Friday, April 7, 2023

Lying Part II


“When I left your office last time I was thinking that I’d go home and confess to my Mom that I really hadn’t wanted to kill myself,” David begins immediately. “But that’s not what happened. My Mom had called my Dad and he was there when I got home. He wasn’t happy. He asked me what kind of shit I was pulling, why I had to scare my Mom, that he knew I was just bullshitting and I better knock it off and he wasn’t paying for any wimpy therapy. My Mom jumped in and said she would pay for it, that if her son even had a fleeting notion of killing himself, she was going to be sure he got help. My father exploded. Told her she was an idiot. That she was making me a Momma’s boy and that he didn’t want anything to do with either of us. Then he stormed out of the house.”  

“Wow! I’m sorry David.” 

“I was shaking. I did tell her I liked you and that I promised I wouldn’t kill myself. I asked if she’d really pay for therapy, even if Dad refused and screamed and yelled. She said she would, but I was scared all week it wouldn’t happen. But I’m here!” he says with an almost-smile. “My Mom gave my father the cold shoulder all week and my father hardly said a word to me, but something must’ve worked.”

“And how did all that make you feel?”

“Scared, really scared.”

“I certainly can understand that. But I imagine you must have felt really angry with your father. And how did you feel about your Mom sticking up for you?”

“I was surprised.” Pause. “I guess I really scared her last week,” he says with a sly grin.

“So you’re pleased that you scared her, helped get her in your corner.”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t say that. I don’t want to scare my Mom.”

“Maybe part of you doesn’t want to scare your Mom, David, but I wonder if that’s completely true of all of you. You said last week you were angry at your Mom for always going over to your Dad’s side. But this was one time she didn’t. You won. You told her you wanted to kill yourself and that did it! She was staying on your side.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true.” Pause. “But that makes me feel bad.”

“I think you do feel bad about being angry, David, particularly at your Mom. That’s why I said last time that I thought your lying was a way for you to express your anger. It’s a way of getting back at her for not always being in your corner.”

“Oh! Now I get it.” Pause. “But it’s not like I feel angry and then deliberately decide I’m going to lie to my Mom to get back at her. Usually I lie to make her feel better.”

“But is that really genuinely making her feel better, David? If you got an A+ on a paper and told her you got an A+ on a paper that would be genuinely making her feel better. But if you got a C on a paper and told her you got an A+ that would be putting one over on her, telling her she can’t make you study more or do better than you want to and that you resent the pressure she puts on you.”

“How did you know that? How did you know that I resent the pressure she puts on me?”

I smile. “I didn’t know that, David. I was actually just making it up but I think it’s pretty common for adolescents to resent the pressure their parents put on them.”

“I guess,” he says, sullenly.

“What’s going on David?”


“I don’t know, you sounded unsure.”


“Oh. Do you think I’m lying to you? You think what? That your mother told me that she put pressure on you to do better in school?”


“I guess that’s a problem with lying, David, you end up assuming that everyone lies to you too. I promise you, I will never, ever lie to you, even if telling the truth is difficult or hurtful. Therapy necessitates openness and honesty and that’s hugely important to me.”


“Sounds like that means ‘okay, I’ll try to believe you.’ Let me also say, David, that if your Mom or Dad ever contacts me I will tell you that they did and will tell you what they said. And I’d tell them I was going to tell you before they spoke to me.”

“Really? That sounds pretty good. So there would be no secrets?”

“No, no secrets. Oh, I should say if you told me you were going to hurt yourself and I believed that was a real possibility, I would contact your Mom.”

“I get that. That’s okay. I’m not going to kill myself.”

“I’m very glad to hear that.”  

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