I barely slept the night after watching Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah. I felt complete empathy for the victims of his lies.
Those brave individuals who tried to expose the truth only to be accused of lying themselves, with Armstrong going as far as suing them.
I know only too well the sting of injustice they would have been feeling.The knowing with absolute certainty and conviction that you are telling the truth, only to be falsely persecuted.
The interview with Armstrong was so chilling because, by his own admission, at the time, there was no remorse.
Armstrong said, “I will be apologizing every day for the rest of my life,” but did he say that because that is what people want to hear? I don’t believe he is genuinely sorry for any of the pain and destruction he has caused.
By his own admission, he is a sociopath and narcissist, and sociopaths are geniuses at knowing what it is that people want to hear. Armstrong will be apologizing now to mend his tattered reputation.
I have no doubt he would have continued to accuse his victims of lying if he could have got away with it.
Even so, it must be a huge relief for those who have been accused of lying for years, to finally be vindicated, especially those who were sued for lies and defamation.
My experience with lies
Two memories of my own kept me awake after Armstrong’s interview; one mild and one far more serious. In both, the only people who knew the real truth was me and the perpetrator.
Everyone else had to make up their own minds as to what they believed.
The minor case, takes us back to my childhood where my brothers and I were making clay models. I was extremely creative and prided myself on the patience and detail I put into my sculpture.
My far more intellectual brother on the other hand was bored with the project. He took a ball of clay in his hand, squished it into a cylinder and slammed it onto the table.
‘There, that’s a worm,’ he announced, just as my Mom approached us. ‘Ah, said my mom, ‘who made it?
‘It was Michele said my brother.’ No it wasn’t I protested, Trevor made it. Tell her Max.’
My brothers exchanged a look. ‘It was Michele, said Max.’
I spent that afternoon in a froth of misery, begging my brothers to tell the truth. They were impervious to my tears and claimed, even years later that I had created it.
What caused me so much misery wasn’t that I was seen as the creator of something so crude, but that I was painted as the liar and I had no proof otherwise. As an adult, my brother has owned up to making the worm, for which I am very grateful.
My abusive uncle
The more serious experience was me being sexually abused by my Uncle when I was younger. Like Armstrong, my Uncle went to great lengths to paint me as a liar in order to protect his reputation.
When I wrote my book, The Au Pair, I mentioned the child abuse as it was relevant to the overall story. Even though I protected my Uncle with a pseudonym, he was so worried that people who knew the family would put two and two together that he sued me.
It was during this time that I realised that the justice system is not fair and that it serves only those who have the money behind them to pay the massive legal expenses that it takes to sue. My Uncle wanted a written apology and wanted the books withdrawn off the shelves.
I couldn’t afford the legal fees myself and was told that if I did not pay to be represented with a letter written to court, that I would automatically lose the case. To cut a long story short, a lawyer offered to represent me pro bono.
Even though a settlement was eventually reached, so much was stirred up again; the frustration and screaming agony of being told you are lying when you know you are not. We want to believe that people are good and that deep down they care.
I used to harbor a fantasy that one day my Uncle would say ‘I did it, and I’m sorry.’ I know that won’t ever happen, and I’ve had to accept that my healing can’t rely in any way on him being sorry.
To my dear, sweet brother, thank you for finally owning up to the worm, without being forced to.To my Uncle, I hope that you develop conscience one day, and feel genuine shame and regret for what you have done.
I wish all those who have been on the receiving end of a narcissist, sociopathic liar, some inner peace. Don’t allow their lies to poison you.
Often easier said than done, I know.
Michele Macfarlane is the author of The Au Pair (I left my husband for the Au Pair).