Monday, September 01, 2014

The liar

For most of my adult life, I've lived with the liar.

As far as I can remember, the liar first entered my life when I was eight or nine, proceeded to become my inseparable companion in junior high, continued to keep tabs on me in high school, and volunteered to be my full-time roommate for several years of college. Since then it's been something of an on-again, off-again relationship -- mostly off-again, thank heavens, because liars are hard to live with.

But then, that's sort of the point. The liar wants me to stop living.

It took me a while to realize that the liar was there. See, liars aren't visible to the naked eye, and they don't have voices of their own, so they learn to use yours. They watch and listen. They discover your faults, your bad habits, your secret horrors, the things you hope no one ever finds out about you. They wait for the right moment. And they strike.

It doesn't feel like an attack. In fact, unless you've trained yourself to recognize how the liar operates, it might feel like you're alone with your own natural thoughts. But these thoughts are dark and disordered: You are worthless. You are useless. You are evil. You deserved to be hurt. You are broken, and will never be right again. You are a waste of space, time and money. Nothing will ever get better than it is right now. You are stuck in an endless loop of despair, and the only way out is oblivion. The best thing you could do would be to remove yourself from the picture. Over and over again, the liar whispers into your ear, its voice a perfect simulation of your own so that you'll pay attention, its words a stream of thick black poison, urging you to swallow them and die.

At times I've made the liar go away with medicine. Counseling provided a good antidote to the poisonous thoughts when I was in high school. Exercise sometimes helped chase it off, as did any creative act. And faith has given me the rock to which I cling, the belief that every human being has inherent, infinite worth. But in all cases, when the liar starts whispering things to me, I've found it extremely useful to externalize it, give it a physical form. Sometimes it's a particular mean girl from junior high, her hair and clothes still reeking from her smoke break in the girls' bathroom. Sometimes it's the college guy who callously broke my heart and crunched the shards under his foot. Sometimes it's the man who abused me when I was a child. It doesn't really matter what face I give it, as long as I make it look like a cruel, supercilious douchebag and recognize that it's trying to kill me. Because the minute I externalize the liar, give it a face I recognize as dangerous, and see its actions for what they are -- then I can fight it.

I can turn and tell it off. I can refuse to let it dictate its lies to me. I can tell it that it doesn't get to be in charge of my life -- not how I choose to live it, and sure as hell not how it's going to end.

Depression lies. It wants you to believe you're worthless. It wants to suck the joy from your life. It constantly seeks to make you believe that the world would be a better place without you.

Kick it square in the nads.


MarieC said...

I had NO idea. (No one ever does...) This makes me respect and like you all the more. You are brave for putting it in print for the world to read! Don't listen to the liar!!

Jen Egbert said...

Very well written. Everyone would do well to remember the liar lurking about in their lives! Thank you for the reminder!

Pseudotsuga said...

That reminds me a lot of the UnMaker in Card's Alvin Maker series.
It rightly deserves the hard kick in the nadgers.