Life changed me despite my best efforts.
“How are you?” my friend asks, reaching out to give me a hug.
“I’m good,” I say, wrapping my arms around her. “How are you?”
Before she can respond, my conscience punches me in the gut.
You’re not good, an internal voice screams at me. You’re a liar!
How did I get here? Let me tell you.
Striving To Be Honest
I pride myself on my honesty.
If you ask my opinion, you’re going to get it, even if it feels brutally honest.
Do you look awful in that dress? I’m afraid so. Put it back on the rack.
Are those skinny jeans a cool look for you? Come on, man, you’re 50. There’s nothing skinny about you. Ditch the jeans.
It’s amazing my friends still come around, but people long for genuine honesty in this world.
My clients know there are lines I won’t cross with their taxes. I’ll use whatever numbers they give me, but I won’t change a return or incorrectly answer any question just to give them a tax break. When, occasionally, a client comes in wanting a dishonest tax preparer, I waste no time in showing them to the door.
Honesty, in most areas, is my way of life.
Struggling With Identity
With my health and the reality of how I feel, I’ve lost the ability to be honest.
Maybe it’s all the head tilts I’ve received over the years. Perhaps it’s the nagging voice inside that tells me no one believes I’m suffering. After all, none of my conditions have visible symptoms. Maybe it’s my overwhelming need to not be the center of attention.
I can’t say where the lying started. That truth left my mind years ago. Now, I rarely tell the truth when people ask me how I’m doing.
Benefiting From Lying
There is a positive side to lying about how you feel.
Years ago, whenever I told anyone I was fine, my mother played a twisted game where she went around behind me and told everyone I was anything but fine. Everyone started doubting me when I said “fine,” so I switched to saying I was good.
A funny thing happened. By changing the word, I often felt better.
No, my aches and pains didn’t vanish, and the voices in my head never shut up, but putting a smile on my face helped me view the word more positively. Telling people I was great made me feel a little better about all the things causing me pain.
At the very least, by deceiving others about how I felt, I didn’t have their compassionate eyes looking at me like I was living in a box on the street.
I’m not hurting anyone by holding my truth to myself, but telling any lie is a slippery slope.
Slipping to the Negative Side of Lying
One of my former bosses once told me he was a professional liar.
I wish I had turned and run away when he said it, but I laughed, thinking it was a joke. After working with him for a few years, it became painfully clear how much lying controlled his life. He was not only good at lying, but he couldn’t get through a day without it.
Telling a little lie is easy, but it often leads to more.
Allowing yourself to be dishonest in one area of your life makes other shady practices more inviting.
The other negative of lying is it feels wrong.
I expect honesty from all of my closest friends. The fastest way to lose my friendship is to lie to me. I hate lying, yet, when describing how I feel, I tell a lie almost every time.
You could call me a man of intense contradictions.
Being Forced Into Lying
My bipolar disorder came in my early twenties.
Nothing changes your life faster than spending 10 days in a psychiatric hospital for a failed suicide attempt. Overnight, everyone in my life looked at me with knowing eyes, both afraid and ashamed of my reality.
I became the bipolar guy, and for a long time, I hated it.
Then, some years ago, my physical health was rapidly declining. After two years of medical tests and seeing specialists, I received my Familial Mediterranean Fever diagnosis. I saw the eyes of my friends change again, and despised every time they nodded their head in sympathy.
Yes, living with a mental and chronic illness is awful, but it’s only a tiny part of who I am. It’s a circumstance I deal with, not the sole definition of my life.
So, I started lying.
Living With My Reality
Really, you could say society forced me into being dishonest. The only way to have conversations on topics other than my health was to convince everyone how good I was doing.
Wearing masks is part of having a mental illness like bipolar. Some you wear to protect yourself while others protect those you love.
I tell people I’m good when I’m nowhere close to that reality. With a wide smile, I say I’m feeling fine, despite every muscle in my body screaming in pain. Even when insomnia creates circles around my eyes black as night, you’ll rarely hear me say how bad I really feel.
Chronic illness has turned me into a liar, and for now, I think I’m okay with that.
Until next time, keep fighting.