Admitting the Truth, Uncovering the Lie

"White lies" became a regular and normal part of my childhood. I've heard others tell stories about the elaborate tales of renovation that were built and concocted to keep friends and family away from the family home, the hoard. I was never that creative. I would say something along the lines of the house being a mess, believing that no one would truly suspect the truth--the house was a MESS!

It hit me recently that I still have trouble telling the truth in situations where it really doesn't make a difference whether I tell the truth or not. It disturbs me to think that telling a half-truth or painting a beautiful deception is not only easy for me, but that my moral compass does not readily stop me from doing it.
Borrowed from Mark Pocan, WI representative, personal blog

For instance, I have told a lie about my abilities in gymnastics and tumbling since I was a small child. I'm not sure how the lie first reared its ugly head, but like a zit that is touched, it keeps coming back, growing larger and leaving a darker scar each time I try to rid myself of the truth.

I'm not sure, but I think that I needed to be "good" at something, to get attention from my peers. I remember clearly feeling inadequate in elementary school--the absence of a father in my family was hard enough, living in a trash pile only added further insult to injury. I'm sure that my natural abilities helped me carry off the lie. No one questioned it because I was super-flexible and I did take classes at the local community center. On some level, I am sure that my lie bought me attention and adoration from a group of my peers that I was ill-fit with.

But why do I keep telling this lie today?

Yes, why?

I don't know exactly. I think on some level I've told the lie so many times that it feels like it may have actually happened. Perhaps on some deeply hidden level I still fear not fitting into groups of people around me.

I don't really have a definitive answer. But this I do know:

"Then you will know the TRUTH, and the truth will set you FREE." 
--John 8:32 TNIV

And believe it or not, admitting this lie here, publicly, does make feel better. Free-er somehow.

Yes, I am a pervasive lie-teller. But I'm in recovery. I'm working on being a truth-teller.

What are you still struggling with? A lie that you've told your whole life until it feels true? A mean-spirited action that destroyed a friendship? Admitting the truth is difficult, but mistakes are human. It's amazing the relief I felt when I admitted this lifelong lie. Find someone you feel safe sharing with, and lay your burden down!


Claire said…
I, too, grew up with a hoarder, and I am also a "pervasive lie-teller." When you say you are working on being a truth-teller, does that mean you are coming clean about the lie? I am definitely in the same boat, but I came to college wanting a fresh start and instead told lies about being more of a bad girl in high school than I actually ever was. So, are you coming clean or just moving on?
Ceci G. said…
Claire--That's an excellent question. For me, the choice was simple--to come clean and then move on. Go with your gut. I think for me, at least, that my attempts to move on kept me telling the old lies, even when I wasn't telling new ones. That's where I'm at right now. I haven't been creating new lies, but I haven't corrected the old ones. It really got to me when I realized I lied to my children about something that was so incredibly unimportant. What kind of model am I being if I keep lying to them too? Definitely, owning up to a lie takes some grace from those you've lied to. Trust your gut instinct. If you feel like you can be honest with someone about revealing your lie and it comes up, you should probably do it. No matter what, bask in the knowledge that you are already beautiful, worthy, enchanting, and loved. Find the real person you are and be HER all the time. Keep in touch!
Sidney said…
Oh, Ceci. Reinventing yourself out of helplessness is not a crime. Your intent was not to deceive others, but to engage them in a valuable relationship with YOU!

Forgive yourself. I'm so glad I've met you! You are wonderful even if you need to blow smoke up my tuchas.
Anonymous said…
Hi Ceci,
Lying is immoral, and you're right to strive to be honest, and to push back against lying.

But I think there is a bigger picture here to be considered, and more to the story that also needs saying if we're to get at the truth.

There is the 'obvious' truth that bare 'third person observable' facts would indicate - which, if I understand you correctly, is that you weren't actually a good gymnast. But I think there are deeper layers, and deeper truths, that telling 'just the facts, ma'am' hides, and without proper context they too turn 'truth' into untruth.

I'm struck, over and over, at the loss of opportunities and the unlived lives (and possible unrealized greatness) of children who've grown up abused, abandoned, or neglected. COH could fit into any or all of those categories.

Too often children from these types of situations grow up with so many natural talents and capabilities which are either not supported or oftentimes suppressed and punished. At a minimum, being COH, even without abusive intent by caregivers, means there are so many blocks to day to day living that there is nothing left for outside endeavours. That is a sure-fire recipe for thwarting success, if you ask me. Which means that the truth - at least as far as I see it - is that many natural gymnasts, musicians, teachers, parents, skaters, dancers, scientists, etc..., people who by all rights SHOULD HAVE grown up to excel in those endeavours and contribute those skills to society, were never allowed to be what they rightly should have been.

I only bring this up (I just stumbled across this post today, which is why I'm responding so late) because I've seen and heard SO many examples of abusive parents telling their children 'You didn't do this', or 'You're not capable of that', and often 'You'll never amount to anything.' And, thanks to years of abusive interference with their children's natural abilities, the hard truth is that they probably didn't. After the fact, the truth is hard to determine. But just because the objective facts are that you *weren't* a skilled gymnast, doesn't necessarily mean that you were incapable of it, or never meant to be one. You said you were "super-flexible", and it makes my heart hurt that you - who are obviously VERY capable and good at many things - had to reach for an untruth in order to pretend that you were good at something.

From what I can see, the suggestion that you weren't good at anything even then - THAT was the lie.
Ceci G. said…
Thank you for sharing. You have many valid points. COH are robbed of many opportunities, even if it is from the simple fact that living in the hoard robs us of so much energy that we may never take a chance on something that we could truly excel at.

In this post, I was focusing on my continued reliance on a lie that I was telling people NOW. Telling people who I know are safe and don't care if I can rock the balance beam or vault with the best. It's that lies became such a part of my identity that I told them without spending any time to question that I was perpetuating something that wasn't my truth.

(For what it's worth, I do believe I could have been good at gymnastics if I'd had the chance. Maybe not Olympics good, but good all the same. The same could be said of many things that I didn't get the opportunity to pursue because of my mother's mental health issues.)

What is important here, at least in my intent, was to point out my own behaviors. Yes, my childhood was filled with perpetuated lies about who we were, how we lived. Yes, I was robbed of many opportunities. But today, I am responsible for my actions today. I have the responsibility to recognize the lies I tell and reject that as normal. I can't go back and make my childhood different. But I can make my future what I want it to be.

Thanks for your comment, no matter how late. I hope that some COH still stuck in the hoard will read your comment and find hope that whatever their situation, there is a possibility that what they've been told by circumstance or words about their value, about their talent, about their simply not truth.

Each of us have infinite worth. Fortunately, some of us have learned this now and recognize that our parents have never had the power to decrease it, or even had knowledge of our worth in the first place.

If you are still stuck in the hoard, know that your value is not related to your situation, who your parents are, or even what they say about you. You matter. Always have, and always will. Find your people, those who know this and celebrate it. We exist and you are welcome!

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