Today, my mother turns to me and asks if I think I might be turning into a pathological liar. I deflect with some poorly crafted joke, my usual go to defense mechanism, and say, “Do you think my lyre playing has improved? I’ve been really hoping to sound like some Greek epic type shit.”
She laughs, but it’s pained. And also, not a very funny joke. At all.
She throws the word “seriously” in front and asks the question again. Her voice cracks a bit, like the old wooden chair she used to rock me in when horrible night terrors plagued my childhood. There was that reoccurring one about a giant eyeball that was trying to eat me. It had already murdered my father, and now was after me. Weird, I know. But I can’t help from reading way too much into it now, with my father sitting in a mahogany box in our living room. Maybe I was some clairvoyant, having a psychic premonition of how much I would crave my own disappearance after my father died. And let’s face it, a giant eyeball chasing you is the last thing you really want when you’re seeking invisibility.
My mom clears her throat. I avoid eye contact, because those emeralds of hers have always been able to see the truth in my strikingly similar pair. She asks again, but this time, I know that it’s not really a question.
It’s a statement.
I respond, “No, of course not.”
And there it is, the first lie of the day.
To be honest, I’m not sure when this habit of lying first started. I was overflowing with honesty growing up. I warned all my friends that any secrets they told me, I was bound to tell my mom. I just didn’t know how to conceal truths, even if they weren’t my own. When I was 16, I only lasted about 48 hours before I came barreling in to see my mom, who was half asleep and under the influence of Ambien, and told her I had lost my virginity. I made her a promise when I started seeing my first boyfriend that I would wait. Not for marriage. Or a year. Or some sign from a higher power that I was ready and it was the right guy and time. No, she just wanted me to wait a little bit. Gain a tiny bit of clarity before giving every part of me to the first boy I had even kissed. I only waited a month. One month.
And of course, I went to bed that night and told myself I just wouldn’t tell her. I would lie, what could it possibly hurt? But there I was, 48 hours post-coitus and sobbing in her bed, apologizing. I wasn’t sorry for having sex, though in retrospect she was right and I wasn’t mentally or physically ready, but I was sick with the idea that I hadn’t been honest. I had disrespected her in a way I never wanted to.
I didn’t lie to my mom.
I didn’t lie to my friends.
I didn’t lie to myself.
But now, at twenty-two years of age and known for sharing brutal honesties on stages in front of strangers, I tell more lies than I do truths. And sure, they are often small. They are little pieces of lies that seem too docile to hurt anyone. They are social media approved. They are to avoid plans that require pants. They are to professors when I cannot get out of bed, but not from being hungover or lazy. They are to avoid telling people the depths of my depression. They are family emergencies. They are missed alarms. They are to my mother when she asks if I made an appointment to see my doctor.
Yes, I did.
They are to my therapist when she asks how I’m feeling.
They are to myself when I check in on how I’m feeling.
I know I’m not a bad person, but I’m just not sure when it became so easy to rewrite myself into all these different versions. I am editing what I want you to know. I am deleting posts. I am googling words. I am a thesaurus of whoever you want me to be.
Except for one heart-breaking truth I have never been able to hide:
I am so in love with a boy who has no idea just how big of a deal it is that I don’t know how to lie about it.
I don’t even want to try.