Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
Q. At least I’m not a COVID denier: I lied about a really stupid thing and now I don’t know how to fix it.
When COVID first hit, obviously my friends and family were all scared. Some of us had underlying conditions that made it extra scary, so we were all ready to obey the rules, wear masks, stay home, etc. But a lot of my friends got sick anyway. Nobody died, thank goodness, and while a couple were really sick, they’re better now.
My problem, and the stupid thing I did, is that I lied and said I had COVID too. I don’t know why I did. I’m not usually a liar. But when I kept seeing messages about “Kari has it,” “Michael has it and so do his kids,” and all the support and love they got, I just one day said I had it too. And I posted selfies of myself looking sick, and pictures of when I got “better.”
But it gets even worse. Once I was “better,” I missed the attention, so I said I had COVID again. And this time, I gave myself long COVID and I’ve been “sick” for months. I finally met up with some friends in person last week and it hit me just what a nasty and stupid thing I did. For some reason, it didn’t seem real when it was just on social media and Zoom. But now I have to face my friends again and I don’t know what to do. Confess and have them know what a dumb thing I did? Or just get better fast (I was faking symptoms of long COVID during our in-person get-together) and keep this secret?
A: Fake a speedy recovery? Are you kidding me? No, absolutely not. You need to make like Daniel Day-Lewis and retire from acting right now. You must tell your friends, in person, about what you’ve done. I don’t know how that’s going to go but you have to do it. You must take responsibility for lying without offering excuses for yourself.
If I were you, I would also get to work on a plan to dig into this compulsion to lie, with a trained professional if possible. Your apology will seem more sincere and you will end up in a better place personally if you go in with a solution. What a caper!
There’s a young woman, “April,” in my social circle. We’re not close, but we were involved in the same community volunteer project for a couple of years. A wife and mother of two small children, April is 26 years old but acts much younger. She’s not vicious but very self-absorbed and demanding. She talks way too much (always about herself) and has a big sense of entitlement, and when she had kids, no one else could match the experience. Recently she got a late-stage cancer diagnosis and has been unabashed in demanding—not requesting—assistance from everyone. The reality is that her prognosis isn’t good, and she really does need help with meals and child care. But she’s not very well-liked, and—surprise—very few people are stepping up to the plate. What is my obligation here?