I lied for my sister because I loved her. I lied to my mother when I told her that my sister didn't leave me home alone, or that she was just a few houses down at her friend's, that she didn't have people over when Mom wasn't home, that I must have been asleep when my sister took the car. The car thing was a big deal. She took it out one night and it rained, leaving a previously clean car covered in water spots and mud, smelling faintly of cigarettes on the inside. I fixed that, rubbing down the car and cleaning the mud from the tires; I covered the cigarette smell with vinegar, and then vanilla, and then we vacuumed the interior. When Mom came home, we presented as a gift to her, because she had been working so hard between her job and school, and we just wanted to do something nice for her. The random nice thing wasn't new to her because sometimes we would pick her flowers and have a bath waiting for her when she got home, just because, so a clean car wasn't too suspicious. But then it all caught up with my sister one particular joy ride when she was arrested: Driving recklessly and without a licence. This wouldn't be the last time she took the car, but I never told on her because she was my sister. Eventually her behavior became too much for my mom to handle, and my sister was bounced around from some juvenile delinquent attitude adjustment place in Alabama, to my dad's, and into another facility for troubled teens (which no one knew he had done until months later). So I could stop lying now, right? Nothing left to lie about.
But then there was a new school, the fifth school I'd been to in five years between rezoning and moving. It was a great private school with terrific programs, but I didn't know anyone, and that combined with a sudden weight gain (thank you, hormones), and the sudden loss of contact from my sister and the sense of security I found with her, it made for some pretty bad depression. My teachers noticed pretty quickly, and a good portion of my time was spent in the guidance counselor's office. Depression is a terrible thing for anyone to go through, but an eleven-year-old? Most of the time with the pretty, young counselor was spent in tears, the rest in a sullen silence. My aggression was inching towards it's peak, and once where I had been faster and stronger than the boys, hormones and emptiness had stripped it all away, leaving me with a kind of impotent rage that I didn't know what to do with. My mom, thinking I was just unhappy at that school, moved me to the public school we were zoned for. But I wouldn't be going to school with my classmates from the year before because we had moved again; I would, instead, be going to school with kids who, if I had ever known them at all, I hadn't seen in almost two years. This is when the lies meant just for me started.
The first, and really the only, friend I made was a girl sort of like me: lonely, a little angry, and a little sad. We latched on to each other, because here was someone who understood what it was like to feel hopeless and alone. My grades started to slip because I wouldn't do the homework, and no homework meant demerits, and demerits meant in-school suspension. When the teachers would send home my demerit sheet to be signed, Tiffany signed it for me, and I did the same for her. I enjoyed ISS: it was quiet, no one bothered me or called me names, and the teacher favored me. If I didn't finish all of the make-up work, he would tell the teacher that he had put it in their box and it wasn't his problem; I was allowed snacks and trips to the library and he had no problem with me just sitting there doing nothing all day. He was a really wonderful man. I did enough homework to get by, and aced all the tests and extra-credit work, so I passed my classes. The high point of that year was getting in the talent show; I sang Selena's "Dreaming of You," and placed third, and was pleasantly surprised at the compliments I received (they didn't last long). The lowest point was sneaking handfuls of vitamins behind my mother's back because I knew that it could make me sick; it never did but that probably had more to do with the fact that they were mostly water pills and St. John's Wort.
The next year wasn't any better. I stayed in the same school, but I was in a different "cell" than the kids from the year before, so I was back to square one. On top of everything else, the kids I was now in class with knew who my sister was, and her reputation preceded her... and me; there were kids who wouldn't even speak to me because of that reputation. To make matters worse, being a 12-year-old who is overweight and can fill out a C-Cup isn't exactly the best thing ever; add depression to that mix and it ain't pretty. I became slovenly and lazy, you could barely tug me away from the TV, and if I wasn't watching the idiot box I was holed up in my room. I made a few more friends than the year before, and my grades were a little better but not by much. The school had me tested for A.D.D., as well as my IQ. No A.D.D., and my IQ was just fine, so they made me promise I would work harder, "You have so much potential! Just think of what you could do if you applied yourself!" That kind of stuff gets old fast, so I did my homework more often. Gym was where the lies were. I had the unfortunate luck of being dubbed "Basketballs," which certain pubescent assholes thought was funny. They would never really call me that directly to my face because my quickfire rage was a thing of renown, we're talking desks being flipped and chairs being thrown, never while a teacher was present of course. I was so humiliated in gym that I told my super-nice gym teacher that my therapist (that I didn't have) had put me on a new drug for my depression, and she didn't want me to do any strenuous exercises until we were sure how I would react to it, and I would totally remember my doctor's note next time. That lasted for about two weeks before my other teachers caught wind and called my mom, who ratted me out. After that, there was a lot of time spent in the guidance counselor's office; she was nice, kinda hippie-ish, and she made me a privacy sign for my door at home, which was pretty cool.
We moved that July. Not just across town this time, but a couple of counties over. New town, new school (#7). Dammit all. I began seeing a psychiatrist soon after.
The town we moved to was almost the exact opposite from what I knew: no major stores, one grocery, almost no fast food locations, anything worth doing was twenty to thirty minutes away; fifteen churches, only one video store. You get the idea. The neighborhood we moved to was nice, just being built, and we were the third family in, so no kids to play or hangout with. The school Mom sent me to was private. A private Christian school. A private Southern Baptist Christian school. Now, I wasn't raised incredibly liberal, but I had grown up surrounded by a diverse group of races and religions, so I definitely had a few problems to adjusting to a teacher that told me that Catholics were going to Hell, as were all non-Christians and non-Southern Baptists, as was I for having pagan friendships. Art was good, as were History and English; Science and Math were the real problems, which I told my mother nothing about because I honestly didn't care. I was making up stories about boyfriends, and worst of all, cutting myself. I fuzzily remember the actual cutting, standing in front of the mirror and watching the knife slice my forearms and shoulders, but I was so numb that it barely registered. When I was asked about them at school, I told people that I had just woken up with the marks. I skipped a lot of days because my mom went to work before my ride came, and I would just hole up in my room like before. This led to my mother and uncle taking my locking doorknob and replacing it with one that wouldn't afford me nearly the same amount of privacy. My mom finally saw the cuts, and she understandably freaked out, and I begged her not to tell my doctor, who had thought we were making progress. She told the doctor at the next available opportunity. I failed seventh grade, which nobody told us that until it was too late for summer school. Fucking MJCA. By then, though, I had made friends with a girl in the neighborhood who was my age and we were pretty inseparable, so it bothered me a little less than it could have. Elise helped pull me out of my funk more than my doctor did. We are actually still friends to this day.
I changed to the public school (#8) which was right next to the hell that is MJCA, and it wasn't so bad. I made decent grades, not great but decent, and made really good friends, mostly through band. The lying really slacked off, and the only thing I really remember lying about was where my lunch money was going (which was to pay for a math book that I had lost because I was really stupid). This lasted for two years, the not-really-lying-about-anything, not the paying for the math book.
Then came high school. High school sucks for everybody, and don't let anyone tell you different because they're lying to you and you should beat them with a sock full of nickels. It started off really well, and I had choir which was awesome and my teachers were all pretty nice, and my fellow students were just as much a source of sunshine and joy as ever. No real problem with lying my freshman year. Sophomore year was a little different: I failed Honors English 2. She was a great teacher and it was a fun class, but it was our final project that kicked me in the ass. I started losing sleep, and my appetite, and having fantasies about pizza slicers and throwing myself out of a moving car on the interstate. So, I went to my guidance counselor, Mrs. MacPherson, and Miss Mac was one of the best parts of my high school experience. She talked to my teacher, who I was too embarrassed and intimidated by to deal with directly, who was unhappily willing to give me a second chance (which I blew), and she called my mom. I don't know exactly what was said since I was sitting outside of her office, but whatever my mom's response was to being told that I was having suicidal thoughts and having trouble in school, it wasn't what Miss Mac was expecting. After that she was wonderfully sympathetic and open with me. When I told her that I thought my overeating and procrastination was my being passive-aggressive towards my mother for having expectations for me that I felt were too high and for being a source of insecurity to my already low self-esteem, and I told her that I didn't know how to break past that, she was kind enough to say, "I've been there with my mother. She and I had all kinds of problems while I was growing up, but I finally got past them." "How'd you do that?" "She died two years ago. That kind of helped resolve the resentment." "And how old were you?" "Fifty." "So, I'm not going to get past this until she's dead and I've probably screwed up my own kids' lives?" "Pretty much." Thanks, Miss Mac. The rest of high school went along the same lines, with a few bumps and jolts that aren't really worth mentioning.
And on to college. Which started off great; I liked my classes, liked my roommate (who was a photojournalism major and almost never there), and enjoyed the sense of being kinda out on my own. But I wasn't really happy, and started holing up in my room again. I went home on the weekends, and never really made an effort. By the next summer I was miserable, but when I broached the subject of changing schools to Mom, I was shot down, told I wouldn't get any help from her and that I'd have to deal with everything (including my dad) by myself. So I stayed at my school, getting more bogged down and letting everything slip through my fingers, and telling everybody that everything was fine, never letting on that anything might be wrong. I would try to fix things, start off strong and then fall apart because most of the time I couldn't bring myself to care. And when I could, I was too terrified to let anyone in my life know what was happening to me. As you might guess, it didn't end well. My lies finally came to a head, and I had to deal with the fallout. Said fallout included screaming and disappointed speeches, and nothing has been the same.
Lying is almost like an addiction: easy to start, hard as hell to stop. I'm not a compulsive liar. I don't feel the need to lie about every situation, or to make up wild stories to get attention. The stories thing, that's a habit that lasted for a few months but it wasn't worth it. Now, the habit is lying to meet people's expectations and then trying to make the lie a reality, such as: "Yes, I called that adviser at Acme University. I have an appointment with her next week." A lie at the time, but not the next day. But it all catches up, and even when you tell the truth there's that grain of doubt in the listener. It's not worth it.
My New Year's Resolution? Be more honest, even when it terrifies me.