The day I realized I was a liar I had just narrowly avoided being caught by his girlfriend at their home with my pants down. It was more like a bucket of cold water than being brained by an apple, but the effect was similar. Eureka!
This particular epiphany was followed closely by the realization that I was a bad person. A big one. I’m not sure how I was able to operate under the assumption of moral ‘goodness’ for so long when all fingers pointed in the opposite direction, but it certainly proved the power of self delusion.
I don’t hurt people, I don’t say mean things or steal or do drugs. None of that stuff. I’m sure everyone lies, I’m sure everyone is so insecure they have to sleep with their ex-boyfriends even though he’s in a new relationship. This lie had become almost a prayer, I recited it so often.
Yeah, I didn’t go around shooting people and I didn’t shop lift or start bar fights, but that sure as hell didn’t make me a good person. Good people didn’t sleep with men in relationships, didn’t lie to said man in hopes of ruining said relationship. I was in my bedroom, I’d taken off work a little early to meet with him, and I was sitting in my desk chair. My hands were shaking and I felt sick.
Did I have a single friend, relative or acquaintance that I hadn’t lied to? Even my closest friends didn’t know the whole truth, about my failed marriage, about my family and especially not about my ex-boyfriend. No wonder I didn’t really feel close to anyone, no wonder I felt alone. I had built myself a prison, one lie, one selfish decision, one rationalized moral divergence, at a time. My whole life was a sham. I had lied so often and so effectively I had almost, almost convinced myself of them.
I wondered if this was what dying was like in the sense that my entire life seemed to flash before my eyes. I tried to discover when my path had veered off into the darkness. Had I always been a liar or was it something I’d developed along the way? Did it really matter?
All of this was headed by the knowledge that if I were to come ‘clean’, fess up to all my friends, I probably wouldn’t have any left. But, I reasoned, considering none of them truly knew me, had they ever really been my friends? I hadn’t given them the chance to find out. I began to see how someone could lose their entire lives in being someone they weren’t, dredged down in fear and desperation. I realized that I had shackled myself so neatly and so securely that there was no way out, eventually my castle was going to come crumbling down around me. I knew enough, I could admit enough, to know that the truth, inevitably, always comes out in the end.
Would I continue on as I had been, layering and fortifying my little lair until I slipped up, until someone was perceptive enough to look just a little bit closer? Or would I choose the moment of my unmaking, would I rally what little dignity and morality I had left and be honest, starting with myself.
“I’m a bad person,” I said aloud, tasting the words, getting a feel for their weight. I felt simultaneously cold inside yet somehow lighter.
“I am a liar,” I said. I was shaking now; my body warring between crying and vomiting. Maybe both.
“I have hurt others.” It felt surreal, my mind automatically trying to object. I don’t hurt people, I don’t say mean things or steal or do drugs. None of that stuff. I’m sure everyone lies, I’m sure everyone is so insecure they have to sleep with their ex-boyfriend-
I squashed this mind set. I shredded the words mentally. I was crying, which felt wrong somehow. My misery was of my own creation, did I have any right to cry about it?
“I don’t want to be this person anymore,” I said.
It was the first step on a very long, and lonely road. But whenever I got low, so low it didn’t seem worth it anymore, I’d remember that moment, and it reminded me of what low was. Low is losing all faith in yourself, is realizing who you are under the layers of your own pretentious bullshit, low is living a life that isn’t your own.