I’ve been coming to terms with a pretty bad habit. This is another one of those sobriety lessons I wasn’t really sure I could write about, mainly because I have a hard time fessing up to it. I’ve been able to talk about it with some of my closest confidants, and in talking about it, I decided to be brave and share.
I was with my sister yesterday (my closest of confidants), and this topic came up because I was re-capping a conversation I had with another person, in which the same topic came up. I oh-so casually mentioned that maybe it was time to write about it, and my brainiac sister simply responded, “you should, it’s something I think a lot of people can relate to”, and that blew my mind.
For the longest time, I thought I was the only person with this bad habit. I was so scared to admit to it because I was certain I would lose most of my friends and all of my acquaintances when they found out that I was secretly a horrible person with this nasty, rotting skelton in my closet.
So after I picked my brain up from my sister’s bedroom floor and collected my thoughts, I decided it was definitely time to own up to the fact that, I’m not always honest.
I think I can pretty much pin point when this bad habit developed. I was a kid who required a lot of attention. I’ve always just been more comfortable in the spotlight, even if that spotlight was just shining while I talked my parents’ ears off at the dinner table. I remember listening to someone else speak at the table, for as long as I could, all the while thinking, “I need something to top this”. If I didn’t have an experience that day to talk about, then I’d make one up. Now, I wouldn’t just pull something out of thin air. I would take a situation and just make it more exciting. For example, if I got into a fight with a friend at school, the story couldn’t end with “and we just ignored each other all day”, there needed to be more drama to captivate my audience, so the story ended with “we had a screaming match on the playground and she shoved me in the sandbox”. That way I wasn’t completely lying. I was exaggerating. My story was “inspired by true events”.
Seems innocent enough right? I think it would have been just that, an innocent phase, but life seemed to have a different, more chanllenging plan. (Doesn’t it always?)
When I was still pretty young, I was introduced to a new person who would become a main character in the story of my life. I was told this person would be a role model for me, someone who would protect me, and someone who cared about me. This person turned out to be the exact opposite of all those things. I spent a lot of my life trying to be good enough for this person and wanting so badly for them to accept me and love me the way they were supposed to. But, no matter what I did, good or bad, and no matter what I said, fact or fiction, this person wouldn’t budge. They had decided not to let me in, and there was nothing I could do to change their mind. Years of struggling culminated one night when this person finally said to me, “I don’t love you”.
I had felt a lack of love from them for years, but hearing them say it, did something to me.
When someone tells you they don’t love you because you aren’t good enough or because you don’t deserve it; those words sink into your bones, and they rest there, and every now and then, you feel them stir inside of you. They wake up long enough to whisper hurtful things into your ear and remind you of what it felt like to have your fifteen-year-old heart completely broken.
In an effort to surpress those memories and never get hurt again, I started catering to everyone around me. I became the person people wanted to be around. I put my own personality and needs to the side and focused on how to make a room full of people love me, even if those people were complete strangers. I developed a thick skin, a strong sense of humor, and loose morals, and I got the results I wanted. People loved me.
Problem was, I wasn’t really fond of myself, but drinking while lying quieted that pesky little voice telling me “you are better than this”.
Then the real fun began. I started waking up after a night of storytelling wondering “what the hell did I say last night” and “will it come back to bite me in the ass”. I started thinking of what I’d say if I were ever confronted by my web of lies. I spent more time living in “what-if’s” than I did facing my reality, which is what I really should’ve been doing all along.
And realizing that, changed me. Coming to terms with my reality, my past and present reality, killed my urge to exaggerate or lie or tell stories because my reality is incredible. I have a lot and I am a lot and knowing that is enough. I am enough.
I’ve been purposely putting myself in more “uncomfortable” situations, where I would normally end up drinking and telling someone that Hilary Clinton was my Godmother (true story, I said that once). While in these situations, sipping from a glass of bubble water (seltzer, whatever); I always take a second to look around and realize that I’m not uncomfortable at all because for the first time in my life, I am completely comfortable with who I am.
I came home from a party a few weeks ago, where I had a moment like I just described, and I was feeling really good about it. So good, that I sat down and had a heart-to-heart with my fifteen-year-old self. I told her not to waste anymore time trying to be something someone else can love because in the end, the greatest love you will ever feel is the love you have for yourself… and I am worthy of that love, honestly.