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The Lie That Started It

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Memoir Part 1

code book

Stephanie was sixteen and Rick was seventeen when they first met at a church camp. Church camp is a place of fun, fellowship, and when you find things in common. Kids ages ranged from 15-18 and the camp was in the mountains of Oregon. They came from all over the state and many of them formed lifelong friendships.

When camp had concluded, Rick and Stephanie stayed in touch and became boyfriend and girlfriend. They lived, about four hours apart, in different cities in Oregon . The distance between their homes did not matter to them. Times were different in the late '70's and early 80's. Rick would drive to her home and stay at her house for the weekend, under the supervision of her parents, or Stephanie would ride a bus from her home for four hours on a Friday night arriving at midnight. She would spend the weekend with his family, who loved her, and would return home after church on Sunday. They would go on rides up in the mountains and have a picnic or they would go see a movie. Stephanie was head over heels for Rick and he felt the same way.

Rick was the youngest of three children and the only boy. His parents doted on him from birth so when he expressed an interest in flying, they saved their hard-earned money so he could take lessons. Rick’s father worked at a fish hatchery when Rick was little and changed jobs when Rick was in middle school to be a custodian at his school. His mother also worked in the school district as a bus driver, which she loved.

When he was 16, he got his private pilot’s license which was no small accomplishment. Sometimes, he would rent a plane and fly to Stephanie’s hometown and the two of them would fly back to Bend together. Stephanie’s plans through high school were to get a scholarship and attend college at Oregon State University. She was on track to live the college life with her friends and could have easily done so. She had straight A’s and was elected “Girl of the Year” and “Miss Friendship”, her senior year, and she was in the top 5% of her class. Rick had different plans however, and he proposed to Stephanie the summer of 1977 when she was just seventeen years old. Stephanie was engaged her whole senior year of high school; looking back now, she explained how odd that is, and how she cannot imagine that for her children or grandchildren.

Rick and Stephanie were well loved by their friends and family and had over 200 people who attended their wedding. After a short getaway to the Oregon coast for a honeymoon, they took up their first residence in a partially furnished cabin in one of the most beautiful mountain areas of LaPine Oregon. Rick had an entry level job in a nearby sawmill and came home grumbling about his job every day. He would complain about the splinters in his hands and the hard labor doing menial tasks that he insisted were below him. Together, they decided that since he would be the main bread winner, they should together pursue his love of flying in whatever capacity that would be. For Stephanie, college was put away, an afterthought to Rick’s plans for himself.

Rick was a hunter, and he would hunt in the woods with his father from an early age. Rick told Stephanie a story when they were dating of a time he was shot by another hunter accidentally. He would go into extravagant detail about the incident, how his father had to carry him out of the woods and how traumatizing it was for his parents. He told Stephanie that she should never speak of it to his parents because they were to upset by the incident and that it would cause too much turmoil for them.

Stephanie and Rick moved in with his parents shortly after that first summer so they could save money and he could get his pilot instructor's license; a plan his parents fully supported. Stephanie worked at a clothing store in a nearby mall so she could earn money for him to take lessons. Rick flew almost every day from the small airport in Bend Oregon. During the early years of their marriage when they would be talking, he would continue to tell little bits of that traumatic hunting story here and there. On Rick’s stomach he had a birthmark and he said that it was from the gunshot wound. He would implore Stephanie not to bring it up. One day when she was doing dishes with Rick’s mom, Stephanie began to talk about the incident and started to ask her about it. Rick overheard the conversation and came running into the kitchen to break up the conversation. Rick reminded her that she had promised not to discuss any of what happened with his mother. She felt terrible for not only betraying his confidence, but possibly hurting his mother whom she cared for a great deal.

A couple of weeks later when they were lying in bed, Rick admitted it was all a lie. He told Stephanie that it really never happened and since he knew she would find out one day that it wasn’t true, he would go ahead and tell her now. Stephanie was not only astonished by this total fabrication, but wondered how many other lies he might have told her. She silently laid in bed with her mind swimming, not knowing how to respond and thinking how bizarre it was that he would make up a lie so intricate. Not to mention that this story he concocted went on for years. Despite the extravagant detail, it turned out this story was true only in Rick's head. His desire was to make himself look good no matter what. He realized that she fawned over him with this exaggerated lie, and he liked the attention. Unfortunately for Stephanie, this was not the last time such a story would impact her life.


Early on in their relationship Rick began showing pieces of his true character. His lies continued to grow in frequency and complexity. Some were very small, so small in fact that she didn’t even realize they were lies. Regardless of their size, they were all things to make him look good or to make him look more important in her eyes. Sometimes the lies were simple, like he hadn’t had anything to eat all day. Later Stephanie would find receipts where he had gone to eat at his favorite Mexican restaurant. A lie this small seems simple but it serves a purpose.

This is the beginning of the true story that will progress in unfathomable ways in my upcoming memoir. It will explore the psychopathology of narcissism, gaslighting, and abuse in all of its forms.

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