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How and why do codependents lie, omit, or evade telling the truth in order to maintain others’ approval, attention, and affection?
How do our efforts to “save face” really lead us behave in ugly behaviors?
What’s the cost to being inauthentic, disingenuous, and “fake” to our relationships–with others and ourselves???
In this episode, Marissa describes our attempts as codependents to please others, protect or cover up for those we love, and protect ourselves BY LYING. She shares stories from her childhood and adolescence that taught her lying can help her maintain approval (i.e., love) from others and how she applied that to most situations in her life–at a cost. She concludes with questions you can ask yourself about your own dishonesty and truly discern whether you want to keep lying or start telling the truth. Thanks for listening!

@therapywithmarissa on IG

Deets on this week’s episode:

Part I: Why do codependents lie?

In her book, Codependent No More, which is a classic for us codependents, Melody Beattie spells out codependent characteristics, including “poor communication,” including how codependents frequently:

Try to say what they think will please people
Lie to protect and cover up for people they love
Lie to protect themselves
Where did you learn to lie, baby girl?

What comes to mind when you recall lying in your past?

Like many children, I learned to lie to avoid getting into trouble at school, home, and with any authority figure. I also learned to lie to maintain a certain reputation, status, or perception by others as a good, responsible, and lovable girl. And to protect my parents and sisters. Not conscious but my actions indicated that was what I was after.

An example of lying to protect and cover up for the people I loved: when I got lice.

Long story short: my mom got outed for not doing a good job checking my head for lice despite being a school nurse. Busted!

Unintentionally, in that moment, she taught me a few things: omission is better than honesty, don’t admit mistakes, and lie to others to maintain your reputation.

I believe that, in my codependency, I took these moments, internalized these rules, and then ran with them to an extreme in order to avoid abandonment.

Any memories you have of learning to lie? And for who?

Recap: we lie to please others, protect and cover for those we love, and to protect ourselves.

Part II: How do our efforts to “save face” lead us to behave in ugly behaviors?

Saving face: Avoid humiliation or embarrassment, preserve dignity, as in Rather than fire him outright, they let him save face by accepting his resignation. The phrase, which uses face in the sense of “outward appearances,”

The main anecdote I want to focus on in this episode demonstrates a combination of Beattie’s traits: saying what will please others and lying to protect myself.

Long story short: I drank on a trip in high school and lied about it. Some other students got caught while others, including myself, did not. I lied to my favorite teacher and omitted to my parents, sister, friends, and others about my actions. I may have looked “pretty” and favorable but I engaged in some ugly-ass behaviors.

Part III: What’s the cost of being inauthentic to ourselves and others?

No matter what we do, lying or being honest, there is an emotional cost. Sometimes there is a physical cost. Or a spiritual cost.

The cost of lying about drinking on this trip was the fact that I furthered my sense of aloneness atop my pedestal, I added distance between myself and my loved one’s, and I walked around with a target on my back.

What price are you paying due to your inauthenticity, ingenuineness, and being “fake?” What behaviors are you engaging in to compensate for the cost?

Conclusion: We are not entirely full of shit. We keep shit in to please others, protect and cover for those we love, and to protect ourselves.

…but at a cost. And, I would encourage you to look at:

If you are lying, omitting, or evading the truth, what are you underlying motives?
If you are “saving face” but engaged in ugly behaviors, what is the cost to you and your relationships with yourselves and others?
If you are being inauthentic and ingenuine, is the cost worth it?
By answering those questions, you can decide if you want to keep lying or omitting or discern, no, I want to be honest here. Truth is not a one-size-fits-all principle.

Now, if you decide to lie, omit, or evade the truth solely to please, protect others, and yourself…eventually, you will be full of shit and that’s not sustainable.

Your homework:

Like I eventually wrote and admitted my lie to my favorite teacher, I want you to write a letter to that person you want to come clean to.

You don’t have to send it–just write it. If, after a week of reflection and meditation you want to send it, you can. If not, follow that discernment and let the writing be sufficient.

Marissa’s info:

@therapywithmarissa on IG

Thanks for listening!