The Fish That Bit Off A Finger Plus This One Time My Father Died And Other Lies I Have Told


Me. December 08, 2007… Photo by Me.

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“How I Could Just Kill A Man“; Cypress Hill
Let me know if the YouTube’s missing…


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Lies are, mostly, ridiculous. And yet I’m pretty sure I’ve lied on multiple occasions to everyone I’ve known for more than an hour… if I include exaggerations and misdirections, which are both definitely types of lies but also dramatic tools I use as a writer. Even without including those tools I have lied a lot. I have a complicated family history… going back generations or just to the last generation or just my own life, it’s a complicated and long and convoluted story. So, when asked about it, I lie. Mostly by omission, but quite often I’ll tell someone the Where’s and maybe even the When’s, but after that… not so much.

Lying is a tool, mostly one of survival, I learned a long time ago. One of my first experiences in my New School after we escaped the Cult we were in was crying at the lunch table and when someone asked “what the fuck’s with the new kid?” I told them “my father died yesterday.”… which was a lie. But I can remember not knowing, really, what the fuck was going on. There I was, in grade three, surrounded by newbies, and the tears just started pouring out… in public, in the middle of the lunch room. So I needed something which could justify the tears and the only thing I could think of was “my father died yesterday.”

I didn’t know, as I was growing up, what the fuck happened. There was no one around to explain my childhood to me, and I certainly couldn’t relate my experiences to the farmers’ children I was then surrounded by… so I made shit up. I surrounded myself with an ever-changing mythology… from grade to grade I wasn’t quite an entirely new person, but over a few grades the story changed almost completely as I learnt more about myself from the adults willing to share their stories, and also as the old stories could no longer pass as real because the people I was telling them to — the kids in my grade — grew up and could better recognize the Bullshit I was selling.

For the most part, as I grew up, I always felt lost in a group unless I had a better story… it wasn’t like I was running around telling people outlandish and unbelievable stories, it was more like “you have an ATV at home? Well I’ve got one as well… you want to see it? Love to show it to you, but it’s at my grandfather’s farm.” They weren’t Fundamental Lies, they weren’t Foundation Lies, they were basically “I’d like to fit in now” lies.

Definitely not malicious or meant to hurt anyone, mostly they’re either protective or somehow status orientated…

But still lies. And a lot of them… and they’ve had a weird way of following me. Just a couple of weeks ago my mother asked me to tell a friend of hers about an adventure I had while working eighteen-years ago as a fishing and hunting guide in Northern Ontario…

I was eighteen when I moved north to work. I’ll get into those eight months later. When I came back I had three or four solid Adventure Stories — I’m not even sure how this one got started in my head because there’s not a shred of truth to it. It might actually be a Camp Legend someone brought up over some hash oil… “we were out on a calm but hot day, one of my guests had his hand in the water and WHAM, a twenty pound Northern Pike chomped on his little finger. Dude screams out, waves his hand around like a maniac, and the fish takes his finger off at the top knuckle.”

Inhale and bow and accept applause. There’s more to my version — trip to the hospital, his finger in an ice bucket, blah blah… but that’s the base.

Weirdly enough I’ve never written them down in any of my journals. I’ve started to on a few occasions, but I always erased or deleted or scratched it out. I’ve always tried to keep my journals free of Bullshit, but I figure it’s about time to admit the lies I’ve told are as important to who I am as the truths…

It’s not that I only need a place to tell the truth or be as honest as I possibly can be, it’s that I also need a place where I can admit to having lied and maybe work on an apology or an admission from there. I think the act of writing them out on Salted might be as important as keeping track of the things which have actually happened in my life…

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…since november fourteenth, 2006.

“You burn things when there’s no going back. How much of
yourself have you had to burn away to be
the person you are today? Because baby, my body
is ash and my mind is still smoking.”

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Ottawa, Punk, Salted Truths. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Fish That Bit Off A Finger Plus This One Time My Father Died And Other Lies I Have Told

  1. Nita says:

    I could never have imagined that you did all those things you said you did…but now I am beginning to understand. I see your personality only in Salted and I have seen you as an honest person.
    A person needs to be who he or she is. Otherwise it’s impossible to have real relationships and ofcourse you know that, that’s why you have Salted.

  2. Gabriel... says:

    I’ve definitely done every thing I’ve said I’ve done… at least all the stuff I’ve written about here on Salted. I’ve always believed lying in a journal of any kind is a complete waste of time, but it never occurred to me until now that listing the lies I’ve told in Real Life could be a way of starting a process of… not necessarily fixing them because most of the lies I’m going to write about were told many, many years ago to people I’ll probably never see again. But, I think, maybe just admitting to the lies here will help me start to get myself straight. Kind of separate the Real me from the Other me…

  3. aikaterine says:

    I did the same thing when I was younger..well.. if until about the age of 25 counts as younger, but – you know what I mean. And I did something very similiar to what you are thinking of doing, only on paper.

    The biggest help for me was in being able to “separate the Real me from the Other me…”
    because they do get mixed up in your head.

    I hope it works for you.

  4. nursemyra says:

    sounds like a good idea to me too x

  5. Gabriel... says:

    Just to be clear… I’m not turning Salted into “Gabriel Repents”. This is going to be an ongoing List Thing more than anything else, kind of like the Movie/Homes/Embarrassing Memories lists I made a couple of years ago… while I was writing this post I managed to scribble out two lies I told in grade four and two more in my first year of College. It’s very odd to see them on paper…

    And what happened to Dame Wiggy’s blog?!?

  6. thordora says:

    I never lied, but I certainly felt like doing so a lot of the time.

    I can relate to the need for a personal myth however-I’m adopted, and then I lost my mother. IN many ways, I lost most of my childhood and history. It’s very odd to float with no stories of your past, and where you came from.

    And it made me fucking HATE those heritage days at school.

  7. exactscience says:

    I have told a great many lies. I have visited NY on a whim and been threatened at knife point by a friend to name a couple. I have no doubt people realised those were lies at the time.

    The lies that screwed me over though where the ones I told both myself and others. When requesting meds to help me sleep, I told him I wasn’t feeling at all depressed just tired. Those lies, which I told myself were protecting me (another lie) screwed me.

    My teachers were fond of saying that if you cheat you are only cheating yourself. I believe the same is true of lying. Facing those lies, for me, was a cathartic process, hope it is for you too

  8. bromac says:

    Sounds like you were just surviving. Surviving events which your childhood mind could not wrap itself around. Then it stuck. The bitch of habits.

    I can understand wanting to get them all out–cleansing, I’m sure.

  9. giannakali says:

    Gabriel,
    I’m so glad you called me back by linking to me when you did your anniversary piece. I’m really moved by your journey and have been reading regularly since you inadvertently called me back to attention.

  10. Bryan says:

    I understand the whole suvivalist nature of the need to lie, but it seems to be more prevelant when a person puts them self in a less than desirable situation and can’t or won’t humble themself to be honest.

    Humbling oneself is something that comes with maturity and wisdom.Though being able to answer ones shortcomings is something that a lot of people don’t know how to do.

    It’s a product of the world that we live in where everything that we have in our lives is disposable to a certain extent. Electronics, automobiles, relationships (marriage specifically) and all kinds of things to the sorts. It’s easy to find oneself in a lie through omission or otherwise and sometimes not even realize it until later when you have time to reflect.

    I find the older I get though the more I expect of myself to be honest and the importance of those close to me to be honest also to the point that it can make me really irrate if I discover even the smallest lie, because I know in the end how damaging that practice can be if it goes on for a long period of time. Even the small lies can be the cracks that can crumble even the most solid of relationships in the end.

    I’m proud that you have decided to take this step and open yourself to that part of your past and are really taking a good long look at the actions and consequences of what that means to you. In the end I hope that it makes you a stronger person… 😉

  11. only4now says:

    Wow, this post was like looking in the mirror. But, I still lie. It is easier to stay protected in my own litte world if others do not know.

    The lies are easier to believe than the truth anyway. So much less complicated and I can appear to be normal like everyone else.

    Makes me wonder how many others are living like this?

  12. melanie says:

    Lies…

    To one’s self or to others, although fundamentally wrong, are sometimes necessary. To keep yourself from being hit, to keep your kids safe, to keep you from the insanity that has become your life. I have told lies in the past.

    Now, as I find myself well along my new path in life, my fears relatively set aside, I no longer feel the need for lies and have over the years become quite hateful of them. Mostly, those told to me have been very harmful, not like the white lies told to spare a loved one’s feelings.

    The past is the past. What you may have said or done is long over and if previous lies or omissions were “kind hearted” then worry not about apologizing. Continue concentrating on settling things within yourself then, go forward, from this day living as you are now.

    Bravely.

  13. 1poet4man says:

    I hoped you would know what happened to the Dame…but maybe not.

  14. Gabriel... says:

    I’m hoping whatever is wrong with Dame Wiggy is temporary, her blog has been taken Private, not deleted. If anyone does find her maybe they could remind her, if she wants to move blogs, she can take everything with her — including posts and comments, and there’s no reason to delete her damewigginsofree account…

    “Continue concentrating on settling things within yourself…”

    A couple of years ago I started keeping a list of embarrassing memories which, while unmedicated, were distorted and became ammunition for the disease to use against me. By writing them down I was able to see how meaningless most of them were, and whatever power they had went away… the lies I’m planning on writing down, and maybe listing here, feel the same way… there are certain lies that have become a part of who I am to certain people and to myself. I think we all have lies and exaggerations we’ve told to certain people… “can’t, I’m busy tonight”, “that’s a great idea”, “no, really I like it when you do that” that put us into a place which we can’t get out of easily…

    “Humbling oneself is something that comes with maturity and wisdom.”

    I love that idea… a humble child is a rare child. How humble can a child be when they want to fit in quickly with a larger group? It’s much easier to say “my father also took me camping dozens of times” than “I have absolutely no memories of doing anything whatsoever with my father”, and so now I’m a Camper of Some Note rather than the only person in my grade with no childhood memories of a father. And, again, how humble is a child when they’re trying to impress their parents or teachers? How many of those little In The Moment lies we told while growing up have people believed, and continue to believe? We are who we are, but… actually this could make a decent No Post Day.

  15. Bryan says:

    Oh I won’t argue that as a child most all people use lying as a way to protect themselve from scutiny, self preservation or as a way to develope themselves with in a group. As a child (in my case in particular) it was a means to try to get myself out of some form of punishment. My son at 3 years old does it all the time right now.

    He knows that if he can get away with telling us he was good at school we might reward him over telling us the truth that he may get into trouble for. I think it’s normal and healthy for anyone to experience that in there life. Like I said though that’s as a child.

    As wisdom and maturity grow there should be a far less need to have that facet in ones life. It grows along the lines of knowing what to do about what’s “right or wrong” and actually being able to put them into application instead of trying to hide behind a curtain that is the truth.

    I am by no means saying that I am an “Honest Abe” there are things that I don’t want to deal with or have thought that I have put behind me that I feel that I can’t or won’t deal with. There are things that I do that I feel would be better suited that I lie through omission if my family just didn’t know about.

    My spouse is one of the people that I have been most honest with in the world. She knows some really dark parts of my past that I rarely share with others. Even at that she doesn’t know everything. She never will either because I can’t justify anyway that knowing somethings would ever be beneficial to her having the knowledge of.

    In the end it’s not so much that you lie about the things that have happend before as it is the things that happen in the now. It’s being able to take the way that you once handled things and find the stregth to be honest in a timely manner about the things that are the real truth. The outcome may not be pleasant at times but it’s better than if someone has had an idea about something that is a lie for a long time and discover the truth and corner you with it one day.

    Unlike how you are being a “camper of some note” I am one that has found it difficult to lie because one I was never any good at it. And 2 I was never around people that I felt that I had to impress that much. I never hung out with one solitary group of people. About the only ones I shied away from growing up was the “jocks” I just never found any common ground with them. I never had a car in school and I didn’t play any sports so what good was I to them to really have anything to offer.

    It seems that everything in my life has always found it’s way to wear itself on my sleeves mainly because the things I did get into everyone found out about any how or because the physical problems I had were so damn obvious. It made me the butt of a lot of jokes and I found out a long time ago that it was easier to mask the pain of acknowledging the truth through laughter and beat the group to the punch than to sit back and be the butt of the joke without knowing about it.

    I had a lot of those growing up. I had plenty of chances to remake myself also ( I went to 14 different public schools also and that may have aided in some form to the working relations I had with holding so many jobs as I have as an adult) Being able to lie was just something I was never good with. It was hard enough to keep up with the truth of what my life was reaqlly like and only lie through onission.

    To be honest though how good is a person really if they were asked to be completly honest with out being anonymouscould they really be with the world? Politicians find this particulary difficult. That’s a story for another day though and I don’t mean in general but because my family had close ties with that while I was growing up.

    If you get a chance stop by my blog and check out he pics that my son took… I found them to be really interesting.

    Take care and hope that you’s having a great holiday season.

  16. renalfailure says:

    I’m all about lying. Most of the time, it’s for entertainment value. The rest of the time it’s just so I don’t have to deal with people. It’s easier to say “I’m fine” than “No, my life is hollow and meaningless but I don’t want to talk specifically to you about it.” See, by lying I don’t have to get into a fight.

  17. Austin says:

    I have found that if you think about a lie before you tell it, and examine the reasons behind it, you usually realise why (in that current situation) it’s better to tell the truth, tempered with a good wee bit of tact of course. At least it’s better for me. Anyone else find this?

    Still though, I can think of two reasons (of the top of my head, one good (based on the immaturity of [the majority of] my peers – my sexuality) and one bad (based on my own immaturity – skipping school for days out), where I have lied, and will again until I go to Uni, where maturity, or lack of it won’ be an issue.

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