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I started a lie that my dad was dead before I met my boyfriend. I don't know how to tell him the truth

Tagged as: Dating, Family<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (16 September 2019) 9 Answers - (Newest, 17 September 2019)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I grew up with an abusive alcoholic father who would beat me, my mum and occasionally my younger brothers. I grew up with low self esteem and anxiety relating to this situation. At 14 my mum left him, he threatened to kill himself if we chose to stay with my mum (which we did) then drove off. He didn't do it, just a very traumatic manipulation. I refused to see or talk to him after this. I drank a lot over the next few years and at age 22 started taking drugs. Around my 24th birthday I was out at raves and parties over two nights when my dad called me on an unknown number. I was sober at this point. I answered. He told me he was dying. This isn't the first time he's done this. He once previously told my brothers (who used to still see him until he hit my brother quite badly and my brother started to distance himself from him). He once said he had cancer and had 3 years to live which ended up not being true. Which was really bad as his dad had recently died of lung cancer (at his funeral my dad drunkenly introduced me to everyone as the daughter who doesn't bother to talk to him... even though he has a daughter from a previous marriage who also doesn't talk to him, probably for the same reasons) So I told him I was sorry to hear that and he basically said "yeah I bet you feel bad about ignoring me now I'm dying." And "never once did you even bother trying to initiate a relationship with me after your mum left me"... I was so angry. So many things I wanted to yell... it was like he was completely unaware of everything he'd done and that this was my fault. (Bearing in mind he refuses to pay child support to my mum after and said he'd quit every job he had of she tried, left her in debt for a car in her name that he took and left her with 3 kids to live with some woman he met on the internet miles away). I hung up and got incredibly intoxicated. I went home to see my flatmate and blurted out my dad had died. I told him I got the call last night and he's dead. I woke up the next morning just absolutely devastated but I just didn't know how to take back what I had said. At the time I was intoxicated I had thought this man is dead to me and went with that. I proceeded to quit my job and postpone uni and got completely wrecked for about a month. In this time I didn't address my lie and more people found out. I started saying it was true. After a month, I knew I had to sort myself out. I decided to bury my head in the sand about the lie as I was so embarrassed and ashamed and just pretend it didn't happen... a few years go by, I graduate with a 2:1, get accepted to start a masters degree and meet the most amazing guy and fall in love for the first time ever. My bf knew all my friends so knew about my dad and soon after we started dating his grandad died and he was devastated but was glad he had me who could relate bevause of my dad (luckily I could actually relate as my gdad had died in the past who was the biggst5 part of my life).... we've been together 4 years now. I don't see my family often but every time I do and my bf is there I'm worried they'll bring up my dad who sometimes still speaks to my brother. Or Im scared my dad will show up (which absolutely never happens but could). My best friend recently found out about the lie but couldn't have been more supportive as she knew me before the lie and knew how much my dad had hurt me and had been through a similar thing with her dad. I don't know what to do. I want to tell my bf but I'm so worried he won't understand. Part of me thinks he might. A lot of our friends may not... I could ruin this perfect community of friends I have made. I could lose everything dear to me. There is the highest possibility I might never come into contact with him anyway and could just carry on... But the guilt and fear gets to me. Am I a total asshole? My bf loves me deeply but have I betrayed him beyond repair. The lie started before I met him and it was already in motion. I should have dealt with it sooner but I was self destructing hugely. I have never ever lied to him about anything else. I've am not a compulsive liar or attention seeker. I know why this happened and I wish I could take it back. What shall I do?

View related questions: alcoholic, best friend, debt, drugs, drunk, flatmate, liar, self esteem, the internet

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2019):

you have not betrayed your boyfriend. If he reads what I just read he will understand. And if he doesn't he doesn't deserve you. I'd tell your boyfriend the truth but I don't see any reason why you have to tell all your friends unless you want to. While I think most people would understand, you don't owe it to them to trot out your trauma to explain your decision to tell people your dad is dead. Just make sure you 100% trust this guy and know he is a good guy who wouldn't use it against you even if you broke up.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (17 September 2019):

chigirl agony auntI came back to post some more. I wonder if what you're feeling guilty about, when it comes to your boyfriend, isn't the lie about your dad being dead, but that you probably have not told him what a horrible father he is/was, and how he actually has not been a father to you at all. You write that when your boyfriends father died, he felt you could relate to him in his grief. But my guess is, you couldn't have related to tis grief even if your father actually was dead. In my own case, I've wished for my father to die for a very long time, because him being alive gives me grief. Him being dead would be a relief. So I wouldn't have been able to relate to someone grieving the loss of their father, as I never had such a relationship to a father.

So this makes me think, you haven't told your boyfriend the truth about your father, not just that he is alive, but that he is a terrible person and not truly a father at all, but an abuser. My guess is you haven't told him, because like most of us who grow up with abuse, all we want is to have a normal family. And we're so used to no one understanding what it means to have a dysfunctional, or even dangerous parent, that we would rather not discuss it at all. Or we would just pretend everything is normal. Because we wish things were normal.

The fact is that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Your father being an abusive and toxic person, is not your fault. You not having a relationship with him shows your strenght, not a flaw.

I have wanted to say that my dad is dead too. Why? Because it would have saved me a lot of trouble in having to talk about my dad, when I dont actually want to talk about him at all. People do ask questions. They find it odd that I dont even know where he lives, that I have no idea what he's doing or how his health is. Last time I spoke to him, he too told me he had cancer (yes, believe it or not, he said the same). So what, does that make me an evil person for choosing to not have any contact with him, when he is supposedly going through cancer? Heck no. But people do ask questions, and I have to answer and sort of "defend" my right to not talk to him. It gets tiresome. It's bothersome. Getting questions about him means that my sunny day becomes dark and full of rain, because it puts such a damper on my mood. It would have been far easier if he was dead. Then I wouldnt have to talk about him. So I get where you are coming from.

I just want you to know that your dad being dysfunctional does not mean that YOU are dysfunctional. His actions only reflect back on him, and have nothing at all to do with you. You're a normal, healty person who is responding with drastic measures, because the situation demands drastic measures.

I think you will feel relief if you tell your boyfriend teh truth, not just about your dad being alive, but the truth about what your dad actually is. That's he's not, and never has been, what anyone would define as "dad". My brother stopped referring to our father as "dad" or "father". He just uses the name of him, or calls him the sperm donor. Because he wasn't a father to us, he was an abuser who we couldn't get away from, and titling him with "dad" or "father" would imply that he played any such role in our lives. I still call him dad. But I too know, he wasn't a dad to us. That dream, the dream of a dad, is dead. What is left is the realization that I grew up with a mom and an abuser as parents. And never had a dad. I wouldnt know what it means to have a dad, or what a dad should be like, or what its like to feel a fathers love, care or protection. I have never known any of that. So I can't relate when someone, like your boyfrind, grieved the loss of their dad. I can't even grasp how it feels to be happy to talk to your dad, or see your dad, because I've never been happy to be around him.

I think you need to tell your boyfriend all of this, and that telling him the truth about your dad and the abuser he is, is the most important thing here. Not telling him that your dad is alive, but telling him the truth about your dad.

You are a strong woman to have gone through what you've gone through. It takes unbelievable strenght, I know. I've carried the world on my shoulders too. It makes you really, really tired. Tell other people about it, and share the burden. You dont have to carry all of this alone. Talk about it. And if you can find a cheap therapist/psychologist I can highly recommend it. It helps take the burden off your shoulders, if only for a little while, so that you can relax a little.

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom +, writes (17 September 2019):

N91 agony auntI agree with the others, come clean.

Don’t let anymore guilt build, I would be surprised if your BF wasn’t understanding. Just explain that it started as a heat of the moment comment that snowballed and it’s eating you up inside not being honest.

Your father has treated you terribly so I can completely understand your feelings towards him.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2019):

Just tell him. You can't live your life with that anxiety hanging over you. He might be a bit angry but I doubt you'd lose him over it. Just tell him you were in a bad place and weren't thinking straight and the whole thing just snowballed out of control. If your relationship is strong then it would take a lot more than this to break it.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2019):

The job of the devil in our lives is to create guilt, make us lie to ourselves, or others; and to do anything and everything that leads us on a path of destruction. Be it through hurting other people, or hurting ourselves.

I read your post carefully, and I was mindful not to rush to judgement. I opened my heart to be sure that I allowed myself to put myself in your shoes. I related in every way I could. Now I'm going to give you some heartfelt advice.

The test of true-love is through trust and honesty. Love is reinforced when you know you can trust and depend on the person you've given your heart to.

You're human, you'll make mistakes. Your worthiness of love depends on how you earn the trust that is given to you. If you're creating a version of yourself for your boyfriend that isn't exactly who you are, who is he falling in-love with? He thinks your father is dead, and his empathy is based on feeling he's relating to your grief. It's not a matter of semantics. It's a matter of truth or deception!

If you have it in you to maintain a lie indefinitely, what does that say about you? It means you're not the person he thinks you are. It will become a habit of hiding things you don't want him to know. Either to manipulate his feelings, or to deceive him.

Hon, you might not like my answer; but I'm going to give it to you straight. I'm not going to show you how to sculpt and mold a lie into something you can make palatable for your boyfriend. He deserves the truth about you, your family, and your father. What else did you lie about, or how many other stories have you told to protect the lie?

You've endured a great deal of pain and suffering; but lying and protecting a lie is only causing you more guilt and suffering. Don't hide behind notes or pretend your father is dead. Tell the truth. He is not dead, and he is not dead to you. He has been pushed out of your life to save your life. He has no place in it; because every chance he was given, he failed to justify your allowing him to be a part of it. Nothing that happened to you was your fault as a child. You're only responsible for the choices you've made as an adult. What you do that can hurt others.

You're not a child or a teenager anymore. You're a full-grown woman, and your past is behind you. You chained yourself to it by telling a bold-faced lie. Now you don't know how to get out of it. There's just one way. Tell the truth! No more hiding or beating around the bush!

Trust goes two-ways. You have to trust that your boyfriend loves you enough to understand what you've been through; and realizes how badly it has affected you, your mother, and your brothers. Your boyfriend has to know the reasoning you feared telling him, and facts. He also has a right to form an opinion. You came to him and manipulated his feelings by omitting facts you feared would influence how he felt about you. To be more completely honest, you denied the existence of your father; because you're ashamed of him. It was completely understandable, back when you were younger. You've lived your own life, and you're an adult now. Lying is now a deliberate effort to hide the facts. You've done some things yourself that weren't so good; so you can't throw stones! Blame it on whomever or whatever, the fact remains you did them!

The truth has a way of finding its way to the surface; and it does not like to be buried under lies. The truth is the complete opposite of lies; and the devil rejoices when we resort to hiding the truth and withholding forgiveness. It complicates things, creates a whole new climate of drama, and the result is the loss of trust. Lying keeps us paranoid and looking over our shoulder; wondering when a clue might slip, or someone will spill the beans! It makes us vulnerable to blackmail!

You'll have to suck-it-up, sit your boyfriend down; and tell him the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Then you will have to forgive your father for the past. He isn't dead, and he has his own demons to deal with. Forgiving people doesn't mean you have to invite them back into your life. It's a way of setting yourself free, and completely breaking the power anyone has over your feelings and emotions. Moving forward by letting-go of the past, no matter how bad it was. If you don't, you're just dragging your pain into your boyfriend's life; just waiting for the most inopportune time for your old baggage to burst-out into the open. Damage done by catching people off-guard sometimes can't be easily repaired.

The longer the truth is hidden, the worse it makes you look. You're not at fault for who your father is. That's all on him. Killing people rhetorically is ridiculous. It means nothing. It just feels good to say things like that when you're bitter and angry.

Once he is forgiven, that truth is told, and you have moved forward with your life; you will know true healing and freedom. Pretending he is dead and lying to people about it was okay when you were going through your issues.

If you want to heal and free yourself from the bondage your dead-father is holding you chained to. Tell the truth and shame the devil!

With freedom you will find strength and your own power. Your father isn't dead, and the fact that he isn't is the very reason you had to write to a bunch of strangers for advice.

Now go change your life! Get your freedom, and forgive your father; so you can get-on with your life. Your boyfriend will understand, and this will be a test of how real love truly is. If you can lie to him, you can tell him the truth. Which is worse?

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (17 September 2019):

mystiquek agony auntOP I truly believe that anyone with a heart will understand your actions. Sometimes people are so toxic in our lives that we need to distance ourselves from them so that they can no longer hurt us and disrupt our lives. This is what I always tell people that have bad relationships with their family members, someone said it to me once a long time ago (I have a very difficult relationship with my mom). "You can choose your friends, your partner but you don't get to choose your family". Some of us don't get lucky and get great family...let's be honest..some of us get assholes for moms, dads, brothers or sisters.

Sit your boyfriend down and tell him the truth. Tell him what you feel comfortable enough with to share. As little or as lot..its all up to you. Trisha1 has a very good idea about telling your friends. Then let it go. People don't know your life they haven't lived it and they don't have the right to judge you. They either accept it or they don't. You know what you've lived with.

For what its worth..I have strugged in the relationship with my mom for YEARS. At 84, just a few weeks ago she "disowned" both my sister and I because she overheard the two of us having a conversation about our childhood (I didn't know she was on the phone with my sister listening). She got really angry and yelled at both of us and said we were no longer her daughter and told me to never call her again. UM...ok...I live over 1000 miles away. Is she hurting me? Nope..not at all because she cant handle the truth. Never could. She was a very angry mentally abusive parent and in my mind I cut ties with her YEARS ago. Is it going to hurt me that she doesn't want to talk to me? NOPE! Not at all. Its actually a relief.

Live darling....and leave the poison along side the road. I wish you all the best.

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A female reader, Tisha-1 United States +, writes (17 September 2019):

Tisha-1 agony auntWrite this and send it first to your boyfriend then to your friends. If they don’t understand and support you, they aren’t your true friends.

“My dearest friends, I haven’t told you the truth about something. It’s been bothering me and I want to be honest with you and not hide the trauma I’ve experienced. “

Copy and paste what you wrote us.

If they don’t get it, understand your pain and fears, well, you’ve survived worse. And the good news is that after you’ve told your truth, you don’t have to pretend.

You’re not an asshole. Speak your truth. If you cannot speak your truth to your boyfriend then he’s just a placeholder until you find the one you can tell.

I would encourage you to talk to someone about this in a therapeutic setting. A psychologist, a counsellor, a therapist, whoever can help you face your next challenges.

Best wishes to you.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (17 September 2019):

chigirl agony auntI could write you a book for an answer, having a father whos done pretty much the exact same as yours. But to keep it short: just tell your boyfriend that your dad isnt dead. That you think of him as dead and would prefer him to be dead. But that he is actually alive, you just dont want anything to do with him. You dont really owe your boyfriend the truth about this. This is your story, your life. If he doesnt respect this, after hearing about your dad, then he isnt worth hanging on to. You dont deserve any judgement. I totally get why you lied and why this is a difficult matter to talk about. You have every right to protect yourself from your dad, and if telling people he is dead has helped you to keep your distance from him, and protect yourself, then you have every right to. What does it matter to everyone else? Put yourself first here. Own your story, and own your right to tell people he us dead. But yeah, do tell your boyfriend. But dont take any lectures from him about it. You had every right to say your dad was dead.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 September 2019):

Honeypie agony auntYour dad IS dead, TO YOU.

Honestly, I'd just tell him. GET it over with. Yes, I get there is a distinction of ACTUALLY being dead and dead to YOU.

I think with the background about your dad your BF will understand.

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