**Good song to listen to while reading**
(Not Quite) Little Lies
My mother once told me that it was okay to tell a little, white lie. She told me that unlike Pinocchio, my nose would not grow, and I would not be punished. Her only caveat was that it had to be a small lie, an insignificant one, one that was being told for the right reasons. As long as the justification was there, for example, sparing someone else’s feelings, then I would not be punished for telling a lie.
What my mother never told me was what would happen if I lied to myself, if I told myself a small lie in order to spare my own feelings. I did not think there would be consequences, after all, as long as a lie was small enough and had the right motivation behind it, then everything would be fine. Right?
That was another small lie, one I told myself over and over again to cover for all the other not quite little lies.
The First Lie
I am invincible. I am Wonder Woman. Nothing can phase me. I am made of steel; I am made of diamonds. Feelings are for the weak. I am not weak; I cannot be weak.
The first lie that led to every other one.
My dad taught me that people left, that people had the power to hurt me, that it was best to remain unattached, that the only person I could rely on was myself. While he was the one who taught me the lesson, there were others who came after him that reinforced the lesson, made sure I would never forget it. The first friend took my confidence and my other friends with it, the second took my loyalty, and by the time the third arrived, there was nothing left to take.
As each new person came along, the attachment lessened, until I had finally convinced myself I was free from the shackles. No one could get to me anymore, there would be no more hurting when they would inevitably leave, there would be no more swoops of butterflies, or pangs of loneliness, there would be no more anything.
I was numb, but at least I was free.
The Second Lie
I never trust. The wall I’ve built up is impenetrable. No one can get through. I am a fortress. No expectations, no disappointments. I am better this way, if I do not trust, then I cannot get hurt. I can bottle everything (that I do not feel, because I told myself I do not have feelings) inside.
The second lie that destroyed me more than all the others.
“How did Steven mess me up?”
I knew my dad had messed me up, but I had never asked my mom how.
“You’re never going to let anyone in.”
My mom was always honest with me, and she never sugarcoated anything. If she was telling me this was how I was, then it had to be right. I told myself she knew me better than I knew myself. I told myself this and I believed it.
It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When I got to college I was both eager to make friends, and suspicious of every single person I met. I craved connection but feared trusting in others, in needing to rely on another person.
I devised a compromise. The goal was to be a friend to them, but never need to confide in them or lean on them in return. The friendships I wanted were one-way street only, one where I would be doing all of the giving and none of the taking. If I took from them, I would be giving away an even larger portion of myself, a portion I could not afford to lose.
As the weeks turned into months I kept up this façade.
I would not confide in my friends, would not talk about my past, would not show any weaknesses, would not let them get past the wall.
For as tall as the wall was, I could not ignore the fact that although floods of information did not pour from me, every once in a while, little drops fell from my lips.
The wall was tall, but it had cracks.
Cracks I pretended did not exist.
I lied again.
The Third Lie
I do not get crushes. I do not like people. He means nothing to me, it’s just a fun little game we have going on. I mean nothing to him. I do not need to be wanted. I am career-oriented, I do not care about or need boys; they can wait, my future cannot.
The third lie I was still telling.
I told myself I had a fascination with him. I told myself the reason why I thought about him more often than I should have was because I wanted to figure him out. I told myself I wanted to become good friends with him only so I could see if there was anything below the surface. I told myself that although he was attractive, I was not attracted to him.
I suppressed everything, and I was good at it for a long time, so good in fact that I had everyone around me fooled. My friends did not tease me about him, I did not receive texts when they saw him, and I did not receive updates when they learned new information about him.
When things are suppressed, pressure builds up until there is an explosion.
The explosion came in the form of a kiss, albeit a drunk and sloppy kiss, but a kiss nonetheless.
I told myself I did not want things to be weird between us, that I wanted everything to go back to normal, that I did not care about it or him. I told myself that even if I did care (which I did not) I did not have time to like a boy, that a boy was just a distraction. I told myself I did not need to feel wanted, that being wanted was overrated.
He did not care about me, and I did not want him to.
At least it was only a half lie that time.
I thought it was okay to tell white lies to myself. I thought my relationship with lying to myself was normal…everyone lies to themselves at some point. Little, white lies did not leave lasting impacts, they were made to spare feelings. I stretched the truth though, I lied about what was a white lie.
My relationship with lying to myself was an unhealthy one, a toxic one, an abusive one, but I was both the abuser and the victim. I constantly did everything I could to keep myself from getting hurt; if I could avoid the pain in the short-term, then I could pretend there would be no long-term effects.
I was obsessed with shielding myself and made sure to never take off my armor. I never did take off my armor, but it was not made of steel.
I was wearing armor made of ice, thinking I was protecting myself from the rest of the world, not realizing the ice would eventually melt and I would be left alone, vulnerable.
My mother once told me that it was okay to tell a little, white lie, so I told a little, white lie; I said it was okay to lie to myself.