Denial and lying are integral components of the complex disease of addiction.
Denial is a complex defense mechanism that helps protect addiction. Lying allows for the rationalization and denial to create a realm where only the addict exists.
For myself, lying began long before drug use, in my childhood. I lied as a child primarily to protect myself or honestly for the silliest reason. Sometimes I just lied, I experienced a lot of fear in my childhood and I believe this contributed as well.. So in the beginning, it was somewhat self-preservation and sometimes just the first thing coming out of my mouth. I seemed to lack the filter that others had, as I was prone to blurting out inappropriate comments or questions. Let me be clear that my intentions were not to hurt others.
As I got older, lying became a way to gain acceptance. I was socially awkward, and had difficulty making friends. I moved around a lot, and lying and exaggeration became a way for me to get people to like me and fit in.
Denial In Addiction
“I don’t have a problem.” This is a pretty typical position that most addicts take until the very end. Another one is “I’m only hurting myself.”
Most of us refuse to acknowledge what we are putting those we love through as a result of our addiction. I had no doubt that I was hurting myself and I had the paradoxical thinking that although I knew that early on I had a problem I was not willing to admit or accept that reality. You see that is another part of denial you do not live in reality, you live in a fictitious world that you create and modify in order to excuse and explain your behaviour.
On some level I knew that my life was not reality that so many of the things I told myself were ok, were not. This denial allowed me to escape and escape became my number one coping mechanism.
If I did not like a situation then I escaped as a child it was through books, as I got older it morphed into self destructive behaviours. When I found the escape of drugs, alcohol and an eating disorder. That was it. I finally had a solution that allowed me to survive while not being present in my life.
It sometimes seemed like my whole life was a lie. Even when there was no doubt in my mind that things were horrible, that I was addicted and people were suffering around me, I clung to lying and denial fiercely as if they were a lifejacket and I was a drowning person.
Lying And Denial In Recovery
Many addicts feel that drugs are the only source of the problem, this was not the case with me I knew that the source of my problem was trauma-PTSD to be exact that in order to find recovery I needed to face the demons that haunted me. My soul was screaming from the pain and the addictive behaviours numbed that pain until the physical aspects of addiction took over. Then I had to have something or I could not function. When I went into treatment I had a very specific goal to get healing at whatever the cost. I knew at a core level that this was my key to freedom.
I did get clean. And life did get better. This was only the first step on my path to this new way of living. Early sobriety was painful I felt so raw and vulnerable as emotions bubbled up and overwhelmed me. Gone were the days were a pill or drink could push them back into darkness. I struggled with living, I struggled with life in general. I did not know how to live without denial, and telling the truth took practice and time. I found early on in sobriety. That it was much easier to live right and not have to lie to cover my tracks.
I loved this feeling it truly was freedom to not have to remember every single detail of your life. When you take the drugs away from the addict, you still have an addict. Perhaps the hardest part of sobriety was being honest with myself about my emotions, for so long I had believed that it was not safe to feel, it was not ok to have what I labeled “bad emotions”. Slowly and painfully I have learned that emotions are neither good nor bad they are simply a means to expression which should not determine my reality. That was the hardest part for so long I believed that when I felt an emotion it was reality thank God that is not the case.
Honesty And Authenticity
Some of it seemed small. For example, when someone would say something inappropriate or offensive, I would laugh and say it was okay. It wasn’t. This is dishonesty. When someone would ask me how I was and I said “fine” or “good” this was also dishonesty. I don’t know that anyone ever achieves perfect honesty, but lies such as this don’t benefit me or anyone else around me, so it’s something I have to constantly work on. It’s part of being true to myself, and growing as an authentic human being.
How To Recover From Dishonesty And Denial
For me, as for those who have come before me, the answer was in the steps. When I worked my steps the first time, I was able to peel back some of the layers of dishonesty and denial that surrounded my addiction. I was able to see how unmanageable my life was and look at my behavior honestly.
I was able to take more responsibility for my part in my resentments, and also take a hard look at how my actions had affected others, as well as how others actions had affected me. Events had happened to me that I had not part, although they left scars they were not my fault and it was time to let go of the shame and guilt that I carried. Difficult does not really describe the challenge I faced when releasing myself from any responsibility for the traumatic events that occurred to me. Unfortunately in this world evil things happen that is gift and curse of free will.
A big part of honesty for me was about self-esteem and self-worth. A lot of my dishonesty was rooted in the belief that I had no value and very little self worth. I often struggled with feeling as if I would never be enough. As I began to build my value as a human being, to give a voice to my truth, I learned to speak openly about what be truly honest and open about my feelings. A metamorphosis happened in me and still happens today as I grow each day. Learning to trust again and believing in my worth, have led to beautiful events in my life.
In this journey of recovery I have discovered that I must always be moving forward and striving for growth in my life. When stagnation occurs I am treading dangerous waters as I risk a return to old behaviours and ways of being. With this in mind I am starting my steps again. This is the way that I grow as I raise my awareness in regards to my flaws and faults.
I strive for improvement not perfection. No longer am I under the mistaken illusion that I could be perfect. Instead I work towards improving my behaviour one day at a time. Understanding that failure is part of success and that with each mistake I learn something new. I can be at peace knowing that I am always striving yet never perfecting.This is enough.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.