shirley hornstein

An Honest Apology

For as long as I can remember, I have been lying. From the simple white lies, to the “if-I-say-this-I’ll-get-what-I-want” lies, and the this-could-have-serious-consequences lies, I’ve told them (probably even to you). In fact, I have spent the last 26 years (or, my entire life) lying to, deceiving and manipulating everyone around me, including myself. It finally, publicly, and devastatingly caught up to me last year and I made the decision to stop.

I’m here to apologize, and to tell you how it happened.

In short, my house of cards collapsed. After TechCrunch outed me as a liar and (ab)user of photoshop, I was subjected to the humiliation and judgement from people I have never met and probably never will. More articles surfaced, and my entire credibility was essentially erased. I lost my job. My friends. My life came crashing done on me. I was devastated, confused and ashamed of myself. Deep down I knew this would happen eventually because you can’t build your life based on lies, but what did I do to stop it? I told more lies, created more elaborate stories, abused trust that been given to me and pretended that everything was going to be okay. Fake it ‘til you make it, right? I was so lost.

How did I let it go so far? Well… that’s a question I ask myself too. I’ll try to explain as best as I can, but please know this is not an excuse – because there is none. What I did was wrong, and I’m ashamed of my behavior. I’m just offering an insight into the “why’s” a lot of people have asked me about, “why’s” about which I was always too much of a coward to give them an answer. I’m incredibly insecure, and I have been struggling with my insecurities for most of my life. Lying became my coping mechanism, because it allowed me to cover up  everything I hated about myself - my body, my (normal) upbringing, my (non-ivy) education, my job (or sometimes lack thereof), my (nonexistent) friends, and my constant fear of being unimportant. I could hide all those things with elaborate stories of grandeur that I thought would make people like me. I didn’t want to be myself because I didn’t like myself - so why would anyone else like the real me? Over the years those lies made me feel confident, and as the lies got bigger my behavior changed to match the lies. I started drowning myself in debt to keep up appearances, attended events I cared about (but couldn’t afford) and made promises I desperately wanted to fulfill, but knew I couldn’t. Everything spun out of control. So far out of control, that I completely lost touch with who I actually am, and as a result, my life fell apart. It’s an insufficient explanation, not an excuse, but the only way this gets fixed is if I start being honest about why I’ve been doing this for so long.

There are no words that could express how truly sorry I am for the pain, frustration and, for a lack of a better word, drama, I caused everyone around me. Given the countless friends I have lost because of my behavior, I am sure having crossed paths with me is something most people wish they could erase from their lives, which is heart-breaking. All I ever wanted was to make people like me, because I genuinely care about the people around me and yet my behavior did everything to make people hate me. I understand that to say that I am very sorry and embarrassed is not only an understatement, but also completely inadequate given the terrible mess I have made… but it’s how I have to start.

So why did I decide to stop now, when I could’ve stopped many times before and didn’t? It’s not like this is the first time I’ve found myself in this scenario, and it’s always the people I care about most that I was hurting with my behavior. Why now? Maybe it’s the pain of losing everyone & everything you cared about, in an instant, or maybe it’s the form of public humiliation I experienced that has made me determined to change, but what really matters is that it is different. 
I am committed to changing my behavior.
For the first time in my life I sought out professional counseling and have spent the last five months learning to work through my insecurities, processing my past and am trying to understand why I have such an addictive relationship with lying. I don’t think it’s too late for me to grow into the person I want to be, and while I know that I might make mistakes in the future, I will continue to grow & learn and do the best I can. Doing so will also mean making amends for my past behavior. I want to start building my life in an honest way, and I hope that the people I hurt will be able to see that harm was never my intention, and how truly sorry I am to have put them through this. 
My focus now is to embrace my true self, seek forgiveness from those I have wronged, repair any outstanding damage, and learn to speak honestly from my heart. I hope I get the chance to prove this to you.