Pants on Fire

I’m a liar. There. I said it. Feels good to say it out loud. Although, not much of a surprise, considering I’m a [recovering] drug addict. A drug addict saying they’re lying, is like the Ocean saying it’s salty. It just comes with the territory.

I don’t remember where I first heard the saying, “How do you know when an addict is lying? Their lips are moving”, but it sure did hit home, under the covers of shame, and behind the mask of denial and reckless abandon, where I was having such fun living – for so many years.

When I was in third grade, I walked up to my sister after school and announced, very proudly, I was going to go steal, asking her if she’d like to join the fun.

“What? You shouldn’t do that. That’s wrong.”

I know, it’s so exciting 

“So, no then?” I dismissed her warning, and wanted an answer. I wasn’t keen on the fact she turned down my awesome idea, nor did I appreciate her tone in telling me I shouldn’t do it.

Some more Addict Fun Facts: telling us we shouldn’t do anything, is like giving us a personalized invitation to go ahead and touch the wall directly under the Wet Paint sign. We love breaking rules – and when someone ups the ante by waving the, “NO! you can’t/shouldn’t/aren’t allowed to!” wand, our inner-voices cackle (ok, some of us actually make the noise), and we start an open tab at the bar in Watch-me-ville.

Like Kristen Johnston shares in her hilarious new memoir, GUTS , I also believe addiction is a brain thing. I’m not saying my eight-year old Bonnie and Clyde mentality is completely proportional to my hard-wiring (all kids think about snaking a Barbie doll and candy bar from the grocery store, right?), but the fact that I took pleasure with just the thought of deceit, speaks volumes. Seven years before I snorted my first line, I already had VIP passes to Watch-me-ville, which is all part of the convoluted blueprint nestled in my cranium.

I remember his hand touching my shoulder, and realizing his face looked familiar. He was the dude watching me slip the Barbie and candy bar in my tattered, brown-suede purse with embroidered daisies on the front and tassels hanging below.

“Little girl, you need to come with me.”


I knew I was busted, and was scared shitless.

After what seemed like an eternity, sitting in the Baltic office in the back of the grocery store, I met the two policemen who were ready to take me downtown. I was handcuffed, and placed in the back seat of the police car. I don’t remember if the cops even spoke to me, but all I kept thinking was how trapped I felt. I passed the thirty minute drive-time by trying to read their lips in the front seat, through the plastic divider.

The thing about addicts and lying (and manipulation, which is the Cadillac of lying), is that no matter how many lies we tell, or who is caught in the cross fire, it’s our own selves who fall victim to our bullshit the most. On some level, we actually believe our lies. We live in denial – we aren’t addicts, we don’t have a problem, we won’t get caught, and on and on.

I used to chop coke methodically with friends, telling myself, if I don’t do this alone, I’m not an addict. When I started snorting nail-fulls alone in my room before school, my mantra changed slightly: if I only do this on the weekends, I’m not an addict. Well, you see where this is going. The line in the sand (or, eight-ball) kept moving, and it was my own denial controlling the stick.

I’m not proud of my lying past, but have no issue owning up to it. Part of who we are today, is a direct result to owning our shit from yesterday.

I live now, in my truth – and it’s an awesome feeling not having to lie – about anything.

Especially with myself.

So here’s the part where you tell me: Have you ever lied to yourself? What was it about, and what made you change?

36 thoughts on “Pants on Fire

  1. Of course I lied to myself! I lied about my sex/love addiction, I lied about my drinking, and mostly I lied about my insecurities by pushing myself to do stuff only fearless people did assuming that if I did those things, I would no longer be insecure…

    It never occurred to me that my insecurities did not lie in what I was or wasn’t DOING, but in how I perceived myself. It was a perception thing, not a doing thing. I did however end up doing some pretty awesome things… Well, awesome doesn’t always mean good for you right? Today I have mixed feelings about some of the stuff I did to convince myself I was worthy of a healthy self esteem. Part of that is shame. But as you, I am aware that this past is what lead me to be me. And there shouldn’t be any shame in that.


      1. Addiction to shame??? Oh lordy, do I need to add another darn thing to work on? Irk. I need to stop finding out about new illnesses and stuff, I always self diagnose myself with everything (I almost had myself tested for prostate cancer the other day, I’m a mess)

        just kidding. kind of. but yeah…


        1. It’s true! The whole “addicted to shame” thing is real. It’s all about self worth..but you already know that!

          OMG – prostate cancer?! Do you Google your ailments like me?!

          It’s all good. Hot mess is the new black.


  2. This is fantastic. After 39 years of lying about almost everything to everyone at all times, I’ve been surprised how quickly I’ve taken to total, blunt honesty.
    Of course, not everyone else is as thrilled with my evolution as I am.
    Especially the Queen of Lies, my dear mama….who, I’m afraid would MUCH rather I use & lie about it that be in recovery and tell the truth.
    She would never admit this, even to herself.

    Regardless, the most stunning aspect to my sobriety has been my abrupt, seamless transformation into a truth-teller.

    You’re a marvelous writer, Christine. I can’t wait for your book.


    Kristen Johnston


    1. There’s something so liberating about lifting that veil of deceit, isn’t there!? Wow – I think our moms are sisters!

      Thanks for stopping by and for your lovely words. Your book GUTS is phenomenal, and very inspiring. It’s making me laugh, cry and nod in agreement, while mouthing the words: ME TOO!

      Grateful we met through the wonderful, World Wide Web. xxoo


  3. Honesty is the first thing that goes when you are a practicing addict…you can’t use everyday and not lie…and in my experience (which is rather vast spanning nearly 30 odd years of active, addiction) it always starts with lying to ones self. The more frequently you do it the easier it gets though i think deep in my sub-conscience I knew it was wrong but I had no choice. Procuring dope became the single focus of my life next to using it. If protecting my ability to do it required lying…so be it.

    On another note C…i can’t wait for the book, it is automatic that I’ll read it. I’m not sure we always need the “dangled tease” of an unfinished story to encourage us to read the book kiddo….Sometimes I think it might be cool to finish a story once in awhile. I understand PR but I think most of your blog readers are hooked…and don’t plan on going anywhere. Just my two cents and it may not be worth that, lol!

    Great post and a very relevant subject. Peace to you in HUGE doses…


  4. I’m in recovery, too
    Does that answer the question?
    Seriously, I must’ve lied to myself a couple of times a day before
    Now, it’s probably only a couple of times a week and today’s lies are a lot less harmful
    But I still have to call myself out or I’ll be right back in the shit again
    Finding a power greater than myself helps me a lot


  5. You knit together words so delicately, I feel like I was right there with you lying, stealing and doing drugs. You are such an amazing writer. Come on book!

    Lying? I, like Kristen, am more of an over-truther. Don’t ask me if your jeans look too tight if you only want to hear one answer…. xo Lina


  6. If lying also encapsulates never having mentioned something that is very significant to one’s makeup to people and the loves who are close to you…….well then, I continue to be the best of liars.


  7. I think that it is great that Kristen stopped by..! I wish that I could say that I lived in the kind of denial that others claim to have overcome, but I can’t. I think that the way competitiveness works for me, forces me to be honest in making assessments and judgments of others and myself. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your writing and that I am looking forward to your book… it is so cool to hear stories of people overcoming obstacles, be it a disability, tragedy, or themselves..!


  8. Three years ago, my wife and I had the “drug and alcohol” talk with my then 13-year-old daughter. My wife immediately threw me under the buss because I’m recovering from coke and whiskey issues.

    For the first time in over ten years I confronted the lies I’d told and the damage i’d done to peopel who still friend equested me on facebook.

    Being an honest, transparent parent has led me to also being abetter former boozer and druggie.

    Great blog post


  9. If telling your intuition to shut the hell up counts as lying to yourself, I did it for the first 30 years of my life. This mostly amounted to staying in relationships I shouldn’t have. It’s amazing how empowering honesty is.


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