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My Life With A Compulsive Liar

Gayle Parks By Gayle Parks on
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When I was a kid every body knew about Timmy. Timmy lied. He lied about big things. He lied about small things. If Timmy said it was raining outside you always looked to see for yourself because, chances were, it wasn’t. We all knew that Timmy lied but we were kids and we never thought much about it. It was what it was and that was all there was to it. It didn’t affect our lives much.

As we all grew up Timmy continued to lie. His lies affected more and more people now. His lies affected his own life in more serious ways. I began to wonder why Timmy lied so much. And I knew I couldn’t trust Timmy. It didn’t matter that most of his lies were small and might even be considered “little white lies” they were still lies. You can’t trust a person who lies constantly. I found myself questioning every word that came out of his mouth. Timmy, for that matter, didn’t understand why people did not believe what he said, he didn’t understand why they did not trust him. But I did not have to live with Timmy so his lying remained a curious mystery to me.

Later in my life I found myself living with another liar. This time it was my father-in-law. My husband and I lived in another state and I had never met my husbands father until we moved to live with him and help him out; he is disabled and wheel-chair bound. It only took about a month for me to realize that he was another Timmy.

My father-in-law, who I will call Hank, tells a lot of lies. Most of the lies Hank tells are small, some have a clear motive, others are seemingly without reason. Most of Hanks' lies center around how he wants others to see him. If someone calls and asks to come and visit with him, an old friend for instance, he will often lie, using his condition as a convenient excuse. “I am really sick today” he might say, while, at the same time, he is preparing to go out to his work shop and spend the day with another friend. It is as if he thinks that telling this person the truth, I have company right now, that their world will come tumbling down around them and if they envision him as sick in bed they won’t feel so bad.

Hank often lies to get out of trouble, or some perceived trouble. For instance, a block of cheese disappears out of the refrigerator. Hank is known to feed his dog cheese but when I ask him about it he denies knowing anything about the disappearing cheese. He obviously must believe the cheese grew legs and walked out of the refrigerator of its own accord. This lie has a clear motive; to keep him out of trouble. She will be mad if I tell her I fed the cheese to the dog so I will pretend I know nothing about it.

Other times Hank’s lies have no apparent motive behind them. I once overheard him tell a perfect stranger on the phone that he would have to call him back because he was driving his truck and had nothing to write with. He was sitting in his wheel chair in the kitchen at the time. Telling the man he would find a pencil and call him back was somehow not good enough. The hidden motive here could be, of course, a need to have this stranger envision him driving a new truck instead of sitting in a wheelchair but, even so, it is still a lie and considering this man was a perfect stranger, who lived hundreds of miles away, why would it even matter?

I believe Hank has a compulsive need to lie. To always make a situation more or less of what it really is. Hank is an intelligent man and is well-respected and liked throughout the community. There is no reason for him to lie this way. But, lie he does, every day. About everything. As a result I don’t trust him.

I don’t believe anything Hank says. My husband has learned to live with his lies. I am having a harder time but I am learning to make the best of it. At the very least his constant lying is annoying and frustrating but the real tragedy here is the lack of trust. It’s a phony relationship. By lying all the time he hides his real self and it must be exhausting trying to keep up with all the lies he tells. Sometimes he forgets and it is glaringly obvious he has let the cat out of the bag so- to- speak. At any rate we will continue on with our lives with Hank lying and me filtering every word he says trying to find a speck of the truth.