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The Lies We Tell Ourselves


You’ll be glad (or dismayed) to know that I am not dead.

While the freezer door did make an attempt upon my life, I am still upright and breathing. But after the gas leak from a dead pilot light the week before, I’m now warily watching the washer/dryer unit to see when, in fact, it will make its play to kill me. I can only surmise that it is plotting against me, but without real proof, I cannot be sure. So rather than being productive, I instead watch it with the phone book open to the number of the local hospital, as a warning of sorts, that if it does, in fact, try to kill me, I have backup motherfucker. And not Life Alert, although that may be a wise investment.

In that time, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lies we tell ourselves:

“Tomorrow, I’ll feel better.”
“It was the right decision.”
“I can totally fit into those pants.”
“I like being a morning person.”
“John C. Mayer isn’t ALL bad.”
“If only X happens, things will work out.”

I wonder, sometimes, if we tell ourselves these lies simply to avoid the truth: that the moment we’re in is hard; that the end is nowhere in sight; that we do really jam out to John C. Mayer when no one is looking; that becoming a morning person means that we are now able to be smugly superior to the rest of those crazy “late sleepers.”

I don’t know the answer.

And I don’t know if the lies we tell ourselves in order to believe that somehow Our Happy is just around that corner, ready to spring out and beat The Happy into our brains is a healthy way to cope. I don’t know if dwelling on the past, mulling over the mistakes we’ve made and the things we’ve done that have hurt others is a better solution.

I’d surmise that the answer lies somewhere in the middle – we tell ourselves the things that allow us to feel briefly better, like it was all meant something, that someday, the meaning of the tunnel of shit we’re wading through had a far greater purpose: without X, Y wouldn’t have happened. I like to believe that sentimentย  – normally I find that the tunnel of shit does bring about, in time, diamonds, and not rocks.

Take for example, my daughter, who was born with a previously undiagnosed neural tube defect called an “encephalocele,” which is a fancy way of saying that her skull got lazy, didn’t close, and brain matter developed outside of her head. While normally diagnosed prenatally during a routine ultrasound, someone somehow somewhere fucked up and managed to NOT see the hole in her skull. In normal conversation, I tell people that “it’s better that I didn’t know she had an encephalocele ahead of time,” because it would’ve “made the pregnancy that much more stressful.”

I don’t know if that’s true – if it’s another lie I tell myself to make myself feel better – there’s nothing like dangling in the labor room, listening to the NICU whirr and click and clack and whisper about your baby while you’re stuck there, delivering the placenta and getting your girl bits stitched up while your daughter, mere minutes old, is in the midst of getting an examination that will seal her fate as one of two things:

1) Innocuous, unsightly cyst

B) Something really, REALLY bad.

Any of you who’ve read my blog know what happened: she now has a handy skull graft and that pesky brain tissue exploding out of the back of her head, well, it’s been long-since removed. The scar is still there, growing along with her, as she whirls and twirls and plays and giggles. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for a situation so very dire.

the lies we tell ourselves

While the situation was, to put it in the most mild way possible, terrible, some good has sprung of it.

When I first confessed my shame at having post-traumatic stress disorder (this post) it spurned an idea that had been rattling around my own brain for a long time – putting together a group blog for people to share their stories of darkness and light, and pair these stories with resources about a particular subject. I recall scouring the Internet for information about encephaloceles after Amelia was born only to find that the information was scattered; not put together in any real order. I wanted to change that.

I did.

I formed Band Back Together in 2010 to do just that: allow people a safe moderated environment to pull their skeletons from the closet and make them dance the tango, in the hopes that by telling our truth, we’d be able to grow, learn, and begin to heal. One of the most powerful things in the world is to realize that we are not alone in this world; that others have felt the way that we have.

That’s the reason the wonderful volunteers at Band Back Together (if you’re into volunteering with us, email continues to post stories – your stories – and create readable and informative resources. It’s also why I continue to write out my life for anyone to read, despite thoughts of, after eleventy-nine years, simply calling it done and walking away from my blog. I haven’t. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because if one person out there can read the words I’ve written – some good, some great, most bad – then I have done something with my life.

And despite my shortcomings and failures; the lies I tell myself to get one foot in front of the other, that means something.

34 Comments to

“The Lies We Tell Ourselves”

  1. On October 24th, 2012 at 10:11 am @WhacamoleLife Says:

    RT @mommywantsvodka: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

  2. On October 24th, 2012 at 10:15 am Cindy Says:

    I think I tell myself these lies because denial is sometimes far more comfortable than the ugly truth. Denial is my normal behavioural pattern (thank, addiction), and therefore denial is the familiar. Ultimately, I do all sorts of shit to keep me from living in the now, which is sad, since the now is all that I have. Yesterday is gone and I can’t change it. Tomorrow is something that never arrives and cannot be controlled. Yet I beat myself up over yesterday, and I worry about tomorrow, and in the process I completely lose the only thing I have–the right now.

    Thank you for giving us The Band, because it has given us a voice. It has also helped pushed me into the right now far more often than I would have arrived here alone.


  3. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:28 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I love you, duder. I love you so much.

  4. On October 24th, 2012 at 10:49 am Grace Says:

    Your words are doing so much good, my dear. And you WILL find Your Happy. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not a week from next Tuesday, but it will come. Just keep pushing forward.

  5. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:28 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I hope so. I do have hope. That’s about all I can ask for right now.

  6. On October 24th, 2012 at 11:44 am Cindy DuBois Says:

    You help me every time you post. Because of you, I feel less alone in the world. Because of you I am committed to finding my writing voice. Because of you, I laugh out loud sometimes and allow myself to cry. You have made a big difference in my life and I would miss you oodles if you were to quit writing and walk away from your computer. You are right, at this point in the life scan a lot of things suck but it is better than the alternative. If you were dead you would miss the smiles of your great kids and the happies that you bring your pranksters.

    I love you and I count for something.

  7. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:29 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Thank you. Honestly, IT’S ALLERGIES – I’M NOT CRYING. Okay, I am. Thanks, lovie.

  8. On October 24th, 2012 at 12:10 pm BellaBluMoon Says:

    Becky–I love your posts. Don’t quit–you are loved so much! I have been reading for the past year and I have followed religiously. You have shared so much with us about your life, what you have been through and have been honest and hilarious all at the same time. My brother has a form of autism, just like your son, and I too, went to nursing school and never practiced. It is uncanny that you are now helping me through something I didn’t think would happen: a divorce myself. I am in a verbally abusive relationship and it has taken years of belittling, no support and general contempt toward me to finally wake up and see the light that I am better than that. It is okay if our relationships don’t work forever. It is best for our children to see healthy relationships full of love rather than just stay together…hang in there Becky! You rock!!

  9. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:30 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Oh, I won’t quit. They’ll have to drag my blog out of my cold dead hands before I quit. I just wish that I could talk about all the stuff that’s REALLY going on in my life – I feel stifled because, well, I am.

    And best of luck to you, love. I’m here if you need me.

  10. On October 24th, 2012 at 12:45 pm Stella Says:

    I love this post. The lies I told myself almost led me away from my marriage and family and I ended up writing, which somehow evolved into a book, just to deal with it all. I’d love to learn more about Band Back Together.

  11. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:31 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    We’d love to have you at the Band! Email lovie. And you know? The lies we tell are somehow how we get by.

  12. On October 24th, 2012 at 1:45 pm vingleburt wingeldank Says:

    Yannow… I used to think I was lying to myself about stuff like that… and then I came to realize that I wasn’t lying, I just didn’t deep down believe what I was saying. That doesn’t make it a lie, it just means you’ve haven’t come around on that one yet. The “lies” you are telling yourself are simply the voice that lives inside you and tries to take care of you. It’s trying to tell you that there really are better days ahead…that tough times don’t last, tough people do, but you don’t quite believe it yet.

    Maybe you need some proof. Maybe you need to be miserable a while longer before the sun comes out again. But it’s going to. Clearly the little voice already knows that. I hope someday soon you do too. You’ll get through this, you’ve already gotten through so much. So. Yannow. Eat something salty. Have a good cry. Scream, yell, dance around your place, but just know that it is going to get better. Even if you don’t believe me, or the little voice.

  13. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:37 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I do believe you. Honestly – this helps to know that other people have been where I am, you know? I’m busily processing a HELL of a lot right now, which has been way hard, but I’m learning to sit with it. To be okay with NOT being okay.

  14. On October 24th, 2012 at 2:31 pm SharleneT Says:

    We know they’re lies, but they get us through THIS moment, while our minds are working on a solution — which, I believe, is how it oftens ends up being a better result in the long run. Now, if we don’t recognize that we’re lying to ourselves, that’s a harder row to hoe, and avoiding a solution allows others to make those decisions for us. You’re doing a great job for so many. Don’t give up on us or yourself. Take it a a day at a time and know that you’re loved.

  15. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:39 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    That’s completely true – sometimes we have to do whatever we can to get us through each moment. Especially the hard ones. I’m trying to remember that I don’t have to have the answers or be happy with the outcome – it doesn’t always need to roll off my back. Sometimes, it’s just going to be hard.

  16. On October 24th, 2012 at 2:38 pm Cynthia Medina Says:

    Do what you gott do to get through the moments, the minutes, the hours and the days. Just DON’T let them washer and dryer tag team your ass! (Psst – watch out for the microwave – they are MEAN!)

    It’s called Band Back Together ’cause You Rock…

  17. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:38 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Bwahahaha! You need to work with us, duder. And the microwave may be in cahoots with the washing machine. I’m not sure yet.

  18. On October 24th, 2012 at 6:25 pm Ewokmama Says:

    Dude, I lie to myself all the time. Manipulate my brain into doing what it needs to do. I think anyone living with mental illness has to tell themselves all kinds of stories – true or not – just to get out of bed every day. Whatever it takes, you know?

  19. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:39 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Sometimes, that’s all we can do.

  20. On October 24th, 2012 at 7:16 pm Luna Says:

    I don’t think they’re lies. Shit happens. What we believe about that shit determines how we feel about it. And we can believe lots of things, all at once. Things that conflict.

    Eg: My kids have autism. All three of ’em. On nights when all three of them are in a fit and can’t sleep and need too many things, and I’m totally overwhelmed, I believe that autism sucks and God is some sort of twisted asshole, and I’m miserable. On days when my eldest has figured out something new, my middle boy is “playing socks” and looking angelic, and my littlest is learning imagination games, I believe that autism is a blessing, it gives me the chance to learn and help my kids learn, and that I get to watch in wondrous amazement how these kids learn so differently. And I feel great. It’s not that the latter is a lie. It’s not that their autism is different, or that one way of thinking about it is right and the other is wrong, it’s just different beliefs. And how I feel depends on which one I’m believing today. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:40 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I love this comment. If I had a gold star, I’d give it to you.

  22. On October 24th, 2012 at 9:55 pm Aimee Says:

    I found your blog only in the last week… and you’ve already helped me. I’m in the midst of postpartum depression, and your snarky outlook on life (having a hard time but still trying to see the best in it) is helping me feel less alone, and making me laugh. So, you are helping someone. And I know there are more out there. Prayers for you, Aunt Becky. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:41 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Thanks, lovie. That really does help. I hope you write about your experiences with PPD for Band Back Together.

  24. On October 25th, 2012 at 1:51 am alexis (You can call me Al) Says:

    I am most relieved that you didn’t leave us and walk toward the light, but please rest assured that should you make that journey as a consequence of a rogue refrigerator or anything else, I will volunteer my services as organist or pianist at your funeral or wake. I can help to send you off in style with a classy rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” or whatever ditty most suits you. My mom once played a song called “If You Don’t Know Me by Now, You Will Never, Never, Never Know Me” or something very similar at a memorial service in accordance with the final wishes of the dearly departed.

  25. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:42 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Bwahahahaha. I love the organ – can you do “Eye of the Tiger?”

  26. On October 25th, 2012 at 9:40 pm alexis (You can call me Al) Says:

    I just went to my mom’s organ and played “Eye of the Tiger” to ascertain that I can indeed play the song. I can. (My dad had to come in and sing along while I played, which was pretty lame.) I can do it both straight and churchy. Your mourners would have their choice.

  27. On October 25th, 2012 at 5:58 am Jolie Says:

    Lies are just twisted versions of the truth. What pisses me off is when my little brain can’t decide which way to see what’s going on around me. Is it real, or is it Memorex? Maybe it’s just me, but when I read posts like this, I feel like I’M NOT ALONE. My voices keep me isolated sometimes, and reading your posts gives me hope that this too shall pass, hope that if you can do it, so can I. Thank you for not giving up your blog, you would be sadly missed by so many. I know somewhere inside the voices is the truth, and I’m going to keep trying to sift through the BS to find it!! Take my hand, and we’ll get through this together. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:43 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    We’re going to have to – there’s no giving up!

  29. On October 25th, 2012 at 9:11 am roxie Says:

    When I don’t lie to myself, people tell me to cheer up! Also, are you finally eating?

  30. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:42 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Sometimes I am! Baby steps!

  31. On October 25th, 2012 at 9:16 am Cindy G Says:

    You, my dear AB, are so full of the awesome it’s shooting out your ass because it just can’t be contained ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have to tell you that you and The Band saw me through and helped me through the most awful, scary, self devouring, dark time. I have written about it and posted it on the band’s site. If it weren’t for you, I can’t (and refuse to) imagine where I’d be now. Where my loved ones would be now. Thank you.

    As for those pretty little lies we tell ourselves – we need them. They get us through to the next moment, the next day, the next time. Life throws us some SERIOUS bullshit. We handle it the best we can. But we keep on putting one foot in front of the other (sometimes we have teams of people holding us up to do it, but we do it none the less. And if we have a team of people, and you do and now I do too with the band, then we are BLESSED and LUCKY and WE WILL GET THROUGH IT).

    I adore you. Thank you for being you, just the way you are.

  32. On October 25th, 2012 at 12:43 pm Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Thanks, lovie, for being YOU. And for sharing your stories. They all matter – it all matters.

  33. On October 25th, 2012 at 2:55 pm Norah Says:

    Hi Aunt Becky. I have recently come back to reading your blog again, and I just wanted to let you know that I am so sorry for everything you have suffered and I appreciate your posts and your honesty so much. I really related to what you wrote here. I used to have an old blog of my own for many years but recently had to take it down due to a privacy violation – I think you may have swung by my old one a few times (This Too Shall Pass – later called Turning Pages). Anyway, I started a new one, because I don’t know, I hope that I can some how help someone through my words. You certainly help me. Thank you for that.

  34. On October 29th, 2012 at 4:13 pm @JGRWriter Says:

    RT @StellaGMaddox: The Lies We Tell Ourselves via @@mommywantsvodka

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