Lying as a Spiritual Practice

photo: Mike Poresky on flickr

If you’re like most people, you’ve told a lie from time to time.

But have you ever been forced to lie? By a boss? Or parent? Or friend?

How did you handle it? Did you ever come clean and tell the truth?

Back in the day, I got a great job. It was in the Social Work field.

A majority of jobs in this field are low-paying, but I managed to find a position that paid well. Plus, I got to work with teenagers, which was my passion at the time.

In other words, I scored.

During my job interview, I came out.

No, I didn’t come out as a card-carrying Goofball. They could probably tell that the minute I walked in the room.

I came out as a lesbian.

I didn’t plan on coming out, but they asked a question that could best be answered by revealing my sexuality, so I did.

Soon after I was hired, I found out they had considered not hiring me because I was a lesbian.

Not long after that, my boss requested that I hide my sexual orientation from the teens I was working with.

He said he wasn’t worried about the teens as much as their parents. He didn’t want our program to attract negative publicity because I was gay.

photo: Neil Piddock on flickr

I checked with some friends who were well-versed in anti-discrimination laws. They said it was a gray area and there wasn’t much I could do. I also read a book about coming out in the workplace. It said that if you don’t have your boss’s support, it’s not a good idea.

So I stayed in the closet.

When the teens would ask my colleagues if they were married or dating, they would answer. I, on the other hand, was forced to be cagey.

At the time, I had a partner with two kids. So I wasn’t just hiding my sexual orientation, I was hiding my family.

I had only come out as gay a few years before.

So I had only recently waded through a swamp of internalized homophobia in order to admit I was gay. And now I was wading in another swamp, one imposed by my boss.

Needless to say, the work-swamp added to my lingering belief that there was still something to be ashamed of. Something to hide.

Given my internal swamp, it’s not surprising that my surroundings were swampy as well.

photo: Mike Love on flickr

So, what did I do?

Given that my choices were limited on the “doing” front, I decided to change the “being” component of the equation. I decided to change how I felt about my queer, Goofball self.

I read books with positive lesbian characters. I watched documentaries about the gay and lesbian liberation movement. I came up with affirmations about my lesbian identity and said them regularly. I kept myself strong emotionally, physically and spiritually with meditation, exercise and healthy eating practices.

And, once a year at my performance review, I checked in with my boss about coming out to the teens.

Was it time? Would it be okay, now that I had been there X number of years?

The answer, time and again, was No.

photo: zokarko on flickr

And still I kept up my internal practices, building myself to a place where I knew, without a doubt, that there was nothing wrong with me. Building myself to a place where, even if I couldn’t tell the teens who I was, I knew who I was.

And, wouldn’t you know it, the time finally came. My boss finally gave me permission to be honest with the teens.

I’d like to say it was incredibly liberating, and in many ways it was. But it was also a little anti-climactic.

It was only when I didn’t care about coming out, when it didn’t matter whether I did or didn’t, that I finally could.

I told this story recently in an Ethics class at Holmes Institute. Jaws dropped as I recounted my boss’s prohibition. My teacher noted that it was a good example of being patient and persistence in the face of injustice.

photo: Guillaume Paumier on flickr

But what I’m most struck by, as I review the facts of the story, is that I had to change in order for my environment to change.

Yes, it was an injustice. Yes, I did take slow and steady action to change the situation. But the external change was a reflection of my internal transformation.

Ultimately, I walked away from that job. Not because I hadn’t been allowed to come out, but simply because it was time to move on.

And because of what I’d been through, particularly because I’d been able to build my fortitude in the face of resistance, I left there a stronger person. A more flexible and patient person.

But still a Goofball. Praise Spirit.

photo: Ted Johnson on flickr

When have you faced injustices? And how did they change you?

, , , , , , , , ,

16 Responses to Lying as a Spiritual Practice

  1. Veronica January 15, 2013 at 4:47 am #

    Wonderful story of resilience, patience but most of all Love. The greatest Love of all. Great story Z. It also wonderful to know that you did not chose to live in anger and resentment. No victimhood. Awesome.

    • Z Egloff January 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi Veronica!

      Yeah, living in Victim Land isn’t much fun, is it? Every time I visit there these days, I try to get out as soon as possible!

      Thank you for stopping by! :)

      XOZ

  2. Diana Fawn January 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story! It was very timely, powerful and inspiring for me to read that today! Love and Gratitude!

    • Z Egloff January 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      Hi Diana,

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you liked the story. I’m grateful for what I learned and it’s fun to share it with others.

      Come back again any time! :)

      XOZ

  3. Diana Smith January 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Great story Z….thanks for sharing it with us…reminds me of the Lie of being in active military service, in the early 70s, as I was slowly rising in rank, yet staying under the ra/gadar monitors…privately wrestling how to stay true to oneself…and not risk identification. Challenging to say the least, and at the end of 3 yrs, personal freedom called louder than patriotic freedom that would have been cloaked in the price of deception and imprisoned my soul. Once again, nice the share a parallel journey. Love Tuesdays knowing your blog will greet my morning and your “goofball” sense of humor will lighten up my day…

    • Z Egloff January 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Hi Diana,

      Wow, I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. I mean, I guess that I can imagine a little, but in your case, you had to hide from everyone around you. I’m glad that you were able to respect yourself and your personal freedom and remove yourself from the situation. Though it’s also too bad that you had to make that choice in the first place.

      I’m so glad you’re with me on this journey every Tuesday morning!! :)

      XOZ

  4. Karen January 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Thanks, Z, for the terrific reminder that external change is a reflection of internal transformation. We can never hear that too often.

    As we find better-feeling thoughts about any situation — and especially about ourselves — our situation improves, courtesy of Law of Attraction.

    Your work story is a beautiful example of that. I shared the link with my FB group, “Abraham Fun.”

    P.S. Your blog pictures and their placement are always spot-on. Loved the pic of the startled man. Ha!

    • Z Egloff January 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      Yes, those good ol’ better-feeling thoughts work every time. It’s pretty fun. And amazing.

      Thanks for sharing the link with the “Abraham Fun” group. (What a great name for a group!)

      And I’m glad you enjoy the pictures. When I got the inspiration to do this blog, the pictures were a fundamental part of the vision, even though I didn’t even know how to use Photoshop at the time. I especially liked the startled man pix too!

      Cheers!

      XOZ

  5. Mitch January 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Great article, made me think about telling the truth. Peace and Blessings, Mitch

    • Z Egloff January 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Hi Mitch!

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m grateful that you enjoyed the post. :)

      Blessings to you as well!

      XOZ

  6. Fran January 16, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Love the story. Revealing how it was your opportunity to become clear. I admire your tenacity and dedication to authenticity!

    • Z Egloff January 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Fran!!

      Nice to see you here, as always. :)

      Glad you enjoyed the story. I hope you had a Happy New Year!

      XOZ

  7. squirrel January 19, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Hey, Z. Great story of perseverance and remaining true to yourself. And great post as we approach Martin Luther King Jr. day.

    You handled the situation beautifully, although I was saddened by the fact that you had to experience the injustice, I’m not gonna lie. I AM grateful, however, that times have changed a bit. At least, that has been my experience. I’m out, not only as a lesbian, but as a friend of Bill at work and, really, pretty much in every aspect of my life. Admittedly, these are facts I don’t share with my kids, but it is more out of personal privacy than anything else.

    Part of what these kids are learning is acceptance of all people, regardless of who they are and where the come from. And most of them really “get” it, which is wonderful to see. My point is that, as a rule, I don’t put myself in work situations where I’m not accepted for who I am.

    When I face adversity or injustice, I generally fight for my rights after weighing the options. I choose to stand in my power with love. Sometimes I win in the situation, sometimes I don’t; the point is, I do my best and if nothing else, I learn something in the process.

    Many blessings to you, dear one.
    xos

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:18 am #

      Hi Squirrel!!

      It’s funny how these posts tend to coincide with other things that are going on. It’s not planned at all, but I appreciate you’re pointing out the proximity to MLK Day. Someone else noted the proximity of this post to Jodie Foster (finally) coming out a few days before. And so it is.

      That’s awesome that you are out at work, in all respects. Times have certainly changed. The initial events in my story were over 15 years ago. We’ve come a long way since then, praise God.

      That’s also awesome that you can stand in your power with love. The world needs more people like you! :)

      Blessings back atcha!!

      XOZ

  8. Jill Shinn January 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Hi Z,

    It’s interesting, but the thing that unsettles me most about your story (and many others like it) is that when we feel that we need to hide who we are, we are sort of robbing ourselves and others of having the pleasure of really knowing us. It’s like there’s a wall there that you can’t get past even though both people might like to.

    There have been many times in the past when I’ve had friends or acquaintances who couldn’t tell me they were gay (or who had another secret), and the unexpressed thing took on an awkward life of it’s own.

    I’m so grateful that people are coming out of hiding, whatever that means to them individually, It makes relationships more intimate, and for empaths who sense everybody’s “secrets,” it is a relief not to have to “play dumb” and tiptoe around the one who is hiding.

    Thanks for this, Z. You are an inspiration.

    • Z Egloff January 22, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Hi Jill,

      I agree with you that it is a loss on both sides of the equation when people choose to and/or are forced to be dishonest about who they are.

      I also think you’re right in pointing out that even when things aren’t said, they’re still in the space, and take on a life of their own. Ultimately, we can’t lie, and that causes all sorts of other repercussions.

      Thank God that more and more people are starting to be honest about who they are, not just as gay people, but all sorts of other truths and orientations. In many ways, coming out as a spiritual person was even harder for me than coming out as gay. I’m just grateful that I don’t have to hide anymore!

      Thanks for stopping by!! :)

      XOZ

Leave a Reply