Truth Rejected, Truth Reflected

At 9-years old, my mother tried to have a discussion with me that I will remember with crystal clearness until the end of my days. She told me, “Suzy, sometimes your truthfulness hurts other people and you have to learn to bite your tongue to prevent people from feeling bad about themselves. Even if it is not the truth, you always want to say things that will make people happy without stinging them with words that will bring them pain”.

I did not fully understand what she was telling me and for a long time afterwards, I thought my mom was the devil and preferred other people over me, her own daughter. How could she tell me to lie to people or “bite my tongue” from telling people the truth? What was so wrong with being truthful and why would the truth hurt other people?

By that time and in all my years leading up to it, I had caused so much grief in my family because I always bluntly told people what I thought of them or was thinking at any given moment. In social situations, in front of my mom’s friends, if I thought a lady looked like a dog, I would point to her and say, “dog”. If I thought a man had the evil characteristics of a snake, I would point my little finger at him and call him “devil” or “snake”. If people asked me how I was doing, I would tell them I was bored, cold, hated being around them or was scared of my dad or hungry. If I heard my mom or dad bending the truth about anything, I would point out they were lying. If a woman called asking for my mom or dad, I would tell her they were fighting and to call back later. If someone knocked at the door and my mom told me to tell them she was not there, I would tell the person she was either watching TV upstairs, in the bathroom, or putting on nail polish in the kitchen and to come back later. I was so uncontrollable and the cause of so many disputes and gossip, that my mom would lock me in my room whenever guests came and alerted my siblings to never allow me to answer the phone.

Over time, I felt my parents preferred their shady friends over me, their own daughter. I watched them all sit and lie, brag, and act fake in front of me. I could see through everything. If my parents attended a dinner function and brought along a present or a dessert cake, once we got back home and my mom came by my room to turn off the lights, she would discover the flattened cake placed beside me as I slept next to it protecting it. She would panic and take it back to the home we visited apologizing for her daughter’s innocence. Was I selfish? No. If I sensed the guests were not worthy of it, I always took my parent’s gifts back home with me, sometimes unnoticed and sometimes discovered. I did not understand why people were rewarded for being liars. How come I never got a cake for telling the truth? Why was I always punished?

Times don’t change as time has proved. Over 20 years later, I find that I am still punished for always telling the truth. Regardless of my mother’s early advice, I always tell the truth regardless of how bold, blunt, aggressive, or hurtful it may be. I never hide my feelings about anything and there are many people who can confirm that. I always felt alien in a bullshit world, until the day I watched the movie Splash where Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid. She is walking the streets with Tom Hanks and someone asks him how he is doing. He says fine or well or something positive like that. And that is where Daryl Hannah says something like, “Why do you humans lie like that when it is evident you are not doing fine?” I jumped up from my seat in the movie theater and started clapping and screaming, “She is RIGHT! Good for you! Woohoooo!” I was booed at and told to sit back down and shut up. I didn’t care because for once in my life, FOR ONCE, I felt Truth reflected back at me. And ever since then, I wanted to be a mermaid because only mermaids understood truth.

-Suzy Kassem