Liars and the lying lies they tell

This blog post: hanging from a telephone wire intrigues me.

Why do the liars lie?

I disagree with Ms. Kennedy.

The liars lie for the same reason that addicts lie. They are not lying to you or to me. They are lying to themselves FIRST. They want to believe what they say.

“My marriage is perfect.”

“I love all my children the same.”

“I never make an error.”

“I talk to my mother every Sunday morning because we are so close and love each other so much.”

“I can see right in to your head.”

“I don’t care about anything.”

“I am happy all the time.”

Whew. A totally easy list to come up with and I could go on and on and on…. and so could you. When someone says something like this… I am always (fill in blank) or I never (fill in blank)… stop. Think. They want to believe it. They might like you to believe it too. They might even kind of know that it’s a lie and very convincing one but the best liars have convinced themselves.

I saw it in clinic all the time. Over and over and over.

It’s the glitter that gives it away. When they come in all glittery and sparkly and their eyes shine and they are too beautiful for words and they charm your socks right off…. check your wallet. They are an addict or a manipulator or they WANT SOMETHING FROM YOU. And there are people who just do it automatically. They lie all the time.

Whatever. When someone reminds me of my mother or my sister… or the other extremely well trained enablers on the maternal side of my stupid family…. ooooooo. The person has my full focused attention. Which thing is the lie? What do they want? What are they going to try to get out of me?

When I trained in buprenorphine treatment, the guy (enabler) that I was dating was horrified. “You can’t treat addicts!” he said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“They LIE.”

I laughed. “ALL patients lie. There are studies. They lie about whether they are taking their blood pressure medicine. They lie about how much salt they are eating. They lie about exercising. The first question I ask if someone’s blood pressure is too high, is “Are you taking the medicine?” More than half the time I get a sheepish, “Yeah, well, no, I ran out of it two weeks ago.” “Yeah, well, then I can’t tell if it’s working or not, can I? And you’ll have to redo the stupid labs once you have taken it for two weeks and come back for another check.” “Ok, ok, I get it.” If you lie to your doctor, well, you might get hurt. Tell them about the pills your friend gave you, tell them about the supplements, and that infected toe? Might help if you tell the truth about it. Even though it was when you um inserted well we were just, like he has an infected um. That is important information and changes which antibiotics I use plus now I want to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea and same sex male so we gotter talk about HIV prophylaxis and this is a 15 minute clinic visit? I am now running late and annoyed. You need another visit in 1-2 days or else I gonna hospitalize yo dumb self.

And WHY do people, and especially people in addiction, lie to themselves?

Damage. ACE scores. Adverse Childhood Experience Scores. They wish that they were that close to their mother. They long for a perfect marriage. They were beaten in secret by the perfect father. The famous man, their grandfather, sexually abused them. The list is endless.

And how do we help? The person I just stopped dating told me that his children said to him “My picker’s broke.” Our pickers are not really broken. We are attracted to the people who can teach us.

In the book Passionate Marriage, the author writes about how we are attracted to the people who have what we lack. What we want to learn. What we are afraid of. What we need to learn. I needed to learn how to really look at anyone I date with my full on intuition right away and also that it is seriously Not Nice of me to get curious, activate my inner scientist and stick around. I recognize the projection on me at some point and then the scientist in me is intrigued. Really? The most recent one said that inside me there is a sweet innocent joyous tiny girl.

Well, I thought. No, not really. There certainly is a baby. But it’s a baby honey badger or a baby Iron Bitch Alien Lizard. Don’t care what you call it. But it is about as sweet as a pissed off porcupine or skunk. Polecat. Octopoggles done got us! Squirting ink and sliding into an impossibly small space and escaping from the acquarium over and over until the captors let me go…..

And that was actually the moment I should have spoken up. Calmly. Kindly. “Um, no. I was never a sweet innocent joyous tiny girl. I was bathed in antibodies to tuberculosis in the womb and no doubt alcohol and my parents were newly married and I came out saying, “What is happening now? Some new torture? Augh! Bright lights! Is there food? I am really really hungry. Feed me or I will eat YOU.” And then I lost my mother for nine months so that I would not catch tuberculosis from her and die. I didn’t really understand it. I thought people kept giving me away and that you couldn’t trust those evil adults.

In the end this is all actually necessary, says the Passionate Marriage author. WHAT? WHAT? Well, in a truly loving relationship, both people will withdraw the projection. The projection is the “falling in love” where the person is golden, perfect, your true love. No, they aren’t. But you love that aspect of them that you want/need/can’t do. True love is when you withdraw the projection and you see the real person and you love them.

It isn’t easy. But people do it. Birds do it, squirrels do it, trees do it, even elementary bees do it… let’s do it… let’s fall in love.

10 thoughts on “Liars and the lying lies they tell

  1. Lou Carreras says:

    Most garden variety lies are lacking in imagination, are poorly delivered and can’t be sustained. Politicians grasp this on an instinctual level, and act accordingly. But most people low ball the process.
    Just saying “I love you” was an example I particularly loathed because it was usually followed by behavior that said the opposite within a few weeks.

  2. P.S. I love your description “glittery.” Yep. There is no charm like the charm of an addict who’s in the middle of manipulation. Some of his friends and our family members remember my brother as being the charming, talented, charismatic, star-crossed fantastic wonder of my family. For them I’m kind of a consolation prize, and why? Because I’m not dead. It’s amazing to me. The marvelous con.

    • drkottaway says:

      I am so sorry about the brother. My sister is dead too, in 2012, but the things that she said continue to resonate. And it’s ironic: we are not to speak ill of the dead, so they become angels even if they were not angels at all.

      • It’s an incredible thing that we do not speak ill of the dead when the “ill” we would speak wouldn’t be “ill” at all, but the truth. I’m sorry about your sister. It’s hard because first we watch them throw themselves away (reject us, in a sense) and then they die and all chance of redemption is gone and our hope (on which we fed, a lie) is shattered. I’d give a lot to have my brother now but not that guy who was possessed by demons (essentially). <3

        • drkottaway says:

          Well, I got to tell my sister that I loved her anyhow even though she had done a lot of bad things. A LOT. She said she was bad, and I said, no, you did some really bad things. She lit up when I said I loved her anyway. Sigh. Sucks.

          • I didn’t know my brother had died. My aunt got a phone call from someone attempting to collect one of my brother’s bad debts and my cousin emailed me. I was “happy” when I learned he died in a hospital not on the street.

            And yeah. It sucks.

          • drkottaway says:

            I am so sorry. Working in the hospital sometimes we had dying patients who would not tell us if they had family, who were estranged, and the nurses and social workers and maintenance people were all they had. We tried to be as kind as possible.

          • I’m sure everyone was kind to him. In his wallet were my phone number and his daughter’s. At that point he’d made a choice and maybe took them out. I don’t know, but it’s OK. I’m not sad about his death. His life is the sad part. <3

  3. I am not sure we disagree. I’ve written about lying so often on my blog that I didn’t want to write about it any more, but I wanted to support RDP by posting. I didn’t want to get into the “why” partly because there are so many reasons. But…you are completely right that addicts lie all the time. I see it as the way the addiction has of keeping the addict in thrall. My mom and brother were both addicts and I was their “pawn” or enabler, another reason I didn’t really want to write about it. I’ve also dated, married, fallen in love with the broken parent. I think how long a person stays in that depends on their level of self-awareness. As for their being “real love” without the projection? I don’t know. The projection isn’t just a veil thrown by the lover onto the beloved. I think it’s also a cloak worn by the lover him/herself. Lover/beloved also applies to family members.

    I worked for a while counseling family members of addicts on the question of their own survival. It was interesting (and sad) how many of them were perfectly willing to sacrifice themselves, their happiness, pretty much everything, for the salvation of the addict, believe that they had anything to say about that. That is very twisted love and I know all about it. <3

    • drkottaway says:

      Working with addiction I framed it as thinking that the drug was in control and that they had lost their boundaries with the drug. So, I said cheerfully, my job is to be the boundary which means I will listen to you but I will check: urine drug screens and you will follow the rules because the rules are the boundaries. My job is to be the boundary until you regain yours. I had about 1/3 success rate with opiate folks. 1/3 would screen out on the phone and refuse the rules. 1/3 would relapse. The other third did really really well.

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