A pathological liar is like a four year old kid, who tells you what happened to him down by the lake. Meanwhile, there’s no lake.
The important question here is this: does the pathological liar know he is lying? Or does he believe his stories? Is he lying, or is he delusional?
The answer is: both. Sort of.
He is not delusional, but he hovers in that half-world of the narcissist…where the lies are believed until he gets caught, but then– and this is the move that only a few can pull off– he acknowledges that the “facts” are lies, but not the essence, the spirit.
— The Last Psychiatrist: Pathological Liars
This is Chapter Fourteen, the last Chapter of a true story. All of the names (except the author’s) and some of the locations have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, depending on your perspective.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Full Moon in Scorpio.
Six weeks have gone by since I started writing this story in April. I thought I had made a clean break. Except for those last phone calls a few hours after we broke up at the Garden Terrace Restaurant on March 10th, there was no more communication between Adam and I. No phone calls, no e-mails, no Facebook messages or comments, not even a “Like.”
OK, I confess I did a peek at Adam’s Facebook page and saw that a few days after our break up he was back fishing in full swing: “I’m going to a potluck tomorrow. Anybody have an easy casserole recipe?” Seven sirens took the bait and posted easy cheesy dishes complete with shopping and baking hints, no doubt imagining Adam in his bachelor kitchen, all alone, just as I did.
It’s a good thing none of them asked if they could come along. Because there was no potluck “tomorrow.”
How do I know there was no potluck?
Because, toward the end of the time that I was dating Adam, I gradually came to realize that he was describing events on Facebook that did not actually take place in real time, similar to the emails he sent me at Christmas and New Years where he described his out of town trips. Because of my friendship with Diane, I could now do a reality check. If he posted he was going to a potluck, for example, she would observe him and report whether or not he even left the house at the time of the event in question.
Women were still falling hook line and sinker, just as I did.
Think you’d never fall for a guy like Adam? Think again. How about this one:
Spent the morning in meditation in the gardens at Krotona Hill, in Ojai. It was so quiet and peaceful. I let the beauty of the natural surroundings soak in and let my spirit wander.
Sounds sweet, doesn’t it ? Only problem is, again, he wasn’t there. Yes, he was there another time, so the spirit of the Comment is true. But on this particular day Adam never left the house. Diane confirmed that he was home the morning of the date in question.
If you think you would not be fooled, think again. Men like Adam are charming and have the gift of gab. We not only fall for them, we vote them into office. Adam was elected by the people, four times, so far. I have no doubt that if he runs again, he will schmooze his way to victory. Diane tells me that a few months ago he told her he pulled papers to run for office. When she asked him, “What if the voters find out about your past with women, “ he just shrugged and said, “The American people are forgiving. They don’t really care about personal stuff like that. “
When I told her that it was way too early to file papers for the seat in question (I called County Elections to verify this) she said, “Even after all this time, he fools me.”
Adam’s transgressions are small potatoes next to the Arnold’s and Edward’s of the world.
The patriarchy gives them all a pass.
As for me, if it wasn’t for my journals and journalistic habit of saving letters, and my new friendship with Diane, I might have dropped Adam into the cellar of my unconscious and locked the door. I deliberately avoided certain meetings and green type events, and hoped I wouldn’t bump into him anywhere, not even on the astral plane.
His letters were so beautifully written that two weeks after I broke up with him I was still asking Diane if such and such incident was really something he just pulled out of thin air such as leaving town for Christmas and New Years.
I just could not accept that a man who opened his Love Letters with “My Dearest Suza,” could be lying through his teeth.
It did not help when my women friends tried to console me by saying, “Anyone would have been fooled by him, Suza.”
Only one friend was totally unsympathetic. She said, “Stick with Honey.”
And through it all, my friendship with Diane flourished:
Thank you, Diane, I really appreciate all your messages. I realize that I’m not completely recovered yet. I still get mad when I think about all the lies. I do not speak to Adam because he has created a situation where I no longer know what to believe. Now even if he is telling the truth I am apt to think he is lying. I no longer give him the benefit of a doubt.
Of course you are not completely recovered from this situation. It will haunt you for months and months. You were lied to, taken advantage, and fell in love. You can’t expect to recover overnight. The worst part is that you need to get rid of these feelings before you can move on. I am so sorry this is happening to you, you are such a sweet lovely person.
The worst lie Adam told was that he does not lie. He swore the story about you and your house was an isolated incident. And that he would not lie in the future!
I think I also feel humiliated that I was not more suspicious of him and introduced him to many friends. It strikes me as so mean on his part because so much of my trust in him was based on us having this long Ojai history. We know so many of the same people.
The next day, Sunday, March 27, Diane wrote:
You cannot let your experience with him keep you from doing what you love the most. It was not your fault, you were a very trusting person, . Let people know the truth. Believe me, so many of us have been duped by men. We all have had bad experiences.
Women understand these things — that some men are just creeps. You have nothing to be ashamed of Suza, you are a very trusting, loving, and kind person. I hope that one of these days you will find someone that deserves you.
Believe me, before Adam finds someone and is happy with her, he has a lot of changing to do. Will he do that? I don’t know but it is not our problem. He has been doing this for a long time, decades. He has to face his own problems and want to change. You can only lead a horse to water — you cannot make him drink.
It is really sad because Adam loves plants, animals, the earth, and all the things that nature brings to this world, but he doesn’t like himself. There is nothing we can do to help him unless he wants to help himself. He has had a lot of time to do that and still he continues down the same old path.
When will he stop using women and start liking himself?
I wish you would share your experience with your women friends.
* * * *
Then, wham, three days after this email exchange with Diane, out of the blue, I saw Adam’s cell number on my land line call-waiting screen. I did not take the call. A few minutes later it popped up again. Still did not take it. Just kept right on yakking with one of my honest women friends.
A few minutes later, I heard my cell phone ring. When I played it later, there was a message from Adam. True to form, it had a hook.
“Hi Suza, this is Adam. I just finished giving a talk on the environment at Moorpark College…“
He was all ready to make nice.
I could not risk returning his call. But I was curious if he’d followed up on our last conversation three weeks ago about getting some therapy for his lying.
I emailed Diane:
Adam just called out of the blue and left a message saying he just gave a talk…
She wrote back:
He did? Look out! Why do you think he is using that environmental talk as an opening?
On Thursday, March 30, at 6 am, I wrote:
I was on the phone when you called my land line. Got your message on my cell .
I am still grieving and it is too painful to talk to you. It will take me some time to process the fact that by lying to me you also stole from me. You think you are honest because you don’t steal money but by pretending to be someone you are not you stole my trust, my time and my affection.
Please let me know if you’ve gotten counseling or therapy about your lying. Pathological lying is like alcoholism and drug addiction. You are in denial as to the seriousness of your illness, just like an alcoholic is in denial.
The last time we spoke you said you would get help.
Half hour later Adam sent the following reply:
My first therapy session is scheduled for next week.
I hope that you will take some time to enjoy the season of spring. There is so much beauty out there right now. Do you know I counted over thirty wildflower species over in the Casitas Watershed area?
If you can get away from Ojai for a day trip, you must see the hundreds of acres of wildflower meadows up at Fogueroa Mountain (north of Solvang), or the upper desert carpeted with orange California poppies at the Antelope Valley poppy Preserve.
Well that made me mad. Forget about the wildflowers. I did not believe for one minute that he had scheduled a first therapy session next week.
Two can play this game. I fired back:
Adam, please tell me more about where you are having your first therapy session. The date, time, place, etc.
You must realize that without this information I cannot believe you.
When I wrote this email I also mentioned that I questioned some of the “facts,” he had noted in one of his recent editorials.
That evening Adam sent the following reply:
My therapy will be done through the Santa Barbara County Mental Health Department. (That’s where I have my medical insurance). The staff said they will call me this coming Monday to schedule my first session on either Tuesday or Thursday, after my work hours.
People may have gotten the wrong impression from that comment in my editorial. I need to be more careful in how I speak and write, giving wrong impressions. I am trying to learn.
And ever the master at distracting me, he added:
How did your event at WordFest go for you?
OK. I’ll play along. I ignored his WordFest question and wrote back:
I look forward to hearing about your first therapy session next Tuesday or Thursday.
Let me know the name of your therapist and how it goes.
In addition to all the emotional pain that your lies have caused, the other tragedy is that even when you are telling the truth, people will think you are lying.
It took a few hours for Adam to dream up an answer but when he did, it was a killer.
I hope that all is well with you up in the Ojai Valley.
When I called you the other night, I was only calling to see how you were doing. It was not a call to try and get you to believe or not believe anything I am doing. We both know that is hopeless.
If we had talked I would have kept the conversation on lights things, like how you did at WordFest,, the weather, spring flowers in the valley, etc.
I do not feel comfortable sharing with you any information about my therapy meeting location, therapists name,etc.
One night after your meeting with Diane, she shared a few things with me about your meeting. ( It was interesting how you both had totally different versions of your meetings, oh how us humans have a different perspective on exactly the same thing).
Diane said she thought that you might be a vindictive woman over all of this and she seemed upset that I had told you where my new job was.
She thought you might try to do something to wreck the job for me. She also said you know where she lives.
Since we both trust Diane I have to believe her, So in the back of my mind I am thinking, why does Suza want this information and how will she use it (or perhaps use it against me).
I do believe that mental health information is private. But I will be happy to give you a general overview of my therapy.
And since I understand that you will not believe that I will attend sessions, I thought you or I, or both of us, could ask Diane (again we both trust her, and you did tell me you were becoming good friends) that once I get started, to meet me at one of my sessions and watch me walk into the therapist’s office.
This way Diane could report to you that I did go in.
But she would not reveal to you the location or name of the therapist.
Again I am not doing any of this to get you to believe or not believe me. We both know that is hopeless.
The therapy is for myself.
There is something that you did tell me once about all this. You said if I just told the truth, that it would be no big thing to people. Instead of something I thought was shameful and negative.
So while meeting several new women over the past couple of weeks, when it was appropriate, in the conversation, I mentioned that I have been married before. I also explained that I live with Diane.
And you are right. Nobody thinks it’s a big deal.
Thank you for that.
Enjoy this lovely spring,
Now the blinders were really off!
I saw Adam as a cold, cruel, calculating predator.
I told Diane:
“Now I am seeing a really cruel streak in him. He is like a person that stabs you in the heart and then smiles and says, “Enjoy spring … enjoy the beautiful wildflowers…”
His killer Letter just about did me in!
I was livid!
All my yoga and Krishnamurti peace & love good Christian philosophy flew out the window. Every button in my psyche was pushed to the max.
Adam’s lying about getting therapy for his lying, accusing me of “fatal attraction,” stalking him at his home and job, and telling me all these other women didn’t think it was any big deal that he lived with Diane (“how refreshing”) so infuriated and enraged me it took every bit of restraint I could muster not to blast him on his lying Facebook page.
I wanted to throttle the daylight out of him.
I wanted to wring his sun-kissed neck, the same neck that I nuzzled up to at Beatrice Wood’s garden when I thought he was some kind of groovy outdoorsy woodsy nature loving eligible enlightened bachelor only a few months ago.
My John Muir man was worse than a total impostor! A man my friend Macy dubs as a “Pretend Man.”
It makes me sick to think I kissed his lying lips right in Beatrice Wood’s front yard.
How could I forget Beto’s hard-won wisdom, “All men are bastards*.”
I should have branded that quote on my quadriceps.
What could I do at the end of this absurd exchange but laugh!
It was the only weapon I could use without getting arrested.
It took every ounce of will-power to keep from doing something crazy and vindictive.
I had to lie down in the Goddess Pose.
I managed to respond to his email. I planned to then send his emails to Diane. I would not have done this had he not lied about what she said.
On Saturday, April 2, the day before I started writing this story, I wrote:
In your own words at Meditation Mount, you have “taken my heart and squashed it.”
To now accuse me of doing something to wreck your job when I shared in your happiness and expressed my support, even after we broke up, is beyond cruel.
I spent hours working on your resume and wrote letters recommending you to my friends for work. Have you forgotten this?
I will ask Diane to verify that you are getting therapy.
Adam was incorrigible. A few hours later he wrote back:
Subject line: This is getting interesting
I, (me-Adam) did not say you would do something bad about my new job. It was just a concern Diane expressed to me about you.
I trust her, don’t you? She mentioned the term “fatal attraction,” so she might have been thinking along those lines.
I mentioned to Diane that you would call her to get things straightened out.
I am curious, since you and I no longer have any relationship or ever will in the future (you could not or should not ever trust me again) why do you care what I do in life, therapy, job,etc.?
Don’t you believe in moving on?
As you can imagine, I flew even further over the edge. Adam was like some demon stabbing me in the heart, all the while smiling and saying, “Enjoy spring.”
What a jerk!
I should have disconnected my phone and internet service right then and there.
Instead, I wrote back:
May I remind you that I did not call you. You called me.
Your definition of “moving on” is “move on to the next woman and play the same game over and over again.”
It takes time to heal when someone you trust and bare your soul to betrays you.
I asked if you were getting therapy to help determine whether or not I might speak to you in person. And to see if you kept your word.
Adam, unruffled, wrote back:
Subject line: A simple phone call
Yes, you are right. I did call you. But, as I said in an earlier email, my phone call was just to see how you were doing, not to try to get you to meet me or believe me in any way.
As I said, had we actually talked I would have kept the conversation light.
I had no idea that a simple call would have generated all of these emails between us.
Again that is not what I wanted. Out of respect, I will not contact you again.
I could not leave this world without writing back one more time:
I don’t want to make light conversation with a man who has lied to me until he has demonstrated that he understands the emotional havoc his duplicity caused.
It saddens me deeply that after all we have been through you would actually lie to me about getting therapy for lying.
In spite of it all, I am a human being with deep compassion for other people. I hope you get the help you need. Your lies are tainting your work for the environment and wildlife.
I would like to know how your work is going and miss our meaningful talks But it is just too painful to talk to you under the present circumstances.
A little later I forwarded Diane our insane exchange:.
Subject: Adam’s reply. Tell me if you actually said any of this!
She wrote back:
I did not say that. As you may or may not have noticed he did not cite any examples. Good try Adam!!! This therapy cannot begin soon enough. You need to stop e-mailing him, the animals can take care of themselves.
Later Diane and I discussed all this. She reminded me how laughable his accusations were. Her home address is listed in the phone book and on the internet. Adam seems to have forgotten that when we first met he told me that he had a problem with women stalking him. I’ve never even driven past their house.
On Sunday April 3, the day I began writing this story, Diane wrote:
I was watching TV with my mother and I kept thinking about his e-mail to you.
I never said that you could be vindictive and call about his job.
Adam told me that you were the one that wanted me to follow him to his therapy session and watch him go in.
I told him ‘No” I would do no such thing!
He has no appointment for therapy. And if he did, how could it work? He would lie to the therapist.
Suza, we did not have different stories about our conversation over breakfast at Coffee Emporium He is making this all up. I don’t know why.
And now, at last, we come to the end of the story. Now you know what pushed me over the edge, why I wrote in Chapter One, on April 3, 2011:
Yesterday I got so mad that I ran into Rainbow Bridge and bought two slices of Raw Vegan Cheesecake, the only real treat on the Planet with no calories. And a bottle of Pacific Redwood Organic Red Mendocino Wine, the least expensive bottle on the shelf. While unlocking my E-bike, I overheard two women talking about how men in their age range (50 to 100) are now looking for women to support them. One said that the last man who left her hooked up with a woman who owns a lot of property and she got him to marry her by putting his name on the deed.
I zoomed home on my E bike, sat under a tree and slowly devoured the first piece, labeled “Find your thrill on blueberry hill.” Right away I felt better. I decided to save the wine for a future emergency and fortified myself with a few more bites of the second piece, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Then I went back inside my little apartment, laid down on my yoga bolster with the soles of my feet together in the Goddess Pose, and waited for my emotions to calm down.
And then I reached for my journal and began this story:
About five months ago, on November 19, 2010, I wrote:
Today I dipped my toe into the muddy waters of relationships. I hardly know this man and already he is causing trouble and disturbing my tranquility. The only way I’m going survive seeing him and not drown in a pool of unconsciousness and all my primal sexual longing, hopes and projections, is to write about it everyday…
May we live like the lotus, at home in muddy water. — Buddha
Still to come: Afterword
Three things cannot be hidden; the sun, the moon and the truth. — Buddha
*Note: Beato’s infamous observation, expressed in the heat of the moment, is not mean to be taken literally!