I learned to lie early, and I kept it up.
For my thirtieth birthday, I wrote a "Manifesto of Familial Emancipation." It had a lot of clauses -- whereas and be it resolved -- and I printed it on parchment paper and messed up the edges as if it was an old document, and I read it out loud to my therapist, a sweet woman still earning hours towards her MFCC. She didn't know what to make of Item 12:
Item 12. I claim the right to lie.
Be it resolved: I claim the right to lie, deceive, misrepresent, or otherwise obscure truth about my life and my doings. I am aware that sometimes I choose not to be honest about certain aspects of my life. I own my own life. I claim the right to lie about it as I desire, or deem necessary.
When I was thirty, I deemed it necessary a lot. It deflected the heat of my extended family's judgment -- they were so opinionated and there were so many of them and it was easier to pretend -- to lie -- about what I was truly like.
It's been a long road (and many years) from claiming the right to lie, to asserting my right to tell the truth. Oh, I had a be it resolved in my Manifesto about claiming the right to be honest, but it was watery, without conviction. No, I wanted to lie, to make it up, to protect myself. But my truths -- of who I was, things I did -- ate holes in my stomach, lay inside me indigestible for too many years. Until, for my own health, I had to stop lying.
Seventeen years later, I finally can't stop telling the truth. I tell my truth in my writing -- fiction and nonfiction. In fiction it just wears another set of clothes, dyes its hair, and dons sunglasses. But it's still the truth. Often people tell me I'm brave to be so honest. Truth be told, I like telling the truth. It's much more interesting, and it's far less foggy.
It's also habit forming. And sometimes it's brutally hard.
My "wise woman" Johanina tells me that honesty is addictive, and that, in her experience, once people get in the habit of telling the truth, they find it hard to stop.
I'm in the habit now.