When I was growing up, I lied a lot. I lied a lot and I concocted and then told elaborate stories about myself, my family, my neighbors, the world. I started at such a young age, that I’m not quite sure where it came from.
My mom tells a story about me being in kindergarten, and a policeman coming to my class to stay away from strangers and that kind of thing. Apparently, I told the police officer mid-way through the presentation that when I was bad, my parents locked me in a closet and wouldn’t let me out, and that they didn’t feed me or let me use the restroom while I was locked in said closet.
Apparently my mom, who was present, and kindergarten teacher were so accustomed to my wild stories that they just shook their heads at the officer and he basically ignored my tall tales the remainder of the presentation. Because, ya know, my parents gave me “bad drugs” and who knows what else.
Fast forward to third grade, where I told some real whammies and convinced my teacher that she couldn’t come to my piano recital because my piano teacher had died. Well, she hadn’t, and I specifically remember being made to apologize and explain such to my teacher. That was the first time I remember having to recant, and while I’d like to say there weren’t anymore instances, and that I learned my lesson, there would be many more stories that I would have to recant during my lifetime.
The elaborate lie-making didn’t end in elementary school. It continued through middle school, where I made up stories about homework and forged my name on all of the disciplinary notes that were “sent home” from my German Languages teacher. It didn’t stop there, either, although you would think having your bedroom’s contents stripped down to bed, dresser, and school-books would have inspired some sort of change. It didn’t.
In high school, I told stories to get out of basketball practices, and when I started dating, I lied constantly about where I was, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with. You would think that with all this practice lying, that I would have become skilled at it. Not the case. My parents knew every time I told even the tiniest lie and I was grounded on countless occasions.
And then I was sent off to college, to a town just an hour away, and continued with my lying ways. I lied about taking my meds, about drinking, about staying out late, missing class, not doing homework, getting my first “C.” Somehow the truth always came out, though. And the results were often not very pretty.
Midway through college, I was lying about my location, for the most part. I had a boyfriend in my hometown and I would drive back nearly every weekend to stay with him. And when I stay with him, I mean sleep over at his place and tell my parents I was still back at school. They didn’t buy much of that, either.
After college, the lying became harder to do. I was in an abusive relationship and I barely talked to my parents. I didn’t know how to get out, how to get help, what to do. Looking back, I could have easily moved home, but at the time I felt like that would mean I had truly failed at the game of life.
About nine months after getting out of school and into this nasty relationship, my life came to a halt. I had moved out of the abusive boyfriend’s house and into an apartment. I talked to my family frequently, but lied about my drinking and, in my eyes, was hiding some of the most confusing rapid cycling ever.
When I hit bottom, my parents told me I was moving back home and needed to start over. I accepted it. I was without even a shred of sanity and I couldn’t take anymore. By moving me back to town, my parents likely saved my life. I couldn’t have gone on the way I was much longer. I was finally honest about my symptoms, and about what life had dealt me.
And for a period of time, I was more honest in everyday life. I was upfront about what I was doing and where I was. I was living life in survival mode, and I listened most of all to what my parents told me to do. I’m glad I did, because I would not be here today without them and their support.
After a transition period, I moved out on my own and jumped into a relationship. I found myself lying about this person, because I knew he wouldn’t match up to what my parents thought I deserved. And that became the pattern for the next ten years. I lied about where and how I spent my money, and I lied about whatever boyfriend I had at the time. And of course, I lied to those boyfriends.
When I met DSB, one of the first thing he ever told me was that he didn’t tolerate lying. And I was in a severe manic episode when we first got together, and I lost track of all the hundreds of tiny little lies that I told. A few months into our relationship, he sat me down and we talked about my lying and how it affected us. He couldn’t trust me, didn’t trust me. It felt horrible to hear him say that. DSB prides himself on being a man of his word, and here I was, lying away to him.
I made a concerted effort in the months after that not to lie. We came up with a system, because sometimes a lie would slip out before I even realized, like it was a bad habit. If I lied, I had to say something immediately. And so I started doing that, and the lies became fewer and farther in between. I was learning, at 30, 31 years old, how NOT to lie. It amazes me, thinking back.
Now here I am, two years later, and I can proudly say that I feel I am an honest person. I feel like you can trust what is coming out of my mouth, I’ve stopped making up stories, and I keep my word. If I tell you I’m going to do something, then you had better believe I’m going to do my best to make it happen. And I will. And I do. DSB has helped me to be a better person by yanking the lies right out of my head. I hardly ever tell an “accidental” lie now, and I never put thought into crafting a tale about something.
It’s a lot easier to just be honest the first time around. Then you don’t have to keep track of what lie you told to who, when. The other thing about keeping your word and not lying, is that you come to expect it in other people, and you tend to say something when everything isn’t on the up-and-up. I wish it hadn’t taken 30 years to learn not to lie, but I am grateful I have people in my life who have taught me that lesson.