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on little lies, white lies, the big stuff, and all that comes between.

i still remember the first lie i told.

or, well, the first lie i was conscious of telling.

it was mid-afternoon, after school, and i sat perched atop one of the high bar stools framing the kitchen counter. it spun from side to side and i sat, legs folded under, slowly moving and swaying, a yellow box of nilla wafters in front of me.

my mother had made it clear that i was only to have some (alarmingly) low number of them. no more than three, or some such.


(i had a really good mom. among the best).

i ate three. then three more. then probably three more after that. and on and on and on and on and on.

and i remember her coming back into the kitchen,

did you have just the three?

yup. just three.

and there it was. the first lie told.

i don't remember is if she knew. probably. but what i do remember is the stomach-churning it elicited--and how that had nothing to do with too much sugar.

i am a tremendously lousy liar. i don't do it. perhaps that's the dictate of some strict, and often too-rigid moral compass, but i just don't have a knack for it.

no talent, no skill.

every once and a while i'll give it a go, but when i do i make a face that very clearly says i am lying and you know i am, don't you?

just the other day my mother asked me if i'd taken some pill i was supposed to.

yup.                                silence.

you're lying, aren't you?


even over the phone it's clear.

i cannot tell a lie and my face hides nothing. more than the question of morality, i think i just want to live authentically.

life is so hard, you know? filled with too many struggles and failures not to embrace them. i just don't want to diminish who i am by lying about it. even if it's a small lie.

and yet. i am deeply fearful. so i omit things. often, i omit.

lying by omission, i suppose that's not much better. and i conceal by structuring the truth in such a way that it's fragmented and unclear. or purposefully misleading.

i consider myself a deeply private person.

bet you didn't think that--didn't know that. hell, here is all this stuff that i've written and revealed and it's as truthful as it can be, and yet, i consider myself a deeply private, often secretive, person.

how can that be? not sure. but that's how i feel.

i parcel out only bits and pieces,  hold the larger truth so close to the chest. i fold truth over on itself so often that the end result is something entirely muddled--language in code.

very rarely does someone stumble upon something i'm unwilling to speak about, but when they do, i smile, side-step, unfurl silence like a ribbon between us, and re-direct. a magician's game.

however, if someone were to ask me something, point blank, i would tell the truth. stripped down, i would answer honestly.

yes. or no. and all the words in between.

and because that's all i know i cannot conceive that other's might do it differently.

that a lie might pass between.

tell me, do you ever tell lies? how do you do it? no judgement here, i'm honestly just tremendously curious. 


Mish Lovin' Life said...

I'm like you. I'm a horrible liar and every time one has come out, I get the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach. So I came to the conclusion that as hard as I think the truth might be to say, it's far better than having to sit with the guilt of lying.

Anonymous said...

it's a good thing to be a terrible liar. I like it when it's all out there. Like you, I remember the first lie I told...I didn't wash my hands after I peed.

Laura Marie said...

You may as well be talking about me — maybe it's this push-and-pull, share-and-secrets quality that we understand about each other? Well, one of the things anyway :)

And Meg, this is one of the best things you've ever written: "i parcel out only bits and pieces, hold the larger truth so close to the chest. i fold truth over on itself so often that the end result is something entirely muddled--language in code."

... The folding of truth. It's that — that is what I understand so well.

Alissa said...

I recently wrote a post about working on being more honest in my current relationship. I also feel very uncomfortable straight-out lying to someone but I am guilty of obscuring the truth and leaving out details that feel too revealing. I am continually processing my past and working through those things I don't feel proud of. So for me, lying is very related to self-acceptance.

Helen said...

When I was younger I used to lie a lot about silly things that didn't matter, what I'd done at school, to my friends about my family, all seemingly nonsensical at the time but i think I was trying to sound more likable or interesting. With age I came to realise there was no need, my life is just fine without lying about it! In my teens and early twenties I'd find myself lying about what I'd eaten, mainly to myself. All the part of my shameful feelings of my disordered eating. Now I realise there's nothing wrong with being honest, even if it makes me uncomfortable sometimes. Life is too short to lie to anyone, especially yourself. Thanks for making me think.

jenn said...

Reading this brings up so many things that have happened to me recently, involving other people's lies. It was one of those situations where you don't know who is telling the truth and who isn't. I wish never to be in that type of situation again.

I fully believe honesty is the best way to go. I admit, I lie sometimes, I think most people do. But I am by no means a constant lier, fibber, or what have you.

Good thought provoking post.

Sierra ShaneĆ” said...

I am just like you! I cannot tell a lie, point blank I just can't do it. It's like I don't know how. But I do sometimes leave out details when I am afraid as well. "Lying by omission" I suppose. I know exactly how you feel.

Jennifer said...

I'm awful at it. But sometimes I feel like my omission-lies are the very fabric of my life. Then again, I'm not even sure what the truth is.

coley said...

I am the worst liar - even when I'm just trying to be funny and sarcastic. As soon as the lie comes out, I get nervous which means I start giggling incessantly. It's horrible, but at least my husband doesn't have to worry about infidelity because he'd read it all over my face.

courtneykearns said...

I lie to myself, mostly... Fake myself into believing that I cannot be the person whom I work towards, and it never serves me well. Catching myself, and treating my spirit with the truth is a better alternative.

Madeline said...

I am the same way! I cannot lie to people. My mom always said there are "good lies" and "bad lies". Good lies are the ones that everyone will eventually know and it doesn't hurt anyone. Like a surprise party. Bad lies are the ones you keep inside and they eat you alive! I always thought that was good advice.

Anonymous said...

Hey Meg, I loved this post. I lie very well. And frequently. I don't think this is a problem on it's own, I think it's a byproduct of my eating disorder. Most of the lies started about my ED, both to myself and others. As this has gone on (a little over 5 years) I've slipped further and further from the person I know I should be. Now more of my lies are about the kind of person I am. My family is on the other coast and the lies I tell them about my daily life are what I imagine I would be doing if I didn't have something else controlling my life. To lie well you just have to compartmentalize your life. Or maybe playing a role is a better example. I am a slightly different character depending on who I am with and each of those characters have different truths. I know that sounds ridiculous, but you know how ED messes with your thinking.

I loved this post and love, love your blog.

kate said...

this: "however, if someone were to ask me something, point blank, i would tell the truth. stripped down, i would answer honestly."
so beautiful.

and this: :i parcel out only bits and pieces, hold the larger truth so close to the chest. i fold truth over on itself so often that the end result is something entirely muddled--language in code."
you're right i didn't know. what you share... it's what always what we seem to need to hear. keep going.

when i was a teen i lied by omission and carried on a relationship for six months with my then boyfriend with half of my family not knowing. lots of lies. lots of tears. it kept going for another three years.

Mee-shell. said...

I guess you could say I'm a compulsive liar. I lie a lot, about a lot if things. And it's done before I even know it, before I've even made a conscious decision about whether i'm gonna tell the truth or not.

It's about if I've done this and that already (yes... but actually it's no), but also on what I did on a certain day (a lot... while actually nothing). And I can make up a thousand excuses for canceling an appointment, because I feel that the true reason isn't adequate enough, while in fact, it might sure just be).

I'd like to stop this habit, I really do. But I always feel like my doing isn't worth.. doing. So I make something up that will make the story worth hearing.

Susie said...

I, too, omit (and am very private). At this point, it's more of a habit than something I do intentionally and it drives my boyfriend literally crazy. It's something I'm trying to work on, but it's hard.
Similarly, or not, I find myself lying to my mom about things I know she won't like the real answer to. It's just easier :/

Erin said...

I've attempted lying many times, especially when I was younger, but that sinking feeling always made me sick and then I was too nervous to admit that I had lied -- like that time when I told my dad that my mom said I could have a cough drop, but she didn't actually say that. I got caught. And when I was caught, I felt embarrassed and ashamed and sheepishly had to admit that I'd done wrong. That was the worst. I guess eventually I tired enough of those little lies that I couldn't fathom telling a whopper. (Maybe it's a good thing I never told a whopper.) And then when someone finally lied to me, I learned how it felt to be on the opposite side... even worse than being the liar. I think it's human nature to dance around the truth sometimes, especially when the truth doesn't always satisfy, but we learn as we go.

wildchild said...

i do. i tell lies all the time. about nothing important really- just a made up story or a minor detail that was different in real life. i'm not sure why i do it. i never think about it until the words have crossed my lips.

so it scares me a lot of times, but i'm a professional liar. but then there are times when people call me on my bullshit and i don't even bother trying to cover it up. i confuse myself.

nancy said...

I am an absolutely awful liar, too... but I am a very - somewhat stubbornly - open person. I believe in putting all my cards out on the table, and allowing people to deal with them as best they know how. Life's too short to play games - to cover yourself against potential embarrassment or reveal - to lie.

Francesca Forzoni said...

I started lying to stop arguements between my boyfriend and I. He used to get mad when my friends called or got in contact when we were together, my friends being guys. So I learnt that every time I would show him my phone, tell him who the message was from etc and be honest - I would get yelled at. So I started lying and hiding it. The arguements stopped for a little while but started about other things. I feel like I lie a lot now - I'm not good at it or happy that I do it - and does it makes things easier - no it makes them worse.. so then why do we feel the need to do it?

Jessie said...

Hi Meg,
Love your blog - it inspires my own (I always try to give credit where it's due in those instances) You are such a gifted writer. I hope you never stop. Your passages are so lovely and poetic.

I have this great tendency to push people away, protecting myself from exposure. It's not lying outright. It's hiding from within. In ways, I feel though, by not being forthcoming, I am lying to myself as well. I am not willing to own the formative forces in my life. Or I am not willing to burden others with the whole of who I am... I don't lie, I lock myself in. Then shut out the others.

katilda said...

I love this line: "i think i just want to live authentically." I'd rather be straight with people, messy or not. Not in like the "I'm going to insult you and blame it on an honest and blunt nature" kind of way....but more in the, "if we're going to communicate we're REALLY going to communicate" kind of way. I don't think I have enough guile in me to not feeling guilty about lying to people anyway. For this reason, I am a terrible prankster. Whenever a friend tries to get me to trick someone "because it would be funny," I always decline...

Anonymous said...

I lie. And I'm good at it. Not about important things, never to close friends or my lover. But I do. Mainly to people like receptionist or police officers.

What's funny is that I'm the exact opposite of you--not private at all. In fact, I have a hard time setting boundaries and I tend to reveal my deepest secrets at the slightest provocation...

Elizabeth said...

i want to live authentically. i love that wording. it's a new goal.

Lottie said...

I am sorry to say I probably lie more than I should. Not massive lies but small white lies to keep the peace. What is the point of saying I prefered them with long hair when now they have a pixie crop?

And sometimes I omit the facts: that the words stung when that person said them; or the dig they seemed to imply; or the fact I want to scream and yell at them; or tell them how they disappointed me and how I have spent to much time reliving the conversations in my head.

I don't know why I do it as I am not scared of confrontation, if anything I prefer it. Prefer saying the words that are on loop in my head, honestly presenting how I am feeling and not apologising for it--firmly putting the ball back in their court.

But something stops me--putting someone I love in a difficult situation, or making things a million times worse; or hearing the words that I am being overly sensitive--so I lie.

But I have been trying to stop being "diplomatic" and instead I just want to be honest. If they can't tke it then it obviously wasn't meant to be.

communikate. said...

I'm the worst liar. My face always gives me away. Even white little lies like "does this look good on me?" fail on my part.

Mackenzie said...

i am such a terrible liar! i am physically incapable of doing it. but what i do do, is exaggerate and make things seem more ridiculous for the sake of a story. not in writing, thank god, but just in speaking.

Kate said...

I hate lying. And I hate dishonesty. I would say I'm a pretty good liar. I've never been caught in a lie. But I hate the way it feels coming out of my mouth.

More often than not I just don't tell the whole truth. I tell most of the truth and sometimes make a little up.

I also omit things. I consider myself very private. I feel horrible when I don't tell my friends things I should, but it's hard for me to open up like that.