Honestly, honesty is tough for me. I lived for a long time in my addiction telling small white lies, telling bold faced lies, or basically saying whatever I needed to say to get myself out of sticky situations. A friend once told me that it was so creepy that I could look people right in the eye and tell some extreme fabrication. Sometimes I told these bold faced lies for attention or to make my story more interesting, but the scariest part was sometimes I told these lies for no reason at all. It was like a natural reflex I wasn’t even aware I was doing.
The lies to the outside world were horrific, but the internal lies I told were far, far worse. Lies like, “I’m okay.” “I can handle this.” “It’s not as bad as everyone is making it seem.” When I stopped drinking some of the lies stopped, but some still lingered. My knee jerk reaction was still to lie when situations got tough or quite frankly, when I thought I could get away with it. For me that was always that question, “Can I get away with it?” That has been my mentality for a long time. Constantly trying to figure out what I could get away with. I would think of what could I say to make myself look better. I would think what could I say to make this or that conversation over so I could move on with my day. What will make this person believe why I am right? In my mind I was always right and had to prove I was right, by whatever means possible.
While in recovery I had the opportunity to be completely honest for the first time with my sponsor and I told her everything. I mean EVERYTHING. All the lies, all the deceits were just out there hanging in the air of her living room and I was finally free. That freedom came with a price. I found that I could no longer exaggerate to enhance my stories. I could not longer scam my way out of tough situations. I could no longer look at people when I knew I wasn’t being honest. This caused me to feel extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. It was like my biggest defense from the world was removed and I felt exposed.
There are about a hundred different situations where I have had the opportunity to practice living life honestly. One incident that just presented itself was when I moved into a new apartment. The apartment complex allows dogs and my first thought was, “I could have my dog come live with me and no one would know. I could get away with it and save $350 on the pet deposit.” But almost instantly I thought, “But why lie?” I knew I had the money to pay the deposit and if my landlord found out it would only cause problems. So against my natural instincts, I called my landlord and told her about the dog. It was no big deal and my dog can live with me now. This is just a small example of how honesty in recovery has helped keep my life manageable. I’ve come to learn that doing the right thing leads to a lot less chaos in my life. If I get a parking ticket I pay it. If I mess up at work I admit it and ask for help. If I know I will feel guilty about some action, I don’t do that action.
The biggest example of my honesty has been admitting I did have a problem with addiction. I tried so hard for so long to give this facade of “everything’s okay.” This facade that I had it together. That I was a functioning adult. When I went to treatment I had to admit to myself, my family, and everyone in my life that I was most certainly not okay. I wasn’t even close. This was the real rock bottom for me. From that low place, almost 2 years ago, I have slowly and surely built myself the life I’ve always wanted. I went from a leech on society to a real functioning adult. That admission that I was not okay lead me to this life I live today. I now help other women find recovery, I’m getting good reviews at work. I’m a daughter to my parents and loving partner to my boyfriend. These were all impossible tasks while I was living in my web of lies and deceit. My addiction robbed me of the opportunity to be the person I had always wanted to be and sobriety has given that all to me. I haven’t received anything back I lost in my addiction, but, in sobriety, God has given me things I never even dreamed would be possible for a person like me.
Recovery has shown me that if I deal with situations the right way, from the beginning, with honesty and integrity, it helps keep my problems small and manageable. I am by no means perfect at this, but I am working continuously at rigorous honesty. Instead of always trying to save face or look good, I can now admit to myself and others when I am wrong. Sobriety has given me a lot of things, but ultimately being able to look at myself honestly and be proud is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
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