PREVIOUS: Why ACoAs Lie (Part 1)
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
3. UNTREATED ACoAs (cont)
At the same time ACoAs do the opposite. Yes, everyone lies sometimes & occasionally it’s the only safe recourse, but ACoAs tend to lie when it’s not actually necessary, useful or wise. We can lie by making up untruths OR by omitting important info at crucial times (may be considered passive-aggressive)
COMPULSION: Compulsive liars (CLs) do so as a persistent, reflexive way of responding to questions. They bend the truth about most things, important & unimportant, since honesty feels awkward & uncomfortable, while lying feels right.
• Lying usually develops in early childhood, growing up in an environment where telling the truth was dangerous or unacceptable. For the most part, CLs are not overly manipulative or cunning (unlike sociopaths). They do know they’re not being honest, but it’s a hard pattern to break & one that takes its toll on every relationship
PAST: Lying was often the only way to protect ourselves & get some needs met in a stressful environment. We were constantly told our emotions & observations were wrong or crazy, so we learned to hide them from others & sometimes even from ourselves. We understood very early that our parents really did not want to hear the truth, & so could save ourselves a lot of grief if we lied to them
Expl: Terry’s parents were restrictive & controlling, while being emotionally abusive & abandoning. As a teen she fell in love with a man she knew they would be violently opposed to, so she came up with a plan to see him whenever their scheduled meshed. From time to time she told her mother a few days ahead of a rendezvous that ‘next Tue’ she’d be at the library after school to study. Then every couple of days until then, she’d remind her mother about it so there would be no questions about her being late on those days. When Tue came Terry would get together with her guy. She was finally able to receive some desperately needed love & positive attention throughout her Senior year – by lying!
Lying TO Ourselves:
• from SHAME & S-H
– to deny what really happened to us at home, still believing we were the cause of all the trouble
– having a desperate need to not see the truth about our parents’ damage, mental illness, addiction…. & so maintain parental viewpoints about everything. By staying loyal to the family (symbiotic), we continue to believe their lies & then perpetuate them
– to hide from our fear & pain, minimize our profound sense of loss & run from feelings of hopelessness, we can stay in denial
– deny our abilities & good qualities, to agree with the ‘bad voice’
Lying TO Others
• from GRANDIOSITY (cover up S-H)
– need to pretend we’re ‘normal’, so no one will won’t how evil we are
– to present ourselves as wonderful, happy, smart, clever – not hurting, not wounded, not desperately lonely….
– using bravado to compensate for feeling stupid & worthless
– to cover up all the things we were never taught by our family (how the world actually works, what people expect of us, how to connect…)
• from PEOPLE-PLEASING
– to be a chameleon, changing ourselves into what we THINK you want
– to not say how we really feel about anything – or you’ll leave us
– to not hurt anyone else’s feelings, never admit to being hurt & angry, so whatever you do to us is OK, no matter how much we may hate it
– to not have to confront anyone or call them on their bad or abusive behavior, since we’re not sure we’re right & don’t want to get anyone angry at us, so end up MUTE (silence can also be a lie)!
✶ Because most of us are NOT pathological liars, we can gradually give up this character defect, as we:
– learn how it all started & that it was a defense mechanism which is no longer needed or useful
– are allowed to know who we are & be truthful about it
– develop boundaries from providing for our needs, wants, dreams & hopes
– choose healthier jobs, friends & lovers, who want to know our real opinions & feelings
– practice telling the truth & noticing that nothing bad happens to us!
NEXT: ACoAs – Early TRUST BETRAYAL