Narcissism And Lying

Me and the truth have an uneasy alliance.

We’ve all heard the saying that there are only two things that are sure in life: Death and taxes. I think we can safely add one to that list. Narcissists lie.

Narcissism and lying go hand in hand.

My father lied about everything. He lied to benefit himself. He lied in attempts to make himself to appear more important. He lied when there was no good goddamn reason to lie.

Any event my family attneded was anxiety filled for all of us because we knew we had to sit silently while he bragged about trips that didn’t happen or money we didn’t have or accomplishments that we didn’t accomplish. We knew that everyone around us knew he was lying. It was humiliating.

He even had a nickname at work. ‘Honest John’. He bragged about his nickname. Even as a child, I knew his co-workers meant the nickname in an ironic way. Not him though, he took it as a compliment.

When I was a kid, he continuously told me about the importance of telling the truth. The truth should be valued above all else. Then, he lied about everything.

It’s no wonder that I’ve had a weird relationship with honesty.

One skill I’ve gained from this is a bizarre knack for remembering words. I can’t remember where I put my debit card, my keys, or my fucking bifocals half the time, but if I have a conversation, I can recite it back verbatim. Even long ones. I remember lines from movies or song lyrics..even if I haven’t seen the movie or heard the song for decades.

I think that I developed this ability at a young age as a defense mechanism. If I paid close attention to what people said and remembered it, then I had a fighting change at having some sort of grasp on reality.

As far as I know, this skill hasn’t really gained me much but frustration. I fucking REMEMBER what people say. They don’t always remember.  I don’t think that (in most cases) people are lying when they say “I didn’t say that’ or ‘that’s not what I said, what I said was <fill in the blank>’.  I think in most cases, they just don’t remember.

But I do.

I guess it’s helped me win a few arguments with Randy, but mostly, winning an argument over something dumb isn’t really a win, is it?

For many years, I inflated or invented events. I didn’t WANT to, but I felt compelled to. Lying never made me feel good, but the fact that it made me feel bad didn’t stop me from lying. When I finally gave lying up and decided to live my actual life, it wasn’t because I suddenly became more virtuous.

I was just tired of juggling real life with my pretend life. It was fucking exhausting.

I find, however, even after decades of making a conscious effort to be truthful, that I often catch myself on the verge of a lie…even after all these years. I’ve tried to be cognizant of this and what I’ve found is that I tend to want exaggerate to people who are dismissive of me. People like my father. This both pisses me off and saddens me. When will I stop needing approval from people who aren’t able to give it? I am hopeful, though. I believe that if I recognize it, then I can work toward eliminating it.

Life is really hard, y’all.

Another skill that I’ve developed from living with a person who lied all the time, is it’s fairly easy for me to spot a lie. I don’t usually get angry when a person lies. Mostly, I am just curious. Why would they lie about THAT?

It’s not hard to spot a lie, most people suck at it.

When I hear someone lie, I don’t assume that they have narcissistic personality disorder, but I do wonder why they are lying. I do want to tell them to just stop. Not because what they are doing is bad…but because their life will be so much easier without it.

I think it’s human nature to inflate the truth. Sometimes, lies are necessary to spare feelings or to circumvent some unpleasantness. Lying to manipulate a situation is a shitty thing to do, but that’s something else I think we’ve all done at least a few times in our lives.

In short, we’re all big fat liars.

It just becomes an issue when we lose the ability to control it or lose sight of what the actual truth is and buy into our own lies. And it’s absolutely horrible when we use lies to hurt people.

If you’ve been affected by narcissism and find that you are uneasy with the words that come from your mouth, please take some time to consider why you are lying. If you can let it go and try to live more honestly, please do. It’s so much easier.

You don’t NEED the lies. I promise, you ARE valid without them.



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  • Boy does that hit it right on the nose! I’m in the middle of getting all the lies out myself and it is HARD to do sometimes. But you are 100% right in that there is very little need for it most of the time. I think back to some of the bullshit that has come out of my mouth and just think “what in the hell were you thinking?!? That doesn’t even make any sense!” It’s so much more liberating to be free of juggling all of the lies.

    Another solid post, Michelle. 🙂

    • Thank you, Rocco. Admitting that we lie is some hard fucking shit to own up really is. I think what is important is to NOT be hard on ourselves. We do these things for a reason. When we recognize that and make an effort to change, then that is cause to congratulate ourselves for wanting to improve..not a reason to tear ourselves down for having faults.

  • OMG…another thing we have in common!! My mother she didn’t lie like your father did, but I think she is a liar AND I went through a period of time when I totally made up stories and/or exaggerated them in order to feel important and valid. Years ago I wrote a blog post about it and I ended up including it in my book. I can say for sure that being aware of this, and then practicing giving yourself validation and/or getting it from those who are glad to give it makes a world of difference. The key is to know that it’s not like flipping a switch…it takes a little back and forth…catching yourself sooner, etc.

    • absolutely, it’s a hard habit to break because it just becomes a part of you. LIke I said, it’s been years, yet I still catch myself more often than I would like.

  • “If I paid close attention to what people said and remembered it, then I had a fighting chance at having some sort of grasp on reality.”–YES. Exactly this!

    I probably never looked at it that way, but I totally did that. Ah shared experiences of the children of narcissists.

  • Ah, yes. We always thought it was just my dad being the King of BS, but this makes sense. And yes, I totally remember the stories of things that never happened, places he’s never been, wars he never fought in, and celebrities he never actually met and/or jammed with. He ALSO knows where Blackbeard’s Treasure actually is hidden–just in case the Discovery Channel ever wants to quit fooling and get serious about finding it (*snort*). When I write my family’s history stories, I have to be sure I check facts with my aunt, who was THERE, because his versions, while interesting, are hardly admissable.

    Also the overamplification of anything I achieved (and I was an over-achiever kid)–always to HIS credit. Straight A’s at school?–yes. High-Point at the horse show?–yes again. Not that he was ever there to help me with ANY OF THAT STUFF EVER.

    And I hear you, about the lies about stuff that doesn’t matter? What is the point of that? I always think it must be hard to remember which lies he’s told to which people.

    I guess, on a positive note, it does make it easier to spot a BS-er. Now my husband and I just will look at each other, when we meet someone like this, and mouth “He’s my DAD”, and we know what it means: Caution–Definite BS Ahead.

    • Then you know EXACTLY what I mean. That is him. Blackbeards treasure…that is priceless. Absolutely priceless. I found for years that I would repeat ‘facts’ and as soon as the words were out of my mouth I would realize that it was complete bullshit and that I was just reciting something he had said. I think I’ve cycled through them all. It does make you question everything you know, though..

      • I say we get some gear and go find that treasure. I think it’s just nooorrrthh of where the Official Blackbeard Interpretive Center is, probably right in plain sight.

        And yeah, the family history does leave people speechless, if you tell his versions. Fun at parties, though. LOL

        • hahaah…I am still mortified by how fucking stupid my dad’s lies were. I don’t repeat them. Maybe I should. It might be good for me. And yes, let’s go get that treasure. I’m buying my own island with my share

  • My mom used to rerun conversations in her head and change things and in the end what she imagined became the truth to her.

    But she was a drunk, and usually drunk when she did these things.

    Later, once all us kids had grown and my parents divorced, all that disappeared. She still drank a lot, but for a different reason, I think.

    Weird how we can be so old yet still be so affected by the shit that went on when we were kids.

  • Does anyone else notice that they lie so well (or so often), that it’s as if they ABSOLUTELY believe their own lies–at least, at the time they’re telling them?? Crocodile tears, even. What a relief to know it’s not just me.

    • My dad lied all the time…but he was SO over the top that he was not believable..although, he did lie about little things as well. He was able to snow a lot of people..but never for long, he just couldn’t help himself…he’d have to keep upping the ante until his lies were just ridiculous.

  • “For many years, I inflated or invented events. I didn’t’t WANT to, but I felt compelled to. Lying never made me feel good, but the fact that it made me feel bad didn’t’t stop me from lying.”

    I’m no expert, but I bet that is similar to how your father felt. We so often feel like we are competing with others…trying to keep up with the Jones you might say. I have family members that lie all the time and everyone knows it. The truth is, their life is hard and they’ve made mistakes that continue to cost them. I think those things make them feel compelled to lie. It’s a vicious cycle, because everyone knows your lying.

    • The difference though, is that I admit that I inflated things…I learned the behavior from him without the added disadvantage of having narcissistic personality disorder. I don’t think lying made him feel bad…I think he was so broken that he became this person who used deceit and cruelty to get what he wanted at the cost of everything. Especially his daughters. It consumed him and turned him into the damaging adult that he was. He would still be acting out the same way now if he weren’t brain damaged.

  • My ex lied from the second I met him…about some fairly fundamental things, a lot of which I’m only beginning to come to terms with. I’ve always had a very good memory of events, but it never helps against someone who totally believes their own fantasy. Whether my ability to recall things with clarity is the result of my childhood or just a good memory I don’t know. However I can’t ignore that it seems like it is another shared trait of children of Narcs.

    • Mine only revolves around words. Conversations, songs, movies and books. Randy used to like to play the game where he would read the actors in a movie and I could tell him what the movie was pretty quick…even if it was 30 years old or more.And even if I had never seen the movie..if I had seen the trailer for the movie, then that was usually enough.

      Also, one time, he said I wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying, and I perfectly quoted the whole conversation back to him. It freaked him out a little. He’s used to it now, though.

      • Yep, I do the book thing too, and music as well obviously, though I’m not as crack at it these days. My primary school discovered I had an eidetic memory fairly early on, which is why I’m not sure if it is just a natural thing for me.

  • My father’s lies have always been fairly subtle in that they are usually exaggerations blown out of proportion but usually based somewhere in fact. But now my brother has stepped way off the cliff into totally fantasy land. He just makes stuff up. We’ll be sitting at family dinners and he will be telling stories about our childhood, that I was present for, that never even happened. They are always ridiculous, fantastic stories of the most amazing things too. My mother and I just usually look at each other and roll our eyes.

    I’ve never asked my SIL if she believes this nonsense.

  • I lied to my massage therapist once when I had to change an appointment last minute. I said I had a friend coming into town. Then when I was on the massage table she asked me how my friend was and I totally had forgotten the lie and froze up. I was sure she could sense my dishonesty coming right through my skin.

    I usually make it a practice not to lie, not because I’m all that virtuous, I just need to accommodate my bad memory. And the fact that I drink a lot makes it hard to remember the details of a lie. Neither drinking nor forgetfulness get in the way of my narcism though. 🙂

    • exactly…we always get caught.

      Pretty sure we ALL are narcissist or have some narcissistic tendencies, we are human. It’s when the narcissism becomes an illness and destroys lives that it’s an issue.

  • i am working through your narcissist postings.
    my God you nailed it on so many levels.

    i literally had a lump in my throat reading about your father.
    my stomach tightened and my blood pressure went up. i felt it just reading your words. that’s powerful shit right there.

    your words… the lying father… that was my childhood in a nutshell and for the rest of my dealings with my mother.

    she has passed, it’s been 5 yrs and i am not sad she is dead. she wasn’t mother material she had no business having children.

    the stress and anxiety she cast over me has made some fucked up shit in my life.
    it’s been such a drain to work through. do we ever really get to the other side of their shit?

    when i was growing up i’d be forced to sit there and listen to her boldface lies about nothing about EVERYTHING in front of people. it was one of her little things she’d do. the worst when she would turn to me and say…. just ask tracie, she was there, she knows.
    fuck me!
    and i also knew that her audience knew she was lying. so then i was a liar by association. pile on the fucked up guilt.
    how does a child learn to trust their own instincts when this is how you are raised!
    how does one learn to trust their own sense of right from wrong when there’s such conflict with the truth!

    my mother was also a drunk, but there was a time when she was just a narcissist with a side order of liar.
    the drunk part she honed over the years. highly functioning, but a drunk just the same.
    that combination was taken to a level of insanity i can hardly begin to articulate here.
    she also birthed a mini version of herself who i have washed my hands of.
    i just can’t have that toxic shit in my life.

    i believe in the truth. simple truths. that was a long road but I AM a truth teller. i am not my mother’s or anyones lie keeper.

    just a fantastic blog!

    • Thank you so much and I am so very sorry that you had to deal with that bullshit. It IS so very toxic and horrible and damaging.

      I believe in truth as well. It’s not always EASY..but it does bring a peace of mind that eluded me most of my life.

      I don’t know how we come out on the other side..I don’t know if we do or not. I do know that it’s been getting easier for me, so that is nice.

By Michelle


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