From the U.S.: I received a letter from a reader that is much too long to post. However, he raised an issue that may resonate for others so I’ll put a very edited down summary here:
I have a beautiful baby boy that i probably won’t be allowed near, a beautiful girlfriend, who now hates me, and a loving family that doesn’t trust me. Why might you ask does everyone think all that. I am a liar. I have been lying about the stupidest stuff for the longest time. I started lying when i was a small boy in a small town. My father is a preacher. I was in church constantly. I had friends at my school i went too, and i am naturally funny, but I lied. I would go out and drink with my friends and lie to my parents about what i was doing, whose house I was at, they knew none of this. The whole town thought i was this great person when in reality i was lying but without being caught. Then i joined the Marine Corps. Suddenly I didn’t have to lie anymore. I was looked up to and very well thought of. People and Marines respected me and came to me for help and advice, I was very dependable. After discharge, I then went right back into the swing of things. I started working all the time, and drinking all the time, and smoking a lot of weed as well. …
WHY CAN’T I STOP I KNOW ITS TEARING EVERYTHING AWAY FROM ME, WHY CAN’T I JUST STOP LYING WHY DO I CONSTANTLY NEED TO HAVE OTHERS FEEL FOR ME OR THINK CERTAIN THINGS ABOUT ME. the lying makes it so much worse… How can i stop this. Ive tried everything. Two years and I’m still lying. Not as much as before maybe just its just as hurtful now as it ever was.
One of the issues you didn’t explore is why a preacher’s son would become a chronic liar. I’ve seen it any number of times. One possibility is that you didn’t feel you could live up to the standards that were set by your parents. Not feeling you could be the best, you went 180 degrees and became the best at being the worst — and you did it mostly secretly so you could maintain their high regard but protect your self-esteem by identifying yourself as a successful liar.
The Marines apparently gave you a “second chance” and, to your credit, you took it. But once you went back into familiar surroundings (and without the high structure of the military) you slipped right back into your “old skin.”
In your letter, you mention that you tried counseling only once and with a religious counselor. I suspect that a counselor with those credentials is too similar to your parents. I also think that you probably lied to the counselor.
I strongly urge you to seek out counseling from a licensed psychologist who does not identify as a religious counselor. Send a copy of the letter your wrote to PsychCentral plus this response to the therapist before your first session. That will at least lay out the problem honestly and will jump start your treatment.
Your letter was a good first step but unless you follow up, it will go nowhere. Do make an appointment with an experienced and licensed therapist and get down to the real issues. You are still young. You can still change and make a better life for yourself.
I wish you well. Dr. Marie
Why Can’t I Just Stop Lying?
Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker
Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
APA Reference Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Why Can’t I Just Stop Lying?. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 24, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/11/08/why-cant-i-just-stop-lying/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.