4.9

Why I Lied to Everyone All the Time & the Long Journey Back to Truth.

“Tell the truth and you won’t have to remember anything.” ~ Einstein

A friend of mine added, “By telling the truth you are honoring the fidelity of the moment.”

Truth, or in Sanskrit, satya, is a primary guiding yogic principle.

I haven’t always been a truth teller and I haven’t always liked myself that much either. It seems to me the two go hand in hand. The less I have liked myself, the more I have lied. On the other hand, the more at peace I am, the more truthful I become. Which came first? The chicken (self-esteem) or the egg (truth)?

I first remember lying when I was six or so, though I’m sure it happened much earlier than that. I lied about how much money I had received when my best friend told me she had been given $140 for her communion. I had gotten none, but I told her I had gotten $160. This was silly because I was not Catholic and had not gotten communion—a fact she quickly pointed out.

Instead of coming clean, I tacked on another lie. I told her my mother had let me take communion because she secretly wanted me to be Catholic. “But,” I said, “don’t tell anyone because if my father finds out he’ll kill me and my mom!” She never said anything, but she didn’t believe me either. I didn’t care. An imaginary $160 was better than nothing.

When I was eight my family moved to England. I told my new “friends” (quotation marks here because I did not actually have any friends) that I had once seen the Easter bunny, that the diamonds in my rhodium plated necklace were real, and that I knew how to ride horses bareback.

Who cares? I thought.

I knew we were moving back to the states in two years so I would never see any of them again—and I didn’t.

When I got back, the lies got worse. I was in the habit now, and when I was faced again with a bunch of unfamiliar kids I went straight back to my comfort zone. I grasped at anything and everything I could to make myself seem less dull, more fascinating or even better—more fantastic. I said my mom was a famous oratorio singer, that my dad drove a rare BMW, and that my dog was a retired show dog. There were grains of truth in all these statements, but they were not true.

This continued throughout high school and college. My ability to weave a tapestry of lies grew more refined, and it was rare that I was ever caught—doubted, yes, but not caught. I had come to allow my lies to define me; without them I was boring. At night, alone, I hated myself. I fantasized about coming clean. Oh, but I couldn’t! No one would understand, no one would ever believe me or love me ever again.

Then I moved to New York and I fell in love with a man. It was this man with whom I was first truthful, not because I wanted to be, but because he scared me and he could tell when I was lying. He told me that he knew. I told him everything, and breathed a long sigh of relief. It was over and I was fresh and clean.

Except later he began to use my truths against me. He told me I should be ashamed. He said he could help me and that he wanted to help. We stayed up night after coke fueled night, talking about how to fix me. Our life became so focused on this conversation and the drugs required to have it that I began to tell new lies. They were directed to my family about what I was doing, to the people I worked for about where I was and to my landlord about the rent. This went on for years because I was overwhelmed by fear—fear of not being loved.

I ended up where such people do.

The truth was that I was a stripper with a drug problem and an abusive boyfriend. My self-hatred had led me on a path which spiraled ever downward, darker and darker as it unfolded.

“You don’t love me. You don’t even like me!” was the first honest thing I shouted. I didn’t care who heard me: my guy, my friends, or my family. I didn’t care because I was right. Why should they like me? Why should they love me? Except they did love me. For some unknown reason, they did.

My boyfriend didn’t though and he was left behind—dead now, from lies he told himself. Once I realized that, as flawed as I was, I was still loved by people, and things became easier.

I lie awake some nights and ask myself, “Who am I? What am I doing? Am I doing it right?”

I don’t know the answers. My willingness to end a thought with a question speaks of progress and instead of filling in the blanks with artificial reasoning, I let myself wonder.

Now I am boring. I’m a middle-aged mom and housewife who teaches yoga and blogs a little here and there. That’s one version of me anyway.

Another version is that I’m a powerful force with a heart that is easily captivated by miracles. I am a being who is one with all the beauty of the world and as such, an integral part of it. Not that I’m going to go around mentioning that at Sunday brunch. People might think I was bragging.

My reality is somewhere in between. I am all things magical and mundane, just like all of us.

Now when I feel the urge to lie, I know something is wrong and I’m hurting somehow. Yet, it’s the easiest thing in the world to simply say, I’m hurting, then tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may. After all, if I can offer myself empathy in the face of my own pain, what can’t I do?

There is power. There is love.

 

 

Erica Leibrandt is a certified Yoga instructor, student of Buddhism, vegan chef and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children, Erica spends her time trying to apply the principles of Yoga to real life. Between teaching Yoga, holding vegan cooking seminars, writing and cycling she spends her time as a taxi service to her children, being walked by her dogs, and trying to dream up an alternative to doing the laundry. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and you can never dance too much.

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Assistant Ed: Dana Gornall/Ed: Brianna Bemel

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Sarah Oct 25, 2015 1:04am

Thank-you so much for sharing this. I used to be the same way.
I was raised by a single (teenaged when I was born) mother who was often distant or just physically not there (I started staying home alone at the age of 8), and had a seldom present, though abusive when present father. My parents were both estranged from their families and so we were very isolated. We used to move a lot, and after every move (and new school), my lies because more fantastic.
In elementary school I convinced several of the young girls that I was a real witch with magic powers. In junior high, at a different school, I told everyone I had a really loving family; parents that were together and two younger siblings, and the reason that they never met my parents was because the were always busy with them. Come high school, I was telling everyone that my mother was from Ireland and that we went back all of the time, to a large, supportive, wealthy family.
In college, I told everyone I was already married and had a small son at home, of course in reality, I lived alone. I told them that I was from Canada and that I had moved there for my husbands work. This was all very isolating and I had no real friends, because I never allowed anyone to get to know me. I couldn't have people over because they would realize that nothing I has said was true. I tried to be seen as little as possible in public, and really just kept to myself.
I suppose I started lying to protect myself from others knowing about my home situation and then it just became a really bad habit. Come college I just didn't want anyone to know how lame I perceived myself to be. By the end of college, I really despised myself. It took moving away and until my late 20s, and finally getting both my mother and father out of my life to accept who I really was and to be honest about that with myself and other people.

jen Jul 30, 2013 9:25pm

Awesome article. Very close to my truth, which I am just finding after too many years of hiding. Thank you.

Maren Jul 30, 2013 8:07pm

This is an awesome article. Thank you for having the courage to tell the truth so that others might have the courage to do the same. Very inspired!

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Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed psychotherapist, registered yoga teacher, published author, and imperfect mom. Visit her at PsycheFinder, her new website; the only site that finds your mental health professional for you.