[Serious] What secret could destroy your life if it got out?

my story isn't nearly as exciting/interesting as some on here, but i feel like i have to throw it up on the board. even if nobody reads it, hopefully it's a worthy exercise. apologies in advance for grammar and spelling mistakes.

i have been a compulsive liar for most of my adult life and for almost a decade, i duped someone i was in a relationship with and all of our mutual friends into thinking they were someone i was not. i preface this by saying i don't feel good about it, i never felt truly "good" about it, i make no excuses.

back story (i wont get too specific, it's too long/complicated): started out telling white lies when i was young (elementary school) to impress other kids. not that big of a deal. evolved by high school into telling people lies to illicit sympathy and the attention that came with it. by the time i got to college it got really bad.

i became friends with a girl in part by lying about a tragedy to garner sympathy. i had very few friends at the time (i have social anxiety, clinical depression, terrible self-esteem... i had a hard time meeting people), and was starving for some sort of human connection. weeks would go by and i wouldnt talk to anyone except my professors and cashiers at the grocery store. this friend and i had a real connection (platonic), so i don't believe the lie is the primary reason we became friends, but it did bring us closer. i had lied that my parents were both dead (reality: one was, the other wasn't) and that i had at one point beaten a life-threatening disease. i became involved with a mutual friend of ours, we moved in together, we were engaged. i lied to our group of friends for about 7 years, and i was a few clicks on social media away from being found out. that's how much they trusted me: for years, as far as i can tell, nobody checked up on my story. i'm sure people had suspicions. also, there were smaller more "harmless" lies along the way, but when taken together with the whoppers, are amplified. none of the lies can be justified. they can be explained -- but not justified. they were choices.

the entire time i KNEW that this was not sustainable. if i ever got married to this girl, what was the end game? never introducing this her to my family? keep my family away from her (I lied to them about her)? it ate away at me but i was too chickenshit and never felt safe enough to come clean. so instead of extracting myself from this group of people, i made a choice to maintain the lies. i'm sure the stress has taken a few years off my life.

anyway, after we got engaged my fiancee DID take those extra clicks. she found out about when i was away on business. the hammer dropped. she was angry, hurt, shocked, etc. she told our friends. she made me call family members with her on the line so she made sure i came clean. i believe she said this out of anger, but she wanted everyone to hate me. i deserved it. (also, to be clear, I never cheated on her, i genuinely loved her, i thought i was a good partner outside of the whopper lies i had told). i tried to make it as right as i could -- i helped get her into a new apartment, bought her furniture, etc. i wanted her to be ok. (i knew nothing could truly make it right). i never said some of the things i wanted to say, never properly made a TRULY heartfelt and extensive apology because i was so focused on getting her settled into a new life and containing the damage in my own. i really regret not doing. even if i could not take back the lies and the fallout, i wish i could change the way i apologized.

weirdly, outside of my fiancee and "patient zero" (the original friend i lied to), i didn't lose too many friends from the incident. people in general said they still believed me to be a good person and knew that what i had done was out of a place of darkness. this was shocking to me and made me angrier at myself for believing that i needed these lies to connect with people. but i don't keep in touch with many of the group because i don't feel comfortable around them any longer, and maybe i'm projecting, but i don't feel they are entirely comfortably around me (understandable).

a few years past. i sought professional help. i was miserable, i thought of killing myself pretty much every day. i got through it but i think about it everyday and, naturally, i still feel guilty. i eventually made a new group of friends and i'm honest with them. however, i worry every day that they'll find out about the incident, which rocked a fairly large group of friends and is gossip-worthy story. that fear doesn't really diminish as time goes on.

i still think about the incident every day (usually a few times a day). i still think about the friends i've lost and the fiancee i hurt (who is happy and married now). i still feel terrible about it. i hope i can move on from it. but i made my own bed, i made my own choices, and hopefully i can continue to contain the urge to lie.

note: as far as i can tell, this was not the result of parenting. my parents gave me plenty of attention when i was growing up, they never abused me or anything like that.

/r/AskReddit Thread