Thursday, June 9, 2022

Autism Answer: Quitting Lying Meant Learning The Truth


My sister and I (then)

My sister and I were tall-tale tellers as little girls. We loved to invent entire worlds of reality and put ourselves in important roles at the center of them. We shared some of these stories with friends and cousins, insisting we were truly as fascinating and valuable as our stories suggested. I don't know about my sister, but I honestly believed we were being believed. 
As we got a little older both my sister and I quit lying. If I'm remembering correctly, my sister did so in more of a slow weaning herself off way. Me, I quit cold turkey. As I would do with my unhealthy addictions later in life, I didn't try to balance it out or dabble when it made sense, I instead decided absolutely no. None. Never. Nope. 
Now, I have quite a few things this way. Makeup. Smoking. Alcohol. And with them it was less complicated than lying. Sure, I fell off the wagon a few times with those addictions also, but hardly. And quitting was, mostly, simple.
Not so with lying. Partly, I suppose, because it was my first time quitting something. Partly, because it was a habit I had honed in all my environments. It had followed me everywhere. But, mainly, it was oh so challenging because to quit lying I needed to know the truth. But the truth - who I was, what I wanted, where my skills were - had largely been invented to impress. I hadn't taken time to figure out the truth and, in fact, hadn't thought it was of real value. I wanted to be like the stories I read and the songs that moved me. I wanted to be a story that made people feel, dance, change. So I tried to make me up as such. 
But lying, I had noticed, did not give me the feeling of those stories. Instead, it gave me the feeling of denying them. Of faking it. Of wanting to be an important story and desperately pretending. 
So I quit cold turkey. But I didn't stop. Sometimes, because I fell of the wagon. But mostly, because I didn't know the truth. 
I was trying, truly truly truly trying, to dig down to where I was, to where my beliefs and feelings and dreams were, so I could always tell the truth. Some I found easily, most I spent years and years discovering and tweaking. 
Lying, to me, felt like denying myself. Felt painfully duplicitous. I had a belief that being wise, which was something I wanted to be, and being kind, which was something I also wanted to be, and being a good influence on the world, something I extra badly wanted to be, especially as a parent, meant being authentic, in touch with my simple self, and learning to change, to grow different when that different was in line with what I believed was right. 
Hence, every lie - big or small - meant I was not wise, kind, or a good influence. It meant I didn't like me enough to say what was true. And since I am me it doesn't make any sense whatsoever to be someone I don't like. I have the power to be a me I like and not doing so is cowardly. 
I am now sometimes honest to the point of ridiculousness. It can be challenging for me to give a simple question a simple answer because I'm in the habit of taking ten hours to follow all my thoughts to the core of the truth of the answer. People are often sorry they ever asked me, "What song are you in the mood for?" 
And I still sometimes lie. I recently said, "I don't have to pee badly, we can keep going," when I really did have to pee badly but I didn't want to make our group stop to pee. And yes, worse lies too. Not even all that long ago. But I then told the truth. 
I don't like lies. For me. However, interestingly, I don't worry much about lies others tell. I would rather people tell me the truth but mainly because it's more relevant and insightful to build on honesty. And where my children are concerned I hope for the truth more because I want so badly for them to feel they can be truthful with me. 
I can't know what it means to others, lies and lying. So if they are lying it isn't for me to say how good or bad that is. I'm fine working with what I'm given. 
But me? I can't allow lies from me. When they happen, and they do, I get to work figuring it out; seeking the truth, exploring the reason I lied, making necessary changes, and telling the truth.
My sister and I told some interesting tales when we were little. If you remember a couple of girls wearing pretty nightgowns to school and explaining it was because we were angles from heaven here on earth to take notes and report back, and these pretty nightgowns were our heavenly attire, well, nice to see you again! 
But now we both work at living our lives with truth. In line with our beliefs, values, personalities, and preferences. Which, we've discovered, is not only more comfortable and pretty, but also far more fascinating. There are more layers, more sensational stories, in discovering and living our own truths than either of us could have ever imagined! 
And guess what?
That's the truth. 
Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
My sister and I (now-ish)