Pants on Fire

Liar, liar, pants on fire. I can still hear that song deep in my brain because it describes me perfectly.

As a child I was a professional liar. It started young and has been pervasive in my adult life until recently. I lied so frequently that I didn’t even realize I was doing it at all. I lied about forgetting my homework when I knew I didn’t even do it because I spent the entire night in pain from anxiety. I lied about doing my homework to my parents. I lied about where I was, who my friends were, what my intentions were, whether I stole food from the pantry, and if I cleaned my room. I lied about big things, little things, pretty much anything and everything. As I got older I knew I was lying more than I had as a small child.

I lied because I was always in trouble. My parents used to say things like “Things would be so much easier for you if you just tell us the truth.” That was bullshit. Things were not easier for me ever. It was always a big deal. Everything I did was problematic and a big deal. I was impulsive and just did what I wanted. Sometimes my brain just failed to put the brakes on my body when I knew I shouldn’t be doing something. When interrogated, I often told my parents that I didn’t know why I did what I did. That actually wasn’t a lie, it was the truth. I still don’t know why I do certain things sometimes.

As an adult, I lied at work because my performance was dropping and I knew why. I knew that my relationship was abusive and that I was overwhelmed at home and depressed in general. But I couldn’t tell anyone that because it was my home life and I needed to deal with it alone. So I lied about my kids being sick. With four of them, it was easy to use that to explain poor performance and also a way to stay home and get a mental health day. I wasn’t trying to get out of work; I was trying to survive and I felt like I couldn’t be open about what I was enduring.

It bothered me when I realized recently that I lied so much. I always thought of myself as a good person. But this lying seemed to prove that I was not a good person. But when I think about why I lied like that, I now realize that I did it to survive. I realize that I was trying to preserve what relationships I did have. And also I didn’t trust the adults around me to take care of me, so I lied to avoid getting into trouble.

I don’t lie as a habit anymore. Once I started believing in myself, I stopped lying. I take responsibility for the mistakes I make and the things I do out of impulse, although I am not as impulsive as I used to be once I started taking Adderall.

With my parents, I guess you could say I like by omission. It’s unclear to me what is an outright lie with them and what is me holding a boundary that feels right for me. I don’t want to just tell them everything when we are not operating in an environment where they don’t tell me everything. Here’s a weird example. Several years, my sister-in-law was pregnant. My brother and I weren’t fighting, but we live many time zones apart and talking on the phone has always been tough with that and his work schedule. But he never told me they were having another baby. My parents knew and didn’t tell me because they had already lost a baby the year before. My mother’s plan was to tell my then 3 year old and have her tell me AFTER the baby was born. My mother thought that would be funny.

I found out on Facebook three days before the baby was born because someone asked her how she was feeling. There had been no mention of her being pregnant, no pictures, nothing on social media leading up to that point. When I asked my parents, they said they knew the entire time and didn’t tell me because my brother said not to tell anyone. And they interpreted that to mean me as well. Eventually my brother and I talked about it and he apologized for not telling me. He assumed they would tell me and I would at least know. But they didn’t. He said they didn’t want everyone to know, but it would’ve been ok for me to know. I have told them in recent years how much this particular event hurt me and made me feel like I wasn’t part of the family. They have always told my brother my business so I am still unclear on why that didn’t work in reverse with big news like a new baby. So they also lie to me by omission. So is it ok for me to do the same? I’m just not sure.

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