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.