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How do I cope with feeling guilty after compulsively lying?

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  • #385276
    caroline1234
    Participant

    I was a compulsive liar during my entire youth I think.. I used to make up boyfriends and dramatic stories to make my life seem more interesting and to become attention. My self-esteem was very low..I really feel ashamed for this. I managed to stop. Not at once but step by step… The last lies that I’ve told where “small ones”. An example: I have worked with people I know I never have to see again, so I lied about planing to go on a vacation or that I live together with my boyfriend, when the truth is that we sleep at his flat every night, but we don’t actually live together yet. After reflecting a lot, I feel ashamed for this lies too and so I decided to stop. It goes really well and I think about everything I’m going to say first and so I manage to don’t tell any lies anymore. But now I have the problem with guilt… I have such a guilty conscience that I can’t think about anything else. I think that my boyfriend deserves better. With him, I was honest from the start (Maybe I exaggerate about my skills or hobbies in the beginning, but no big lies that have an impact on our life now.) But if he knew what a lying and person I was before I think that he would be so shocked. I really want to be good enough for him but I just feel like he deserves someone who doesn’t have a history of lying…. Now I think about breaking up with him because yeah I am 100% sure that he deserves better

    #385308
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    Congratulations for managing to stop lying! The purpose of guilt is to motivate us to correct wrong  behavior. You corrected your practice of lying, and so- the purpose of your guilt was served.

    I just feel like he deserves someone who doesn’t have a history of lying“- I hope that he deserves someone who doesn’t lie now and in the future. As your boyfriend, he can claim part of you (your attention, your caring, your honesty) for as long as you are together, but he doesn’t have a right to claim your past, and to judge you for past behavior that you no longer practice.

    Now I think about breaking up with him because yeah I am 100% sure that he deserves better“- how can you.. see to it that he gets better: will you help him choose a .. better girlfriend?

    anita

    #385312
    caroline1234
    Participant

    Hey Anita, thank you very much for your answer!

    I think my main problem right now are the obsessive-compulsive thoughts… I think about everything I’ve ever done wrong and try to learn from it and change my behavior. Then I’m clean with it for a few moments but quickly start to think again “But my boyfriend deserves better, If he would knew aaaall of my thoughts and further actions I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be with me anymore”. And then I think that it’s egoistical that I still want to be with him. And if it’s enough that I try to do better everyday…  And then I can’t stop to google, and to write in my notes and all I can think about is that I am / was a bad person…

    #385317
    caroline1234
    Participant

    Hey Anita, thank you very much for your answer!

    I think my main problem right now are the obsessive-compulsive thoughts… I think about everything I’ve ever done wrong and try to learn from it and change my behavior. Then I’m clean with it for a few moments but quickly start to think again “But my boyfriend deserves better, If he would knew aaaall of my thoughts and further actions I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be with me anymore”. And then I think that it’s egoistical that I still want to be with him. And if it’s enough that I try to do better everyday…  And then I can’t stop to google, and to write in my notes and all I can think about is that I am / was a bad person…

    #385321
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    You are welcome.

    I think my main problem right now are the obsessive-compulsive thoughts“: your recurring thoughts are the Obsessive part of what may be your OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), while the forced activity,  Compulsive part of your possible OCD may be this: “I can’t stop to google, and to write in my notes“.

    I think about everything I’ve ever done wrong and try to learn from it and change my behavior“- it is good and helpful to think about what we’ve done wrong so to learn and change our behavior, but to obsessively think about anything is not helpful and it is distressing and harmful.

    I.. start to think again ‘But my boyfriend deserves better, If he would knew aaaall of my thoughts and further actions I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be with me anymore‘”-

    – (1) He doesn’t have the time to know all of your thousands of thoughts per day because he has his own thousands of thoughts per day, and he can’t think your thoughts and his own all in the same day, (2) I am sure that he wouldn’t want you to know all of his thoughts. No one would like his/ her thoughts exposed to another person: to live exposed like that would be a torture! We all have the right to privacy in regard to what is going on in between our ears.

    all I can think about is that I am / was a bad person“- would you like to elaborate on this as well as the very low self esteem you mentioned in your original post (“during my entire youth..  My self-esteem was very low“)?

    anita

    #385324
    caroline1234
    Participant

    thanks again…

    sometimes I also think that I have to apologize to all people I’ve done wrong.. Even if they have already forgotten about it and don’t care at all anymore..

    I wish I could just leave my past behind and enjoy the present..

    About my self-esteem: I always thought that I’m not interesting enough, that nobody wants to hang out with me if they now the “real me”. My boyfriend now knows the real me. And we are so happy together. But right now I just can’t enjoy it. I try to “justify” all my mistakes in my head, but of course I can’t. They are just mistakes and there’s no excuse for them. And I struggle so hard to leave them behind and overthink if it would be okay to just let them go and concentrate on my life right now..

    #385326
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    My boyfriend now knows the real me. And we are so happy together. But right now I just can’t enjoy it“-

    – because you believe that the real you is a bad person (“all I can think about is that I am / was a bad person”), and a bad person does not deserve to be happy.

    They are just mistakes and there’s no excuse for them“- do you feel that when you were a child, growing up, you made terrible mistakes that hurt your mother, or father?

    anita

    #385330
    caroline1234
    Participant

    do you think it is possible to change, and that if I really want to be the best for my boyfriend now, it’s alright to stay with him?

    Yes I lied to them too… because I felt better telling stories about that I’m dating a guy right now and stuff like this.. my mother knows about it and a few weeks ago I called her and told her that I feel so bad about everything and she was very nice and said that she’s very proud of me and isn’t mad at all about things that happened when I was a teenager.. So she is very supportive..

    #385331
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    do you think it is possible to change, and that if I really want to be the best for my boyfriend now, it’s alright to stay with him?“- yes, I do think that it’s possible for you to change: you already proved that! And I think it’s alright for you to stay with him, for as long as the two of you are good to each other. (Not perfectly good, because perfect behavior is not possible!)

    my mother knows about it.. said that she’s very proud of me and isn’t mad at all about things that happened when I was a teenager.. So she is very supportive..“- then accept her support, take in what she told you, that she is proud of you: close your eyes and with a smile, slowly can calmly breathe in her words, say to yourself: my mother is proud of me, and so am I.

    anita

    #385351
    caroline1234
    Participant

    Dear anita

    thank you a lot for all your kind answers.. They really helped me to feel a little better…

    But somehow one fear replaces another.. Now I’m so afraid, that someday I’m having children and that they are just like me. That they have to struggle with lying aswell. I hope so much that I can prevent that by helping them to build a healthy self-confidence, but than I think about that my parents are SUCH AMAZING people and still I turned out that way…

    #385352
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    You are very welcome

    But somehow one fear replaces another“- it is fear that is behind obsessions, and if one obsession replaces another, maybe you suffer from OCD and (if you haven’t so far) seeing a medical doctor is a good idea..? I was diagnosed myself with OCD many years ago, but no longer suffer from the symptoms (obsessions and compulsions)

    Now I’m so afraid, that someday I’m having children and that they are just like me. That they have to struggle with lying as well“- lying is not genetic, it’s not passed on from parent to child. It is a learned behavior, not a hereditary/ innate behavior.

    I hope so much that I can prevent that by helping them to build a healthy self-confidence“- that is always a good idea, to help your children build a healthy self-confidence, (and to not destroy much of the  confidence they naturally have as young children, as many parents do, unfortunately).

    but than I think about that my parents are SUCH AMAZING people and still I turned out that way“- reads to me that you turned out to be a good person who cares about helping her future children to build a healthy self-confidence, a good person who cares about not lying to people, a good person who wants to be good to her boyfriend.. all good things.

    If you do want to figure out what about your earlier childhood brought about the lying, we can talk about it, look for how it happened- if you want to do so, let me know.

    anita

    #385355
    caroline1234
    Participant

    I can’t thank you enough…

    Yes I’m going to see a therapist next Tuesday – I hope it’s going to help..

    I already have an assumption about my childhood… But I don’t want to blame my parents for my behavior because they were trying so hard and handled everything so well. But my olde sister was very sick, she suffered from a chronical illness. It was very hard for me to handle the limitations that come with a sick family member. Of course, she was the center of attention, we couldn’t go on a lot of vacations and my parents were very carefully and concerned about my health as well. I could imagine that some of these parts had an impact, but as already mentioned, I couldn’t imagine that anyone can handle the situation better than my parents. And so I really don’t want to blame them for anything and after all it is my fault and I could’ve just changed my behavior sooner

    #385357
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    You are welcome! I hope seeing a therapist next Tuesday will bring about a positive change for you!

    Regarding your older sister having been chronically ill and the center of attention, it is perhaps possible for you to further understand how it affected you without blaming your parents… or yourself, or your sister. Some things just happen and no one in the family is guilty for it, such as your sister’s chronic illness. Your parents, understandably paid her more attention than to the daughter who was not sick. And understandably, you felt unattended to, or less attended to, hurt and maybe angry.

    As a result, you used to lie so to get the attention you craved (“I was a compulsive liar during my entire youth I think.. I used to make up boyfriends and dramatic stories to make my life seem more interesting and to (get) attention“, original post).

    There is a website, kids health. org, whose aim is “to give families the tools and confidence to make the best health choices”. Under the title Caring for a Seriously Ill Child and the sub-title Dealing With Siblings, it reads:  “Family dynamics can be severely tested when a child is sick. Clinic visits, surgical procedures, and frequent checkups can throw big kinks into everyone’s schedules and take an emotional toll on the entire family…

    “It’s common for siblings of a chronically ill child to become angry, sullen, resentful, fearful, or withdrawn. They may pick fights or fall behind in schoolwork. In all cases, parents should pay close attention, so that their other kids don’t feel pushed aside by the demands of their sick brother or sister…”-

    – there is lots of advice given to parents by medical health professionals in this website, on a variety of issues. I imagine it could have helped your parents a bit, if they had access to it.

    I think that it will help you to explore further, in therapy, how you felt growing up without the attention that you needed, how you developed therefore a kind of craving for attention and that craving led you to lie. Somewhere along the way of exploring this, you will forgive yourself for having lied in the past, removing your shame and guilt from those memories.

    I hope to read from you again, anytime you want to post, and I would  like to read how the Tuesday meeting with the therapist goes.

    anita

     

    #386340
    caroline1234
    Participant

    Hi Anita 🙂

    Here is an update from me:

    Therapy goes well so far… I am totally honest with my therapist and I think he is the right person to talk to.. I’ve already talked to him about an other issue that bothers me a lot…

    I am very ashamed of this but somehow I want to tell you too to “get it off my chest”

    In the beginning of my relationship with my boyfriend, I kissed another guy. I was together with my boyfriend for about 1 month..
    <p class=”q-text qu-display–block”>As already mentioned, He is a very kind person – I love him so so much – but he has some conditions. For example: He doesn’t want that I have male friends. And now, I’m totally okay with that and understand him. But one day I wanted to go out for drinks with him, two girls and one other male friend (we both know this male friend). And somehow he thought that it is not okay that I want to go out with this male friend. But I wanted him to come with us! I made this very clearly and called him about 20 times this night because I didn’t know why he is not showing up. The next day he ignored my calls. Until I drove to his home in the evening. He said he wants to end the relationship. I was crying and begging and able to convince him that he shouldn’t do that and it is a huge misunderstanding. We stayed together and I was so happy. But on the other hand I was very anxious from this moment. I just couldn’t stand that he ignores so many calls from his new girlfriend (we were together for 1 month). He promised me, that he will answer my calls immideately from now on and he understands that I’m going to be very anxious about that the next weeks,…</p>
    <p class=”q-text qu-display–block”>A week or two later he wasn’t writing back the whole day. And I was so afraid that he wants to end the relationship again. To come to the point: A boy I had a thing with before asked me if I want to have drinks. And I (dumb shit) said yes. Because I was so pissed at my new boyfriend. We had a lot of drinks, it was a “funny” night and then. We kissed. As I realized. What I’ve just done I started crying and the boy called me a taxi to my boyfriend. I confessed to him that I met this other boy but I didn’t say that there was a kiss. I was 100% sure that if I would say that he would leave me. And I just couldn’t stand that, I know that it is wrong. From this day on, our relationship went so well. He never ignores my messages and I would never get into a situation where I kiss another man again. I hate myself for it so much. And I know that he would want to know the truth to break up with me. And if I could see 1% chance that he wouldn’t I would tell him. But there is 0%. The guilt is eating me up. My therapist told me I should forgive myself. But I’m so afraid that in 10 years from now, I still think about this kissing and that I don’t deserve my boyfriend. But I love him so much that I am such an egoistic idiot that can’t open her mouth and be honest…</p>

    #386341
    anita
    Participant

    Dear caroline1234:

    Good to read your update!

    I love him so much“- then don’t hurt him by telling him about that one long-ago kiss. Why cause him hurt.. (just so that you will feel less guilt for just a moment)?

    How do I cope with feeling guilty..?“- is the question in the title of your thread. My answer: not by hurting another person, particularly a person you say you love so much.

    Keep talking about your guilty feelings with your therapist, and don’t use your boyfriend as a way to feel temporarily better.. (at his expense). If you are afraid that you will kiss another again, or otherwise cheat on your boyfriend- talk about it to your therapist (and here with me, if you want). If the situation is or becomes such that you are not in control of yourself-  then your boyfriend should know.

    anita

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