I am a recovered liar

To understand my current situation, I have to tell you about a part of me that contains so much shame. I will normally never censor you or ask you to censor yourselves but I am asking you today to think before you decide to comment. This is a really hard thing for me to share. I am angrier at myself and harder on myself than anybody else could be and have been for longer than you will ever know. So please, compassion only today. I have anticipated this post for a while and in my quest to be my most authentic self – along with recent events – I’ve decided it has to be now. 

Growing up, I was in a lot of pain. The emotional and psychological neglect, the sibling abuse, the situation I was in – I was crying out for help. Silently. 

Because I was never allowed to share. I wasn’t allowed to call 911. I wasn’t allowed to tell my friends or even my extended family our secrets. I was told that to tell… was to betray. I was punished when I did tell. My parents were prominent social figures and I learned early that to tell was to ask for trouble. 

In high school, I began to self harm. I was in a lot of emotional pain. My boyfriends, my good friends, they all wanted to know why. But I wasn’t allowed to tell. So… I lied.

I lied about being hurt in ways that I wasn’t, by people who didn’t exist. I lied to feel care. I lied to express the desperate hurt that lived inside of me. 

I lied. I lied a lot. And I hurt a lot of people with my lies. And it took a lot of time for me to even believe that I am worthy of a good life – that just because I did a bad thing doesn’t mean I am a bad person.

I still have yet to figure out why I lie only to men… and I cannot forgive myself for lying about very real things that many have experienced – including my best friend. Including many of you. And the shame runs so deep. I am so sorry if what I have told people in any way minimized any real hurt that any of you have experienced – I was hurting and small and I needed comfort.

It was all I knew how to do – tell stories about something that received an automatic empathetic response – something that got me the care I needed, a coping mechanism that allowed my survival and for the emotional needs I had to be met. And after a while it became addictive – a habit that made the pain end. And I am so, so, incredibly ashamed. 

I tried to stop on my own. I tried to figure it out. I lied out of this fear of retaliation from my family but also out of the fact that I thought the sinister insidious abuse I was going through wasn’t bad enough. Because I would tell people about my family life and get “don’t be ridiculous” and “you can’t possibly be hurting that much.”

So I lied… about being sexually assaulted and raped. 

Yes, I am that person – and I hate myself for it every day… although I never lied about a real person – just to real people. I never got anybody in trouble. My perpetrator was fake. 

I started recovering when I met my now fiancé – I told him the same well crafted lie. I needed care and emotional support for some very real hurt… But something about him was different. 

The first time I told the truth, I told him that I loved him, knew I wanted to marry him, and that I needed to confess these very big lies. That I was incredibly afraid. That I didn’t know if I would stay with me. He was the first person to hear the truth. He was the first person to stay – in fact he insisted we shower together and wash away the past and it was really incredibly lovely… He found out that I had been lying to him – that everything he knew about me was a lie – and he stayed. It wasn’t easy, and it took a long time for him to trust me again, and there was a long, hard road to travel – but he stayed to travel it with me. 

From there, I began to heal.

I have shed so many tears over this part of me and even now, two years clean from my last lie (of any sort, I am very aware of any lies at all), my fiancé tells me I need to forgive myself. I need to let it go. That he has forgiven me. That what I did may not have been right, but I have made amends and it DID make sense. 

I was a hurting teenager with incredible pain and nobody to talk to so I crafted stories – stories that were believable and publicly accepted as “bad” – stories that served to both express my pain and ease my neglect.

And I live with that every day. I am so so sorry, and so so ashamed.

The first time I told a counsellor it was Em. It took me six months to even tell her – I just sobbed in silence, telling her she would hate me. Convinced I was an awful person. She told me that I was not. That an awful person wouldn’t have these regrets or make these amends. Or seek out help to heal. 

I tell you this for two reasons – the first in the hopes of support but also so you understand the context of today’s session — because what I lied about finally happened to me. And it’s so hard to not think that after all this time, I deserve it… As some form of karmic retribution.

And the second because I am sure I am not the only one. I am sure that there are others who hurt so bad but are so afraid to tell that they feel the need to lie. And they wonder if there is hope or if they will ever find someone to truly love the broken pieces of them. Or if they’re psychopathic or a pathological liar or what the hell is wrong with them. 

And I am not proud of what I did and I am still very much struggling with it… Especially now that what I lied about for so long is my new reality. But I am here to say that there is hope. 

If only I could convince myself that my sexual assault wasn’t related and that I deserve care and compassion. Especially from myself.

If only I could forgive myself the way others have forgiven me.

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21 thoughts on “I am a recovered liar

  1. When our internal works doesn’t match or perceived external world, we’ll do almost anything to create congruency. I absolutely understand why you told this lie. It makes perfect sense that you’d be so desperate for someone, anyone, to see and validate how much you were hurting. No one ever deserves it. Thank you for sharing. Sending love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Andi. I really appreciate this. It has made a huge difference to receive these comments and to hear that people understand, that it makes sense. I am receiving your love and so grateful for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The judgment I felt after reading this post was positive judgment about your courage, and dedication to healing (by doing the very hard work of being honest and admitting to the lies, and letting others “see” that part of you who lied).
    I just really get it, not feeling like “it” was bad enough to warrant the pain, and lying and coming up with creative ways to explain something that really doesn’t need any explaining at all. You feel how you feel, and that is enough. I think that younger you, who did the lying, was quite strong to find a way to make it through a really hard time in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rachel, I really appreciate this kind and thoughtful comment. I feel like maybe, just maybe, I am able to find compassion for that part of me that was lying. Something has shifted. In a good way.

      I am grateful that you get it, in many ways. Although also sorry that you get it because it means you were also hurt, it provides a sense of solidarity and community in knowing I’m not alone.

      I’ve always been quite ashamed of younger me for what she did in lying, but your comment actually made me catch my breath because maybe she was a lot stronger than I gave her credit for. Maybe without the lies I wouldn’t have survived.

      Thank you again, Rachel. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The only thing I feel when I read this is compassion, and a kind of awe at the bravery it must have taken for you to come clean with your fiance, at the risk of losing the most important person in your life. There’s no malice in you, just a deep hurt that needed to be acknowledged and tended to. You weren’t lying about the pain, just the reason for it. I hope that sharing has helped to ease the shame.

    And I know the other side of this, because I did the same thing once, when I was a teenager – like you, someone asked why I was hurting myself, and I didn’t have an explanation that was bad enough, so I lied. And I still feel beyond terrible about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Rea.

      It was the hardest conversation I have ever had – the only thing stopping me from chickening out was that I knew I wanted to marry him, and I knew I wouldn’t marry him without him knowing the absolute truth about me.. And the longer I waited – the worse it would be.

      He did take a two week break after that night to think about what he wanted, but that night he stayed and took care of me and assured me that it was the past. I didn’t mind that he took that break either – one of the things I love about him is unlike with my family I never have to guess what he is feeling. So when he came back and said he was in it forever, in it until I healed and beyond, I believed him.

      And thank you for saying “you weren’t lying about the pain, just the reason for it” – I find that very validating and helpful.

      As I try to let go and feel less ashamed and less terrible, I invite you to as well. Our lies do not define us, as you so eloquently put it. Xx

      Like

  4. I had nothing but compassion, empathy, understanding, and love for you as I read your post. I thought about how incredibly brave you are to write this post, especially since it’s exposing a “flaw”. I was floored by hour honesty and your strength. It awed me and I wanted to be as honest and as brave as you are to share more of my own stories.

    Please know that I didn’t judge you at all and in fact wished that I could’ve been there to be a friend for you who could care for you without you having to lie about anything. I wished that you had parents who protected you so that you didn’t feel forced to lie about things to get the care you need. I have also always felt like I needed to protect my family by lying on their behalf. Once, I lied to my teachers about the physical abuse I was enduring at home. Like you, I believed that I was “betraying” my mother if I said anything. So I understand. It’s a tough situation to be in and as a child, you do what you had to do to survive it.

    Now, you’re so much stronger because you not only admitted to your fault but that you are also seeking forgiveness and making amends. That takes a lot of courage and self awareness. That is so admirable!

    As for the sexual assault that you’d experienced… You do not deserve it. Nobody ever deserves to be sexually assaulted! For the longest time, I thought it was my fault that the boy in my neighborhood molested me. I was 5 when that happened. I blamed myself and told myself for years after that it was my fault he touched me. I should’ve stopped him but I didn’t. But that’s not true. I was 5. I couldn’t have done anything to stop him. It wasn’t my fault. In the same way, your experience is not your fault and that it didn’t happen because you deserved it. It happened because there are sick people out there who want to inflict pain on others. That is on them, not you. Sexual assaults are very hard to heal from, but I know you’re strong enough to do it, PD. You’ve got the drive, determination, self awareness, and intelligence needed to do so. You’re a survivor, PD, and that is something to be proud of because you did what it takes to survive!

    I hope that you can be gentle with yourself. To speak kind things to yourself because you are hurting and that you shouldn’t add more pain in top of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sweetie, I don’t care that you’ve lied to people before. Honestly. We have all been liars at some point– it’s part of being human to wrestle with the importance of the truth.

    What I see in you is a very sensitive, truthful person abhorred by past words and actions that weren’t in line with who you know yourself to be. Of course that brings a tremendous experience of shame… but you have done everything in your power to make amends and come clean. That takes even more courage than telling the truth the first time around! Believe me, I’ve had to walk a similar path. I know how hard it is to admit to our failings. While my transgressions were not telling lies, my own were much worse… I’ve intentionally said things to hurt other people in my life, and have treated them poorly. Sure, it was out of my own pain and hurt… but, that’s no excuse.
    And, I love this about you PD, it is the hallmark of a good person to no longer make excuses for their own transgressions.

    I don’t believe in Karma. If Karma was real, there wouldn’t be so much injustice around us.

    You are doing the best you can, today, with where you are today. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. But every woman that has, blames themselves at some point in processing it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind and lovely comment.

      It is so hard to admit our failings. And you’re right, it isn’t an excuse – thank you for noticing that I very much own it. I understand why I did it – but I can’t excuse it due to that.

      I also like what you said about karma. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Does She Even Believe Me? | Paper Doll Therapy Blog

  7. Much compassion to you, PD. I am impressed with your strength and bravery, and hope this disclosure will relieve you of some longstanding guilt and shame. We all do what we need to do to survive and we all make mistakes, especially when we are young and not getting our needs met. The recent assault was not your fault, and not connected to your past behavior. I hope you can be compassionate with yourself as you process through this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sharon, I so appreciate your comment. It has been healing to read these comments from strangers and has given me some more space for healing. I am doing my best to be compassionate – and kind words certainly do help, so thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing. It’s okay, and what you said about wanting that care, and lying to receive it, made a whole lot of sense. You had a need (for care) and you tried to fill that. It’s okay. And I agree with your counselor Em: an awful person would not try to make amends or heal from this.
    You still didn’t deserve to be assaulted, and I understand now more than before how hard this is for you. Be compassionate toward yourself. And I agree with foreverisalooongtime, you were brave to share this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I needed to read the “it’s okay”s you sent my way so much. I burst into tears while reading them. It doesn’t always feel okay and it’s SO hard to not feel like I in some way ‘deserved’ what happened. But comments like these make it easier. And it’s gotten easier over the years and hopefully it will continue to get easier.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 I know what you mean. It will continue to get easier. You’re working hard, both with this specific incident and everything. You didn’t deserve it, and there’s nothing you could say to make me think otherwise. You deserve better than that.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. PD I am a person who has been sexually abused. There is no judement here, just an understanding that you did what you needed to do at the time. You are brave enough to tell, despite how terrible it makes you feel.
    You did not deserve to be assaulted. No matter what.
    Be gentle and kind to yourself, we all do things that we are ashamed of. There are very few people who are brave enough to admit it like you have xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Forever, your comment means so very much to me. I can’t express what the lack of judgment does to help me in healing. I did what I needed to do but that still doesn’t excuse it, and I am still very sorry. But also more compassionate with myself. Thank you for commenting with such kindness – xx

      Like

    • Thanks fairy 🙂 I accept all the love and light and healing you send my way (and hugs). It will take a while I think to stop believing it was deserved… But one day at a time. And I will come back and read these when I struggle.

      Like

  10. It was very brave of you to admit that.

    Once upon a time I probably would have criticised you. Once upon a time I was *that* horrible doctor in the ER who got annoyed with people who came in after self-harm or suicide attempts, who would never have understood the crazy and clingy behaviour that comes with attachment disorders, who thought everything was black and white and I was better than that.

    What I didn’t understand back then was that behind all of those behaviours were real people with unique stories and a lot of pain. All I saw was the snapshot of a single moment, and that is all most people ever see and judge you on. More than being on the other side of the experience myself, it has been reading people’s stories on their blogs that has led me to see things differently. We are all actual people, stumbling through bad circumstances and sometimes messing up and making bad decisions.

    There’s a lot more to it than just saying you did something ‘bad’ and it serves you right. You didn’t deserve to be sexually assaulted, and it was not karmic justice. It was something that was done to you, that you didn’t deserve, that no-one deserves, no matter what else in life they have done. You did the best you could when you were younger, and that’s really all you can say with all these years of hindsight.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dangerous,

      I loved your comment. Something about the admittance you made yourself was very helpful to me and I am not sure I can articulate it.

      The silver lining of everything I’ve been through is I do my best in every day life now to really stop and consider the pain people may be in before I judge them or jump to conclusions.

      “I was doing the best that I could” – thank you for seeing me through such a compassionate lens, dangerous, it has helped me view myself the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

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