Learnings of shame, self-worth, and dishonesty

Learnings of shame, self-worth, and dishonesty

I’m in the process of lining up a mental health specialist to hopefully start helping me in ways that my current and past doctors haven’t been able to. Without going into a tirade, I’ll just say that the mental healthcare system can be quite a journey. Anyways, in this process, I’ve started writing a list of the mental health and neurodiversity challenges I deal with—including those that I’ve struggled to share with any doctor, or really any person, in the past.

A few of the challenges on that list were related to my forgetfulness, impulsiveness, a poor sense of time, and difficulty in organizing, planning, and prioritizing. All of these things have been hard for me to deal with since I was a child in school, but in the past few years they’ve become particularly challenging at work, and while at home as a parent.

When difficult situations come up as a result of those challenges, instead of owning up for my mistakes or shortcomings, or being honest about them, my natural reaction is to avoid, lie, or cover it up. And I hate lying—especially as a person that despises when other people lie to me. But as I was doing more thinking earlier, I wondered—why do I lie? Why is it so hard to just tell the truth?

I lie because it’s so much easier to cover it up than say “I’m so sorry. I forgot to do what you asked me to do. I’m honestly trying as hard as I can, but I’m really overwhelmed and could use some help”. If I said that, I feel like I would be looked down upon, a failure, that I wasn’t good enough. I wouldn’t be able to handle the possibility of being rejected or looked at that way, it would be both embarrassing and shameful.

So I’d rather just avoid it and lie—lying, avoiding, and hiding is how I’ve learned to defend and protect myself since I was a child. When being picked on by other kids at school for making weird sounds or faces that I couldn’t control, it was way easier to hide instead of speak up. In the rare cases that I did muster the courage to speak up, I would either get shut down by my bullies, or punished by my teacher for saying “shut up” to them in hopes they’d leave me alone. Then I’d get home and my dad would criticize me for not paying attention or forgetting something. He’d often react by saying “damn you” or “it’s right in front of your face!” and make me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I’d lie or avoid to prevent being a further disappointment and failure to his eyes.

Over the years I’ve come to learn the consequences of lying, avoiding, and hiding in situations where I don’t need to, or could have reacted differently. I’ve lost relationships this way, it’s affected my work life, how I interact with others, and much more.

I’m going to try and hide less, avoid less, and lie less, and instead be honest. I don’t want to do any of that, it doesn’t feel good—above all, I value honesty with myself, and with others. Reminding myself of some of the above past experiences and how I’ve reacted to them doesn’t need be negative or scary. They are simply reminders of my strength and that I am a good person. They give me an opportunity to think about how I can react to things differently, while also holding forgiveness. ❤️