Fear brings out the worst in people, and marriage certainly brought out the worst in me.
Unlike most young women I knew, I was less than thrilled to be going from a "me" to a "we." Don't get me wrong. I loved Michael, the man I was marrying, but I wasn't used to taking others into consideration. I was rubbish at compromise. And, most of all, I was afraid that—by marrying—I would lose myself: my identity... my independence.
This is what made me a pathological liar.
As I couldn't very well show my enduring independence by dating around, I grasped onto power wherever else I could. I maintained a healthy social life apart from Michael. I worked hard to build a successful and fulfilling career. I built our home upon my tastes and childhood dreams. I kept my checking account and credit card accounts separate from his.
Unfortunately, I had atrocious spending habits and, soon enough, I was lying about purchases, balances, bills, and more.
It started with books, stuffed into my shoulder bag so that I could pretend I'd owned them for eons. Soon after, I began ordering things from Amazon, having the packages sent to my office. Following clandestine trips to the mall, I would keep the shopping bags hidden in the trunk of my car, sneaking them into the bedroom closet when I was home alone.
I was hiding my purchases from my husband, keeping him in the dark about what turned out to be a $10,000 secret.
And this wasn't the first time.
No. The first time was back in college. I was away at school, with my very first credit card. My weaknesses? Urban Outfitters, Arden B., and the handmade crafts store I was working at part-time, where I developed a taste for fine woodwork, art jewelry, and kaleidoscopes. It was my mom who eventually bailed me out.
My shopping problem followed me home from school and, the second time, my grandfather gave me the money to pay off my debts. The third time, my mother once again stepped in.
The fourth time was when I first moved in with Michael, and I remember him telling me that I couldn't let this happen again.
He didn't know my history with money.