You know that feeling you got when you were a kid (or an adult) and were caught lying? That mixture of dread and shame at disappointing someone, and fear of what your parents are going to do when they find out?
I had a problem with lying when I was a teenager. I don't know if it was really a *problem* though. Some OTDers are of the opinion that if your parents will never accept you for who you are, it's ok to lie about what you are doing. And that lying is a good thing in that case, becuase you are preserving your relationship. My brother is of that opinion, which is why at 26 he still gets to live at home, even while secretly dating someone not jewish. I was honest with my parents and was told I could not move back home after college.
But not all of us are great liars- I'm not. Or at least I wasn't at first, although I got better with age. I learned that the best lies are the ones that contain some or most of the truth. In fact, you can tell the truth and sometimes people will think it's a lie.
Once when I was around 19, my brother and I had a secret party while my parents were away on vacation. We had maybe 30-40 friends over, did the usual things college students do when they have an open house (drank a lot of beer, some people hooked up, felt like badasses for breaking the rules, spent an entire day cleaning up afterward). When my parents came home from their vacation, my mom found a few chips on the floor somewhere that we had missed and asked - did you guys have a bunch of people over while we were gone? My brother, not missing a beat, answered "Sure, we had a party with like 40 people when you were gone." And my mom..get this...thought he was being sarcastic, and said something nasty like "ha ha there's no way you guys have 40 friends."
But there was a time before that, before I figured out how to lie effectively, when I got caught lying a lot. When I was 15 I had a secret boyfriend. He was 16. I was just starting to experiment with going OTD, and had secretly been eating non-kosher food and breaking shabbas for a few months. I also was secretly hanging out with my boyfriend. I would tell my parents I was taking the bus to the hospital where I was volunteering that summer, and instead would take a bus that went in the opposite direction, right to my boyfriend's house. Where we would make out (mostly just kissing) and feel like badasses for breaking the rules. It was pretty innocent, compared to what most kids our age were probably doing. Just exciting. I was just growing out of the extremely geeky stage I went through for..oh..all of my life up until high school (ok I admit, I'm still actually a geek), and this was the first boy who had ever showed interest in me. And he was nice and charming, and cute. He was on his own path 'off the derech' and bragged to me about setting his black hat on fire.
One weekend my best friend had a great idea- I would go visit her for shabbas, and then her boyfriend and my boyfriend would stay at her neighbors house, and we would all meet up for shabbas meals and hang out!
By that point my parents already suspected I had a secret boyfriend, and they made me promise he wouldn't be there if I went to this girl's house for shabbas. They didn't think I should be dating until I was ready to get married (Dating for "tachlis"). I of course said he wouldn't be there, because otherwise they wouldn't have let me go.
So..we went there for shabbas, we all hung out, it was good times. Then Sunday morning my dad showed up to drive me home, and my friends mom asked if he could give a ride home to my boyfriend.
And there it was. That feeling, in the pit of your stomach, when you know you have fucked up really really badly and things are about to go really really wrong. And it did. Since that moment, I have never had a good relationship with my parents again. When we got home from my friends house (my dad did NOT give my boyfriend a ride), after a long and awkward 40 minute drive in which I was freaking out and my dad was completely and ominously silent, my dad grounded me indefinitely. Which ended up being about 4 months with no tv, no phone, no computer, no stereo, just me and my thoughts and school. Which led to a weak-ass suicide attempt and some self cutting, which they never found out about. But that's a whole other story.
After that day, my parents approached our relationship as if I were their enemy. After locking me up in my room for 4 months, they put spyware on my computer that took pictures of what I was doing- which I found out about when my dad confronted me for saying things over instant messenger of a sexual nature (I think it was a joke about whipped cream or something) to my boyfriend (different boyfriend) a couple of years later when I was 17. They put even more rules on what I could or couldn't do. My dad kept trying to get me to sign "contracts" (probably not legally binding since I was a minor and he made them up on his computer) saying I wouldn't do things like date my boyfriend anymore- as if, at 15, signing a piece of paper my dad forced me to sign meant anything. He loved those damn contracts. I think I broke every single one he made me sign.
All these rules led to more lying on my part. I didn't break up with that guy when my parents caught us- we kept on having a 'relationship' (in which we didn't actually see each other, but talked all the time), for months afterward. I learned even more elaborate ways to lie to my parents. When my parents forbade me from using the phone, I would stay up until they had all gone to sleep and call him from a portable phone. I would hide in a room my mom used for storage while calling him, since at the time my cousin was living in our house and sharing a room with me (and my parents asked her to keep an eye on me).
Which led to that feeling all over again, when my parents picked up the phone mid-convo once and figured that out. Which led to them taking away all portable phones in the house so I couldn't use them in other rooms. After they did that, I would walk from school to a local pay phone and somehow call him from that payphone..I don't remember the details, but in my fuzzy memory of this is something about calling the payphone at his yeshiva and he was there at a certain pre-arranged time. Eventually I dumped him though, since he went and held hands with another girl.
Anyways what was I talking about? Oh right, lying. That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are caught in the lie. Maybe in reaction to that, I am very very honest at this point in my life. I'd rather piss people off for what I am doing, then be caught in a lie about what I'm doing. But it took me a long long LONG time to get over that shame feeling. I kept lying to my parents throughout most of college.
I still feel that feeling whenever I tell members in my family about what I'm doing with my life. Not that I'm ashamed about my life...but I know they are disappointed in me, and it's hard to constantly be telling people things that you know disappoint them. Even when you strongly believe that their disappointment is misplaced. But part of it is that whenever I tell a relative or friend that I'm not religious, that I'm married, and that my husband isn't jewish, I'm also telling them that I have been lying to them for years...for all those years they thought I was religious, when I wasn't. So every time I 'come out' to a relative, I have to admit that I've been lying this whole time.
It's funny though that now the whole thing is kind of backwards..it used to be that I was ashamed for not being religious and covered it up by lying. Now I'm ashamed about the lies that I told that implied I was religious, when I wasn't.
Meanwhile, my grandfather recently had open heart surgery, and while I want to call him (and feel like if I don't call him now, I'll probably never talk to him again), something is holding me back. That something is that I will have to go through this whole process of telling him that I'm not religious, that I'm married, and that my husband isn't Jewish. I know my grandmother knows, so he probably knows, but I would still have to talk to him about it. Every time I have to say it, it's a painful reminder of all the years I have lied about who I am, and an admission of those lies, mixed up with all the disappointment I know my family feels whenever they hear it. And right now I can't bring myself to make that call and do it all over again.