My response to Savannah Guthrie, on Matt Lauer’s firing

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“How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly and I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. 

Savannah Guthrie was friends and co-anchors with Matt Lauer from the “Today Show,” who was recently accused of sexual misconduct and fired. Her quote wasn’t extremely articulate or well put, but she had just found out hours earlier and was still processing through her shock at having to report on a friend. I love this quote more than I can express because of the rawness to it. 

So, what do you do when you have been betrayed by someone you cared about- someone you trusted and were friends with? That moment when you are left shocked and confused by their actions? This post isn’t in regards to just sexual misconduct, there are many, many other demons out there that people will do anything to keep hidden. Today, I will attempt to address this.

First of all, none of us are perfect. None. Some people definitely embrace depravity and evil and there is always a choice of wrong or right in front of every decision we make. This is in no way an attempt to defend Matt Lauer, any accusation of sexual misconduct is disgusting to me and if he did whatever he is accused of I hope he is penalized and prosecuted to the fullest extent.

What I’m trying to set up here is that even the little, normal struggles in our day to day life that we don’t want anyone knowing can cause us to spend palpable effort to be perceived as someone we aren’t. Often times it’s those decisions to hide patterns of behavior that can develop into something much bigger and more toxic over time. At the end of the day humanity is capable of atrocious behaviors and the biggest lie is to think it could never be “ME”.  That being said, the shame, condemnation and consequences of being found out for those choices drives many people to secrecy and to lie to the ones they love the most. So, I understand why people do what they do, it’s human nature and I imagine many hollywood execs, movie stars, politicians, news anchors, etc are sweating tonight wondering if they’ll be tomorrow’s headline.  

So, how do those of us who are on THIS side process this…? It’s hard to be the one who is shocked by a terrible revelation about a friend, not directly hurt or abused as the primary victim if there is one, which is much more devastating and tragic, but little is said of secondary victims by association. You see the news stories where friends or family members of someone who committed a terrible crime are struggling with basic words to the reporter, finally stammering out through tears, “I just had no idea… I’m in shock”.

I think that every one of us is capable of some deceit but perhaps some of us are more inclined towards it in more extreme ways than others. Maybe I’m wrong in saying that but as far as I go, typically I’m pretty honest and straightforward. I’m ready to admit fault but that’s not something I think highly of myself for simply the terrifying burden of hiding is just not worth it to me. I have enough anxiety issues as it is, I’d rather just come clean and deal with the consequences of my actions than carry something around.

But, like the quote from Savannah Guthrie who is grappling with the accusations against Matt Lauer because they are in complete conflict to the person she thought she knew who was a good friend to her- how do you move forward? It’s not as simple as forgiving and moving on.  There is this confusing pain and grief that is pulling you apart inside, one moment you feel the loss of the relationship, than the next moment there is the anger at betrayal coupled with the feelings of “I should have known something was wrong” even when there was no possible way of knowing. Hindsight is 20/20 and carries with it the heavy weight of shame.  

So after processing all of this because of a painful experience I had this year with a friend who I thought I knew, my answer to the question she posed is this:

  1. Forgive yourself first and stop beating yourself up. Remind yourself there was nothing you could have done when they hid so much, so well, for so long.
  2. Forgive them second, or when you are able to. Realize it had nothing to do with you- it was about their own addictions and demons they chose not to deal with. 
  3. Breathe deep, love and take care of yourself.
  4. STOP looking backwards at those behaviors that suddenly seem so obvious. You had no idea you were being lied to, after all, this was someone who you trusted who was close to you. You have no idea if you are right or not and unless someone wants to change, you couldn’t have helped them.
  5. DON’T lose confidence in your discernment and intuition. Many people who are hiding a lot are masters of emotional intelligence and can easily manipulate you, abusing your faith in them and your goodness.
  6. Realize that people will surprise and betray you throughout your life and that as you get older you will learn to work through the pain quicker and blame yourself less.
  7. Finally, NEVER stop seeing the potential and good in people. If you let those few people change your outlook on those around you you are letting them win.