I Lied.

Not so many years ago, I remember I was a curious young one who saw others do what they wanted to do the way they wanted to do it. It wasn’t a principle that was taught in the street or at home, but it was a habit that came with the desire of wanting to belong and to be admired — the lying.

I was raised by a single mother who taught me many things, some by instruction and others by a good beating. Some of these beatings were brutal, but most of them were out of frustration. At the time, I must have been very angry after every beating, and being the firstborn meant it took its toll on my mother. She was a first-time mother with me; I was her introduction to motherhood, so she was bound to get frustrated here and there. I say this because I know how much of a loving and caring person she is.

In all of those beatings and lectures, she told me one thing: “Mntanam’ amanga ayangigulisa!” (English translation: “My Son, lies make me sick!”) This, however, never stopped me from lying, but it fueled me even more because I thought I could outsmart her since “she doesn’t know what I’m going through.” The truth was that yes, she never knew what I was going through, and she wasn’t going to unless I told her. But no, I was too young to understand her and to meet her halfway, unless it was something I was going to benefit from. Now, when I look back, I see that my love for her wasn’t as true as I thought it was; and yet she is my mother, she sacrificed, cared and loved me still. But still, I lied, and lied, and lied and lied. Until it became a habit.

I lied so much that I had scraped and torn my conscience apart, I felt no remorse whatsoever in lying to even the closest of people. My mother, my cousin, my sister and my best friend.

It wasn’t a very unfortunate trait to have because when it came to impressing the opposite sex at an early age, I knew exactly what to say and how to say it, I even had the smile of a con artist to support it. At that young age that I was, it was enough to persuade any girl. So I was partially fortunate — for a short period of time — because the effects of lying to people started wearing off on me emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

At first, I was afraid to lie because when I was in the fourth grade, Mrs. Murray taught us that we all have two choices: to do the right thing or to do the wrong thing. This became deeply embedded within me, so slowly, as time went on, I had to confront my realities — being single-parented, having no fatherly presence in my life, having no experience with a lot of things, not owning the latest sneakers or cellphone, growing up in a broken family, finding myself, finding who I wanted to be and why.

I lied because I wasn’t cool, I wanted to be cool! I mean who doesn’t want to be cool?

Many things about me changed, from an adorable young and cute baby to a self-centered individual who did everything and just about anything to make things about me. I’m ashamed to this day to admit some of the things I did. I had a survival mentality, which meant stealth mode was the most important; where you become the kind of person to know almost anything about everything and everyone. This made me a smart child, but a horrible person. I did fairly well in school and not too good personally — as a result, I got depressed at a very young age.

Lying kept certain people around me, and upheld a certain reputation for me amongst my circles. But the people that were around me because of lies left as soon as they learned the truth. This broke me because I couldn’t keep friends and I couldn’t be around the same circle of friends for a long time. This meant that I had to sit up most nights working out strategies to get new friends and to keep them longer than the ones before. At first my lies were easily debunked, but later on, they became more and more convincing. But whilst I got people’s respect, I lost my identity, I lost who I was supposed to be, I lost who I thought I’d be, I lost me totally. I then became more and more obsessed with acting out certain roles in front of a mirror, and those roles turned into a bad case of Dissociative Identity Disorder and Depression.

Fortunately, I’m 19 now and living a far less self-centered lifestyle; I love and respect my mother, I really appreciate her for everything she has done for me, I know that the many things she couldn’t physically do for me she did by having faith and hope in me. And although my father died when I was still in my childhood, I know what kind of man he was and I appreciate everything about him. It took my mother telling me her truths for me to stop lying to myself as well. Lying is a very light sin we might think, and although we might sugarcoat small lies as white lies, a lie is a lie.

Siphumelele Nongwende

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