Late with this post…life got in the way
Some people think I am lying when I tell the truth about my past. They think I don’t have feelings or am snobbish because of my lack of physical expressions. My words and actions get misinterpreted often – flirting or friendly? happy or sad or angry or frustrated? – because people don’t have any visual cues to help them understand.
Some people think I am easy to take advantage of because I smile even when I’m upset or angry or confused. They blame me for being weird and different; use it as an excuse for being manipulative or mean. If my facial expression and body language are accepting and open to whatever they’re saying, they can turn around my words to make it seem like the disagreement is my fault. I’d believe that in the past, before I learned about facial expressions and body language as part of communication.
My social anxiety for is often mistaken for a lack of confidence and treat me accordingly. I am never sure how I come across to other people because I know about my lack of facial and body language cues. That makes me feel anxious and afraid to connect with people. And it causes me to ask questions about facial expressions and body language for clarification. Questions that make other people uncomfortable and feel like they have permission to lash out at me or treat me with condescension since I don’t understand such basic human skills.
Past experiences taught me that there isn’t a difference between lies and truth. Either way, I am a bad person and everything bad that happens to me is deserved. Everything bad that happens to my family or friends is my fault. Lies won’t help. Truth doesn’t work either. Only the people in control, the ones with power, are good and acceptable.
Connecting with others is difficult because of my honesty, respect, and open communication policy. I can still be polite about it, but I refuse to accept, respect, or tell lies unless absolutely necessary. And I have a difficult time not stepping in to defend people when I see others being mean just because. Spending my time around negativity and meanness is not fun, so why bother?
I learned how to spot lies from a young age. Even if I don’t say anything right away, I know when people lie to me. And when people lie to me, I have two options: 1) call them out on the lie; and 2) let them think I am really that stupid and gullible to believe the lie. Option 1 gets used with people I care about because I want to build a relationship with them based on respect, open communication, honesty, and acceptance.
Option 2 gets used on people I don’t trust or care much about. Often these are people I let into my life because of triggers or self-harm type punishments because these people treat me the way my parents and perpetrators did. Every once in a while, I will catch them in a lie and point it out to them just as a reminder that I know what they are up to. This is usually my first step in breaking off a friendship.
I learned how to tell and value the truth to compensate for lack of physical expressions. In school, I heard the phrase “honesty is the best policy” a lot. In real life, I learned “lying is the best policy” from both parents and the perpetrators. Lots of kids lied and got caught in school. Some got punished; others didn’t. I didn’t often get caught or get punished for lying because the teachers couldn’t read me. But I watched how the known liars got treated vs. how the truth tellers got treated. Liars were not trusted or respected. Truth tellers were.
I learned that lying is neutral. The person telling the lie and the consequences of the lie make it good or bad. I lied to survive my childhood and adolescence. As often as I lied, I also told the truth to the people who mattered. And I refused to cheat on homework or exams even if that meant I failed and had to repeat something. Earning the trust of my teachers felt good even if that had disastrous social consequences with my peers – i.e. suck up, teacher’s pet, nerd, etc.
I learned that sometimes shame comes from hiding secrets and telling lies. Being honest to myself and others about my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors helps me let go of some shame. I can put past experiences and events into perspective. Perspective has a way of revealing the holes in a liar’s story, including the lies I used to tell myself.
Finally, I learned not to feel ashamed of myself for not reacting to feelings like most people do. And learning the lesson is not the same as consistently applying it. That part I still struggle with. But I am lucky enough to have a support network to help out. And when my friends or support network reaches out to me, I do the same for them. Support. Respect. Acceptance. It all goes both ways.
Thanks for reading.