done all I can.
While I wrote about all this in my journal Adam called. He said he just gotten out of a meeting and he would try to reach me again, a little later.
I wrote Ann:
I am not going to call him back. We had a sweet parting last night. He knows where I live. If he is serious about me he can come over anytime and talk to me face-to-face.
I do think you need to tell him (on the telephone!) that you’re going to take care of yourself by ending the relationship–without vindictiveness.
I wrote back:
I already told him that if he wants to keep seeing me he has to move out of Diane’s house.
He knows he stirred me up. He even said something about how if I drop him some other man will get the benefit.
But that’s not how it works.
Ann agreed. She wrote: No, it’s not.
Later she wrote:
Would you like to borrow a wonderful book I have by David Richo, titled, How to Be an Adult in Relationships? I have read and reread the chapter “Choosing a Partner” and its subhead “Qualified Candidates.”
I wrote to Ann:
I’ve been reading the link on Relationship Scam Artists. At least he’s not a thief like the man that woman married!
She wrote back:
Yes, that is more than sad.
Suza, I think you need to let him go. In friendship. But don’t see him any more, because you’re addicted to him. It’s your life, but that’s my advice. I don’t think he can help himself.
I went to amazon and started reading the book Ann recommended, How to Be an Adult in Relationships.
I ordered two paperback copies
What I read gave me peace of mind to return Adam’s call. We would both read the book and get through these bumps in the road.
When I called Adam bared is soul.
[Oh my God, I am such a sucker for soul baring.]
“At the end of all his talking ,” I wrote Ann later that evening, “I said to him that there was a book I wanted us both to read. He is such an avid reader and he readily agreed to read it. He even looked it up and said it looks good.”
Ann, I could not tell him I would not see him anymore after what he said.
He apologized again and thanked me profusely.
He told me how much better he feels now that the truth is out.
He realizes things may not work out between us but that he needs to do the things I asked to get his life back on track.
He talked about how much I’ve taught him…that “Honesty is the best policy.”
Ann, my plan is to keep him at arms length –but I am not ready to say “I don’t want to see you again.”
We are going to read David Richo’s book together.
Later that evening Ann wrote:
I hear you, sweetie. You know that I would really like things to work out for you and Adam. You’re in love with him, and I think he’s in love with you, too. I’m just worried that he’s too out of whack to get back on track. But we’ll see. Eyes wide open, fingers crossed.
I wrote back:
Eyes wide open is right. I’m on high alert for any more lies.
In a way it feels like he is a child. He keeps saying I am miles and miles ahead of him…that he has already benefited enormously from knowing me, while he has been nothing but trouble.
Ann wrote back: True enough!
The next day I wrote:
Well, Ann, it’s Thursday night, two days since I Iast saw Adam. We have been talking on the phone. About everything.
Actually he does most of the talking. I try to be a better listener and not interrupt.
For all his faults, it’s a great relief to be with a man who expresses how he feels.
This is so hard. This morning he was telling me all the thing he wants to do for creating wildlife corridors. It makes me fall in love with him all over again. The rest of this stuff seems so small. The lives of so many creatures are at stake.
As he was talking I vowed to be his friend no matter what.
I want to be supportive of all the environmental things he is so passionate about.
The whole thing really does put me in a quandary.
We have worked through so much shit in nine weeks!
I think he has apologized about fifty times for his lies and what he has put me through.
He tried to explain again why he lied. But not to justify.
He repeated parts of our conversation at Meditation Mount, and emphasized how serious he takes it all.
Then I told Ann:
Tonight, as he was telling me how his day went, he paused, and said, “I hope this is OK , but someone asked about my connection to Ojai,and I said “ My girlfriend, Suza Francina.”
Then there was another pause.
He sounded so serious.
Then he said something like, ” I’d rather ask you in person, but I guess over the phone will do. Will you be my girlfriend? I would be so honored to have you as my girlfriend.”
Ann, my eating–all-alone heart just melted.
I said “Yes, I’d love to be your girlfriend.”
And then he talked about what that means to him. How good I am for him. How I will keep him on track.
And now he knows where he stands and he won’t have other relationships.
Ann, I don’t know what to do!
I want to give him a chance.
So then I said, “Well, if I am your girlfriend then you are my boyfriend.”
“Yes,” He agreed, “ That’s how it works.”
And then we were cracking up over how adolescent it all sounded.
He has meetings all day tomorrow. We plan to have dinner Sunday night.
Ann wrote back:
So, you have a boyfriend!!
Well, I can’t help rooting for you two.
If he’s really done telling lies, then love will find a way.
As I read these words three months later, I shake my head in disbelief–I can’t believe how naive I was!
Recommended reading on Lies, Liars and Lying