I discovered the feeling of guilt early.
Trying to steal a chocolate bar at a local shop. I wasn't allowed sweets. I didn't get pocket money.
So I thought in my 7 year old brain, I'll just take it. It will be fine.
A lady saw me, she didn't say anything to me, just stared, and I put back the chocolate.
I then sat in the car while dad finished shopping. All the time thinking, I am done, she will tell, but she didn't. I was free. I got away with it.
The guilt passed. It was bearable. And something in my developing moral compass changed.
An important lesson was not learned.

Next it was taking milk money with a friend, we got caught. Her Dad was angry. We were banned from seeing each other, there were consequences. I wish he was my dad. He was similar to my father, a solo dad doing his best, in a 1980s conservative town. But he considered me too bad for his daughter to be friends with. It was the guilt, loss and punishment I needed.
Then.
It passed. Nothing.
My dad was disappointed. But I was used to that, so I didn't learn. And it got worse. I became used to the feeling of being found out. Sometimes I was.
Mostly I wasn't.
There are steals that I regret.
Lies I wonder why I set myself up like that.
The lies and thefts that lost me respect of people I wanted to be liked by, or stay friends with. There are lies you have to tell to account for things you suddenly have.
But mostly, people believe you, and it gets easier.
You get swept up in it, the current gets too strong to swim against.
There are people I have tried to apologize to. Knowing that it is too late. They think of me differently now.
There are people who I haven't told I am a lier, and still believe my untruth. And I don't want to lose their respect, their love. I need it. Because lying made me dislike myself. It came with a lot of sex for respect. Which unsurprisingly didn't work. I wanted to be good at something, and men wanted me. I thought it gave me power. One of the biggest lies. It mostly gives you mental and physical disease.
I now have constructed myself with seperate parts. I've had to. The kind and caring parent, and friend, generous to a fault. Trying to hide the smell of the rottenness.
I am the dedicated community worker. The social advocate fighting for the underdog. But just there, hiding, adjacent, is the lier, the thief, the person who morally loose, foolish, an embarrassment.
People sense it. Sniff it out. The runt that should be 'done in', so the imperfect genes don't go any further.
But ostracism is just a social death. I have lived through many of those.
The punishment is my own, I chew my mouth, sweat with constant internal embarrassment, drink too much, deny myself things I don't think I deserve.
For an atheist, I flagellate a lot
How do I reconstruct yourself? Can I?
If you don't believe in a god, how do you repent? Not if you don't really mean it. If you're a loaded weapon, you know you're always capable of socially destroying yourself, at any time.
Is is enough to have balanced out the good with the bad?
Where do these constructs come from?
If, at 7 year old the desire for chocolate is the moral bar you set yourself, and no-one adjusts it, is that it?
I don't think so. I hope not.
I can be different. Better.
Not live in fear of being found out.
Have some self respect.
Not for God's sake. My own.
But.
I lie so well.

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