Fibromyalgia, parenting, love and loss

Posts tagged ‘Thoughts’

The Quiet

hole in the ground

Diving into the ground again
Pulling the earth over my head
No light enters and sound doesn’t reach me
Numbness is my only companion

There’s nothing to be done
No plans to make
No fears to be had
No smiles to share
No tears to shed

There is only the darkness
And what’s left of me
Until I disappear altogether

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Where did my 30’s go?

My 20’s involved my letting go of an abusive lover, realizing I was a raging alcoholic, struggling through a grueling nursing school program that was more like boot camp, and oh yeah-getting married.  I also had my first child at 27 and finally graduated college within a year of his birth.  Much of it sucked but parts of it were glorious (i.e. giving birth to my beautiful boy).  I wasn’t sad to leave my 20’s behind and move gracefully into my 30’s.  During those years, I had three more boys, left my husband of 16 years and found love with R.  I entered the world of the “work outside the home” moms and learned to stand on my own two feet.  For the first time, I paid the rent, bought a car, forced myself to show up daily for a job I hated, and had all those other responsibilities that make one feel self-sufficient and adult.  I also began my struggle with depression, although I did not realize it at the time.

Now here I sit at 42, wondering how in the hell I became this age.  I don’t think I look 42.  People tell me I don’t look older than my mid-30’s (god bless them and Botox), and I certainly do not feel 42 most of the time.  I mean, c’mon, I have a nose ring for chrissakes!  I listen to rock music (loudly), recently discovered I like Eminem and drop the F bomb more often than I probably should.  I’m a mom of 5 fabulous kids, I work in a very granola crunchy environment.    My mom seemed old at my age!  She was repressed and conservative and all the things I am not.  She was a Southern Baptist and the worst curse word uttered from her God-fearing lips was “damn!”  She couldn’t have possibly ever had sex. 

The thing is, I always thought I would move into my later years with grace.  I could easily see myself in my 60’s, working in my garden, traveling, imparting wisdom to the younger generation, and not worrying about the lines on my face.  The reality is that I still hope to continue to grow and become more enlightened.  I’d like to keep working in jobs that truly help other people.  I wish be the best mom to my kids I can be, and a good mate for R.  I just don’t want to get older while doing so!  I don’t want my body to become flabby or my face to sag.  I still need to feel sexy and vibrant and desired.  Hell yes-when I buy my non-alcoholic beer in the grocery store, I want you to card me!  And go piss off if you do not!  I cringe when anyone calls me ma’am.  They mean no harm, I know.  They’re just being respectful.  Yet when I hear it, in my mind they are just saying “you’re really old.” 

I feel as if I am being dragged kicking and screaming into an age that I vehemently oppose.  My parents always said about aging that “it’s better than the alternative,” and I understand that logic.  Hell, maybe I’m just vain and I need to get over it already.  I should focus more on spiritual and emotional growth and less on what I look like.  I’m not a shallow person-never have been.  So why am I struggling so much with this?  Where’s the elusive grace I’m supposed to have at this stage of my life?  Why do I care so much if others  me attractive?  All those 20 somethings I’m so envious now will one day be my age, too.  It happens to all of us lucky enough to survive this long.  I guess I’m just surprised by my reaction to it.  I never thought it would be painful to say goodbye to my youth.  I just don’t know how to say goodbye to it when in my head, I still feel so young.

Trying to be comfortable in an “I don’t know” frame of mind.

I consider myself somewhat bohemian.  I listen to my gut for guidance and don’t put a lot of stock in what others tell me I should believe or do.  However, even having this hippie nature, I also like to know what to expect on some level in my life.  I don’t like rigidity, but certain consistencies make me feel a sense of security that is meaningful to me.  I like knowing, or at least hoping, that there are certain people in my world I can count on no matter what. I have had so much drama in my life over the past five years.  I obviously wanted it to be there or it would never have made its presence known.  I called it into being.  So now I am and have been on the vibration of drawing that to myself.  It’s time to break the cycle.  I need peace.  I need joy.  I need love and acceptance.  I need to not just be loved, but to be truly liked, flaws and all.

I’ve handed my power over to my work, to my mate,  to all these external people rather than holding on for dear life to it and calling it my own.  Those of you who have followed any of my posts know I’ve had major relationship and depression struggles for some time now.  Add to that the work stress I’ve been dealing with and frankly, I cannot take any more.  My stomach is burning more often than it’s not, I’m taking Valium on a semi-regular basis (when I’m out of my kava root supplement) to help level me off.  I keep saying I’m going to get back into meditating, but then I self-sabotage and don’t follow through.  I commute three hours a day, work full-time, then go home to take care of my 5 kids.  I adore them; they are my soul and my blessings.  Each and every one of them were wanted and treasured and always will be.  The fatigue is worth it for them.  My children are the only people in this lifetime I’ve known who love me unconditionally and I love them unconditionally.  Thank God for them.  I watch them grow, hear how intelligent and funny they are, and know that they make the world a better place with their presence.  They add meaning and richness to my life.  I wish I could say that this knowledge makes all the petty (and even gut-wrenching) stuff less painful, but that wouldn’t be entirely honest.  The internal pain has been immense.  My long buried eating disorder has surfaced, my stomach burns whenever I think of something stressful, and I even thought for sure this time that R and I would split.

We’ve tried to get past his infidelity, but then the past month we just shut down completely.  It started with an argument and a “you’re not hearing me, you’re not meeting my needs” kind of talk, and then we basically became co-parents and roommates and that was it.  Now we are finding our way back from that, but it’s all so tenuous.  I realize that some relationship just aren’t easy-they’re volatile and passionate a lot of the time.  There’s always the hope that “This time, it’ll work.  We’ll make it.”  We’re communicating more, and trying to do this without arguing.  We’re also trying to really “hear” the other person.  These are all positives and signs of improvement.  People can grow, right?  Or do we ultimately revert back to our fallible, neurotic selves?  How do we fully give our heart back to someone who has broken it so many times before?  And if we do this, does this make us completely foolish?

Perfection

I was raised in a home where appearances meant quite a lot.  My mom was often found in the kitchen weighing her food on her white Weight Watchers scale.  She couldn’t even walk down the mall without stopping at one of those infernal scales you often find there.  God forbid she had gained a couple of pounds; the world would tilt on its axis.  Where my father was concerned, life was all about being the most intelligent.  He had a borderline genius IQ, and he expected a lot from my sister and me.  She was older, made straight A’s in school, and was a virgin until after high school even though she dated the same boy all through high school.  How could I compete with her?  She took the pressure off me somewhat, but still…in my mind, I was never as intelligent as she.  I was the popular one, into hairstyles, makeup, clothing and boys.  That was the role I took on.  I struggled in mathematics, while my sister eventually earned her Master’s degree in Statistics.  In the world in which I was raised, if you were not talented in math and science, you were ignorant.  Nevermind the fact that I excelled in English Literature and French, and loved to write poetry.  Those things weren’t indicative of intelligence to my father.  Mom often said “You’re just like me-not good at math.”  So, that’s what I believed.  It didn’t even occur to me that the block could’ve been in my head, not based in reality.

I started rebelling against my all-too conservative parents around age 12.  I had my own views on things.  I am sure I was a pain in the ass-stubborn to a fault and I certainly smarted off to my mom more than I should have.  I seldom did to my father, though, because I was always somewhat afraid of him.  Now that I have a teen with a penchant for smarting off to me, I feel karma has come around for sure.  I always loved to sing, and so piano teacher mother that I had, she enrolled me in voice lessons.  During my very first recital, I walked up onstage, saw my parents and sister looking up at me from the audience, and began crying while attempting to sing “The Lonely Ash Grove.”  I knew they were all mortified, for I had embarrassed them.  I managed to get through the song, but after that fiasco, I quit voice lessons.  I eventually began lessons again with a different teacher, but again I quit prior to recital time.  I’ve never sung publicly since that awful recital, even though it’s been a dream of mine to be a singer for as long as I can recall.

I started making myself vomit when I was around age 17.  My friends were built with the enviable stick legs I always wished I’d been born with, and I guess I thought that if I starved myself enough, I’d end up with them as well.  I would not eat breakfast or lunch, but then I’d eat dinner and a snack and make myself throw up.  Sometimes I would vomit 4-5 times per day.  The weight came off (I was never overweight to begin with), and at some point my mom realized what I was doing, but she never really did anything about it.  That doesn’t really make sense to me, as a parent now.  She was naive, though, and maybe that’s the reason for her inaction.  I loved the sense of control I had over what I put in my body and what I allowed my body to digest.  I felt more attractive than ever, and was completely and utterly obsessed with food and losing weight.  During this time, I had a boyfriend that I saw through most of high school.  He was older and quite good to me most of the time.  I think he knew what I was doing as well; he certainly noticed I was losing weight.

Fast forward to about five years later, when I was newly married and living in Oklahoma (I grew up in West Texas).  My then-husband and I flew home to see my parents, and the first thing my mom said to me was “I thought you said you lost weight.”  Great to see you too, mom.  I was overweight then because I was a practicing alcoholic.  If you drink at least 12 beers a day, guess what?  You’re going to gain weight.  No way around it.  So admittedly, I was fat.  I knew it and I hated it.  During that same visit, I was chatting in the kitchen with my parents.  I tried to jump up onto the kitchen counter to sit, as I’d done hundreds of times growing up.  I couldn’t lift myself, and my dad said “You can’t lift yourself up there” while laughing.  While on the same lovely visit, we were somehow talking about driver licenses, and my mom asked to see mine.  When I showed her the photo on my license, she made a face.  I can’t recall what she said, but she didn’t need to say anything.  She never did; it was always written all over her face.  The photo was horrid because my face looked fat.  Shortly after this trip, I got sober because I knew I was an alcoholic and headed for destruction, and the weight fell off.  I began working out, cooking healthy food, I was in nursing school, and I really turned things around.  My marriage flourished and my parents were proud of me.  I was afraid to do anything to disappoint them or damage our happy relationship.

Thus began my many years of pretending to be the perfectly happy wife and eventually mother, too.  I kept my spiritual and political views to myself when talking to my parents on the phone (I lived in Oklahoma, Kansas and Washington state during my marriage), I stifled my bohemian nature and morphed into the person I thought I was and should be.  What others thought of me mattered a great deal.  I remember one time, I had to run to the store at night.  I was very pregnant and didn’t have my wedding ring on.  I was horrified that someone at the store would think I was unmarried and pregnant!  This is particularly funny to me now, as I sit here typing while nearly 8 months pregnant and unmarried-funny how life works out.

I, of course, am concerned with losing the weight once I have my baby.  I’m pretty confident that I will struggle with body dysmorphia throughout my life.  I will always think that bones sticking out look better than fat.  Sick, I know, but that’s just the way I see things.  I always hoped to be one of those women who would age gracefully, grow gray, not get plastic surgery and be fine with it all.  Before I became pregnant, I had Botox and Juvederm done.  Vain as it must sound, I’ll do it again after I have my baby.  I understand that I will probably never look good enough to suit myself, and I absolutely believe that it’s completely superficial.  There’s always that voice in my head, though that tells me I need to be the prettiest, the thinnest, the most intelligent, the most creative, the best mother, and on and on.  I wonder if there will ever be a point at which I allow myself to believe and truly feel that mediocrity is really okay-that no one is keeping score anymore and the competition at this stage of the game is only in my own mind.

You know the song “Marry Me?”

I hear that song on the radio on a regular basis, and it brings tears to my eyes every time. Now, I’m not a big sap (most of the time), but there’s something about it that moves me. I think of the man I love, and I know that I will never hear him say those words to me. “Marry me.” So simple. It’s just two words, but those two words represent so much, don’t they? Hope. Love. Promise. Commitment. Family.

He is my family; I know that. We have been together for four years now, through more ups and downs that I can recall at 8 o’clock on this rather chilly Seattle morning. R has told me numerous times that marrying me would in no way deepen or change the love he already feels for me. To him, marriage really is just paperwork, and he’s never been a big fan of paperwork! There’s no need for this declaration in his world, and I understand that. The fact that he’s not exactly traditional is one of the things I love most about him.

So, why does that song bring me to tears every time? It’s because I know that the man I love most doesn’t want to marry me. He’ll never say those words or sing that song to me. We will never share that moment in time. We will never have that day of vows and hopes and promises made. I’ll never take his last name, and while I sometimes refer to him as my husband (and he refers to me as his wife), we will never legally be that to each other. There’s a certain sadness in that realization.

I’ve been married, and part of me doesn’t really want that again. There’s a side to it that’s too traditional, too practical, and thus lacking in romance. Add to that the fact that he has many things in his past to clean up which would affect me credit-wise if I did marry him, and it makes perfect sense to not want to marry him. The timing is all-wrong. Yet, at some point, those things will get cleaned up and worked out and still, his views will remain the same. And even then, I’m sure I will see both sides of the marriage coin. I’ll agree with him that it’s unnecessary; that we love each other as deeply as we can and so having paperwork to underscore it isn’t something we need. Then I will hear that song on the radio and the tears will flow and the sense of loss will come once again…

Trust is elusive

The all-knowings often say that without trust in a relationship, you have nothing.

We have so much, you and I.  Deep love, passion, a child, shared memories. 

Through all the worries and doubts, we’ve made it to the other side.  Who would’ve thought?

Yet I don’t trust you.  Not fully.  You have those secret spaces in your soul that you won’t give up.

And I wonder so often what is going on in your head, where you are wandering when your eyes glaze over and your stare is forlorn.

You tell me again and again that you are committed; that I’m the one who questions. 

Yet when I see you glance at a pretty girl, it tears me in two.  And it shouldn’t; I know.  It’s just a look, nothing more.

To me a moment’s notice of another means so much more than that.  It means an openness to the idea;  a willingness to see who else is out there for you in the world.

For me, there is simply no other man besides you.  You are my tears and my guts, my air and my laughter.  Everything I am I give to you, laid bare.

The love I feel for you overwhelms me still, and underneath it is the constant fear that it’s all a sham.  You will hurt me anyway, so it might as well fall apart now.

So I withdraw from you into my shell where I know I’m safe, and you’re left frustrated and wondering why I’ve gone silent again.

Where do I begin? Musings on spiritual growth, love and neurosis.

I’d like to start by saying that I’m a pretty stable person.  I manage to walk out of the house early each morning pretty color-coordinated and put together.  I’m always on time, if not early.  People know they can rely on me to lend an ear in a world where they so often feel alone, and while at times being needed by others can weigh heavily on me, I would not change a thing.  I need to feel useful.  As I type, it’s 8:15 a.m. and I’m at work (my work gives me some downtime), hiding in my office.  People stop in and out of  my office all day long, so first thing in the morning, I like to be invisible.  Morning person I am not, admittedly, even though I awaken at 5:30 at the latest each day.  I have my moments of seeking others out and needing that connection, and at other times, I wish to hide away in my own little world so I can be left alone with my thoughts.

Once, in what seems like another lifetime, I was married to a man named Scott.  We shared three children together, and I was a stay-at-home mom who occasionally worked part-time from home in recruiting and transcription.  Scott and I had what others would have called a great relationship.  We enjoyed each other’s company, had great talks and agreed on how to parent our kids.  My nature was always somewhat bohemian, but I kept this in check during my marriage.  I wanted to be seen as someone who had settled down and grown into a mature, responsible adult.  Any doubts or insecurities I had about myself I tried to stifle.  One day flowed fairly easily into the next, my children were born, we moved around with Scott’s job, and did all of the things you do in creating a shared life.  We were never rich, but we managed to pay the bills and have comfortable houses.  My remaining at home was a trade-off.  We did not take many vacations to speak of because money was tight, but we both felt it was well worth whatever sacrifices we had to make.

During our marriage, I always felt I was on a spiritual quest.  Reincarnation had always been something I believed in, but I never openly talked about this with my parents or sister.  I was raised in a Southern Baptist home, so this belief certainly flew in the face of all that I was raised to hold true.  I was usually reading some kind of book on spirituality (the Conversations with God trilogy is like a Bible to me).  I had my spurts of daily meditation, and whenever I took the time to meditate, I felt instantly calmer and more focused.  Feeling a sense of calm is a beautiful gift to me, as my childhood home was filled with anxiety-prone people.  We were never taught how to let the small stuff go.  Everything became mountainous in its impact on us; nothing was “laughed off.”  It’s only as an adult that I have realized how important maintaining a sense of humor is.  Finding a peaceful, loving, calm way to move through the world was that jewel I was forever in search of-not only for myself, but for my children.  As a parent, who doesn’t swear that they will do it differently than their parents?  Who doesn’t proclaim to have a better way?

Such is the way my days passed in my life with Scott.  Of course, the majority of the time was taken up with changing diapers, breastfeeding, taking the older kids to school, cooking dinner, and baking-always baking!  It’s a great love of mine, to be sure.  Especially cookies!  Not just any cookies, though.  They have to be partially uncooked so they’re wonderfully gooey!  My kids take for granted always having cookies on hand because it’s all they have known all their lives.  Scott changed jobs, and those changes took us from Oklahoma to Washington state, to Kansas and back (fortunately) to Washington state again.  I loved being a parent to my boys, and was proud of the healthy relationship I had with Scott.  So what was the problem, then?  Why do I refer to my marriage in the past tense?  Well, it’s not easy to explain (it never is, is it?).

While I always loved him, it’s only post-divorce that I will admit that I was never “in love” with him.  I desperately wanted to be.  He was my best friend and life partner.  I held him above all others-always said he was “the best person I knew.”  I met him when I was 21 years old and had just come out of an abusive relationship.  During that destructive time, I became an alcoholic to cope with the daily stress of living that way.  I attended the local community college as a Mass Communications major and worked in the school’s NPR station.  Scott worked for the college’s PBS station down the hall.  He was married to a crazy gynecologist (yes,I wrote that!) whom he never saw, and he and I struck up a friendship.  He had red hair and was physically not “my type,” as I had always had a penchant for men with longer dark hair.  We shared the same group of friends, so we found ourselves drinking together occasionally.  A physical relationship ensured, and he left his wife.  Do I feel guilty about the fact that I was “the other woman?”  Not really.  Not in that situation, at least.  They hadn’t been married long, she had been cheating on him.  It was more a marriage of convenience than anything else.  He was unhappy and taken for granted by her, and I needed stability badly.  We needed one another, simple as that.

After a 6 month or so relationship (I moved in with him shortly after our relationship began), we married in my parents’ home in West Texas.  A month later, Scott accepted a job in Tulsa and so our life as a married couple began.  I went to college, changed majors, two of our children were born and life moved on.  I became sober prior to starting our family (thank God), and this sobriety is what helped me want to lead a stable life.  I also had the need to appear perfect to the outside world.  Admitting that anything in my life was less than ideal just wasn’t something I felt okay doing.  Loyalty to Scott was extremely important to me.  I was never really attracted to him, but our sex life was okay.  He wanted it more than I did, but I gave in once a week or so and technically, it was good.  He had all the right parts and knew what to do with them!  The thing that was missing was that “spark” we so often dream of.  I convinced myself that everything else my marriage had made up for what it lacked.  No relationship was perfect, and I reasoned that most people probably did not feel that kind of chemical attraction to their mate.  We marry for practical reasons, usually.  Because I am a dreamer, I spend a great deal of time lost in my thoughts.  It’s the way I’ve always been, so I don’t think much of it most of the time.  Over the years, I developed secret crushes on other men, but never acted on those feelings.  Monogamy meant quite a lot to me.  I never worried about Scott cheating.  He told me most everyday how beautiful he thought I was, and truly made me feel special.  I was lucky.  I’d spent a lifetime before meeting him feeling that I never cut muster, so having this affirmation from him was meaningful.

I’m not exactly sure what brought it on, but one day I decided to write a letter to a former love of mine.  He was someone I dated when I was 17- 18 and he was 27.  I met him because he dated my sister for a time.  She married someone else and he and I found ourselves together, and ultimately, he left me for his previous girlfriend and broke my heart.  I always found him incredibly interesting, though.  He was bright and saw the world in a way no one else I had ever known had, and this intrigued me.  Physically, I could not get enough of him.  He always kept me at arms’ length in our relationship, though.  Anyway, as a married adult, I wrote that letter to this long-lost love of mine.  Some time later, he replied and the conversations began.  He called me and we updated one another on our lives and families.  It seemed harmless enough.  I was completely open about it with Scott, too.  We would only talk once in a blue moon at first.  Then as the Internet’s popularity grew, we climbed aboard that train and exchanged emails.  Scott and I shared an email account, and I left the emails from this other man in the Inbox, clearly visible.  Harmless, right?  We can convince ourselves of many things, and I believed and in fact maintained that I COULD be friends with a former lover.

It was a recipe for disaster, of course.  I was not in love with my husband and he felt his wife shunned the intimacy he claimed he needed.  Our conversations became intimate.  We were both the pondering sort (he is extremely analytical) and given our past, it’s only natural that things would move in the direction they did.  We both lived, oddly enough, in Washington state (we dated in West Texas).  We were in different cities, hours apart, so we never saw one another.  That is how I convinced myself that what I was doing was okay.  At one point or another, I set aside my need to be loyal to Scott, and began having the kind of communication with this other man that was clearly not acceptable in my marriage.  I fell deeply in love with him and wished he was my husband.  I imagined what our life together would be like.  I wanted him to meet my children, and I wanted them to know this wonderful man I placed on such a pedestal.  He never told me that he loved me.  That should have been my first clue, I know, but I rationalized that he was keeping me at a distance to protect himself and his family.  Made sense, right?  He hinted at love, and I convinced myself that that was enough.

One night, Scott found a love letter I emailed this other man.  I had deleted it (so much for being open and honest), or so I thought.  A blow-up followed, he talked to the other man on the phone, and oddly enough, the other man let Scott take his spot in a personal empowerment seminar in Nevada!  Crazy, I know!  The other man (maybe at some point, I’ll refer to him by name) wanted to preserve his family, and things with us went too far for his liking.  Backtracking is what he did best, and he backtracked with me and our relationship.  It had to end, according to him.  As far as I was concerned, I loved him and needed him.  I could not imagine a life for me that did not include him.  How could I just walk away from this beautiful thing we shared?  How could he?  Fairly easily, apparently.  So, Scott went to Reno and came back a changed man.  Part of the reason the other man sent him was so Scott could find passion in his life and learn to express it.  He always felt passion for me, but I guess the point was to make him more assertive, more take charge.  Within a few weeks of his return, Scott sent me to the same seminar.  I really came to understand how much I had taken Scott for granted, and how blessed I was to have him as my husband.  I returned home full of energy and focus.  Shortly thereafter, I discovered I was pregnant with our third child.  I did not contact the other man and he did not contact me.  After our baby was born, we moved to Kansas and life went on.

I can’t leave well enough alone, though, and after a few years, I reached out to the other man again.  He never left my thoughts.  I told myself that I was just “seeing how he was.”  I’m a master of lying to myself, clearly!  But then again, most of us believe what we want to believe.  For whatever reason and on whatever level, I felt I (still) needed him.  My marriage lacked the one thing this romantic dreamer needed-love.  I needed that spark, I craved those butterflies.  I wanted to feel that need to completely bare myself emotionally to another man.  I did that with the other man.  He was the only person in my whole life I had fully revealed myself to, except my children.  I didn’t feel a need to hide from him; I wanted him to see all of me.   I lived in Kansas and he lived in Washington, so there was no chance we would see each other.  However, my  husband was unhappy in his job and I always acted as his personal headhunter.  I found a job with an established company in Washington state, and we ended up moving back to the beautiful Northwest.  We packed up the minivan with our three little boys, two dogs, a cat and a guinea pig and drove for four days.  This opportunity was viewed as our fresh start-a chance for Scott to be fulfilled again in his career, and it got us out of Kansas, which we hated.

The other man and I exchanged emails here and there with no real regularity, but then we decided once and for all to see each other.  I told Scott about it.  In fact, the other man came to my house, met and shook hands with Scott.  We got a coffee and walked around a local park and chatted.  The chemistry was there, for sure, but we talked of our families and lives, and it was above-board.  Another meeting occurred a month or two after that, and that’s when the complications truly started.  We hugged.  Just a hug, but it wasn’t your average, platonic hug.  We kissed and touched, but it did not go past that.  I felt horribly guilty.  I had always harbored strong feelings for him, but never in all of my marriage had I actually physically cheated.  Emotional cheating is just as bad, I know.  I fully admit that now.  You know what they say about hindsight, though.  I began to view the other man as my husband.  He was the one I wanted to share my day with and he was the one I dreamed of sleeping beside.  Our lease was coming up on the new house we had been renting, so we had to move.  We decided to buy a home in a nearby town, and I had mixed feelings about it.  I knew my marriage was falling apart.  It was hardly the time to purchase a house.  Purchase we did, however, and the visits continued.  I was eventually completely unfaithful.  I reasoned that I was being honest because I always told my husband when the other man was coming over.  I was lying, however, to everyone including myself….