August 10, 2023

Are you living a lie?

Are you living on auto pilot and bored with your life? Have you forgotten what makes your soul sing, or how to be happy anymore? Have you sacrificed most of your dreams and desires and are constantly exhausted?  Do you feel alone and your smile hides a constant pain?  Is your self worth measured by how other’s perceive you, and are you fed up with trying to be someone you are not?  These are all signs that you are living a lie and not being your authentic self.

I was living a lie for a long time. I didn’t mean to, or want to, in fact I even fought it for a time, but it just slowly happened. By trying to fit in with society’s expectations and be the person everyone expected me to be, my personality changed into someone I didn’t recognise. It started with little enhancements, trying to appear confident when I was not, hiding the truth when ashamed, hiding my flaws. I know exactly when it started. It was during an important relationship with some one I looked up to. What I wanted out of life took a back seat to what he wanted. It wasn’t all his fault. I wanted to please him. I wanted to fit in with his friends. I wanted the relationship to work. My low self worth believed him when he said I was wrong or needed to change.

I later changed in a job. I was good at my job and wanted promotion but my ‘bolshy’ self wasn’t acceptable for high office and so I dampened my fires, I changed my behaviour to become acceptable. I changed how I dressed. I went out for drinks socially with people I didn’t even like. I even had a boyfriend later that I knew I despised (when the real me was conscious , which wasn’t very often). I remember practicing my speech and facial expressions in the mirror to get the right look if I was meeting someone important. When job applications asked me to describe myself, I didn’t know who I was and so the lie continued and I put what was expected. When I then got the job I then had to behave like that. The real me was hidden and lost by now, anyway.

I constantly felt bored and was sad all of the time, but obviously I hid this in public. It wouldn’t have fitted in with the facade. Deep down I didn’t have anything in common with the people around me. Fitting in and acquiring status and material things didn’t fulfil me. It was never going to, as deep down it was not the values of the real me. I can remember sitting on my bed and looking in the wardrobe mirror and actually saying to myself ‘who are you? ‘.

The thing is, you don’t know you are playing a role, you don’t know you are lying as it has all become a tangled part of you. Your brain has rationalised stuff and your ego has been trying to protect you. The only time I was my real self was when I played with kids. It was acceptable for the facade to come down then as that was seen as playing a role in my job, but in fact it was the real me. The trouble is, when you realise that you are living a lie, how can you just dismantle it? I was successful as far as people were concerned. I had the house, the car and the good job, the status. I would be nothing without them. What would people think? What would it do to my children? I had been lying to myself as well as others and my whole world, and that of my children, balanced on a fantasy.

However as I became conscious of it through self reflection, I knew this deceit was making me ill. Denial and self deception were literally sucking the life out of me and I couldn’t keep up the pretence any more. When I finally decided to rid myself of this lie in 2010, and find out who I really was, it was like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. I didn’t know if I was going to survive the descent, but I did. I lost friends and I lost family.  I was no longer who they wanted me to be and could not be manipulated any more.  My children, however, supported me as they had seen the ‘real me’ when playing. It was so worth it though. I have been so much happier these past 13 years.  Ironically more people accept me now, and actually like me because I am being my authentic self.  I no longer care that those that I used to try and impress would probably look down on my life now.  As long as I am happy, what does it matter?

The red flags were there at the beginning but I ignored them. Now and then I would become conscious of the lie, but I would dismiss it and put it to the back of my brain. I so wished I had realised and taken action before it was too late. It would have saved me from wasting a lot of my life in misery.  However, on a positive note, at least I did realise, as some people, and I suspect my Mum was one of them, never do. People ask me now why I talk and write about my flaws, and think I am putting myself down. I am not. I am just making sure that I am not sucked into that lie of people pleasing, and trying to be accepted, ever again.

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  1. Clare Lamberti August 10, 2023 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Wow that’s deep Toni , but I totally get where you’re coming from and I do think it takes maturity to know who you really are , you can try to be someone else but ultimately the real you will always win

    • ToniG August 11, 2023 at 7:57 am - Reply

      True, or you will be unhappy in your own skin. Thanks for commenting x

  2. Francie Fuhrel August 10, 2023 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Sounds like me many years ago too. Thanks for bringing up this subject and talking about it. It helps to reflect and try to see if any of that has snuck back into my life. Hmmmmm. Don’t think so! I’m on a pretty good road these days at 77. But it’s good to be reminded that it was so easy to serve others at my own expense. And I didn’t have to. I chose to. Better days now!

    • ToniG August 11, 2023 at 7:56 am - Reply

      I am so pleased that when you reflected that you found yourself still on the right track now.
      Thanks for commenting x

  3. Kathryn Naden August 10, 2023 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you Toni your honesty is really humbling . I can identify with living a lie . Been there & worn the T shirt & grateful to be here still smiling & the freedom to be able to live a life of my choosing now & still learning more about myself every day . Xx

    • ToniG August 11, 2023 at 7:54 am - Reply

      I am so pleased for you that you could change your life, and I admire that you are constantly
      learning and make the most of your life now x

  4. Jean Radugan August 10, 2023 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    A very honest, insightful and well written piece Toni. So much of what you’ve said here could have been written about me.

    • ToniG August 11, 2023 at 7:52 am - Reply

      Aww thanks, and thanks for commenting. I like you just the way you are now x

  5. Wendy Hallett August 11, 2023 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Painful to read but beautifully written. I was offered counselling after my 2008 breakdown but it was never for me . Becoming self aware, warts and all helped more. I really understand the “masking” you get to a point where you don’t recognise yourself anymore. Living simply and revaluating all my relationships , strengthening those that were important, ditching and being ditched by those that weren’t was very eye opening. Thank you 🙏 x

    • ToniG August 11, 2023 at 7:51 am - Reply

      I agree counselling was not right for me, either, but some life coaching helped, and doing lots of self reflection and self care. Yes with friendships it was weird. Some seemed to revel in the fact that I had broken down. I am glad that you are now stronger and have used the lesson from your body to make life better for yourself x

  6. Sue August 11, 2023 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    I really admire what you have achieved. You said in your post, ” Fitting in and acquiring status and material things didn’t fulfil me. It was never going to, as deep down it was not the values of the real me.” That’s exactly how I feel now with the people I work with. I work in a place surrounded by people who constantly compete for the best cars, biggest houses, designer clothes etc etc. Because I’m not like that and I just be myself, I don’t get invited to weddings, nights out etc (I wouldn’t go if I was!) They are always talking about things they’ve seen on Social Media which I hate and don’t use at all. I try to get on with everyone and remain pleasant to them. I’ve had to cut off certain family members and friends as they had a toxic effect on me. (My supposedly best friends who deliberately stayed away from me when my Mom died!) I can hopefully finish working full time very soon thankfully and finally clear my head of all the rubbish I hear all the time!

    • ToniG August 11, 2023 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Fingers crossed that you can reduce your hours soon. Thanks for sharing x

  7. Lynda October 2, 2023 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    I absolutely love this post, I am slowly but surely finding myself, day by day I am doing something just for me and if people don’t like it, tough. Unfortunately there are times that includes hubby, as we get older we just don’t seem to gel anymore.
    He wants one thing and I know deep down it’s not for me, so I will eventually have to speak up.
    I gave up a very stressful, manic job as a civil servant and most of the people there were such back stabbers and it’s so sad to see.
    I think the 5 grateful things per day is something I will start to do.
    Thank you for your wonderful posts and encouragement.

    • ToniG October 9, 2023 at 6:41 am - Reply

      I am so pleased for you that you are starting to find yourself. Sometimes, unfortunately, that does mean that we grow further apart from those that are closest to us. I hope that you can come to a compromise with hubby. Yes I experienced a lot of back stabbers too, but it made me strong and resilient and I have the last laugh now because I am happy and they are all still working in the same environment. The gratitude exercise really does change your mindset if done consistently for a while. Good luck. You have got this. PS sorry for the late reply. x

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