Our society is structured on lying. Granted that not all lies are the same, and maybe we can call some mistruths or withholding to be charitable. But lying is completely normalized and even institutionalized from the top down. For example, we have come to expect that our politicians and other non-elected leaders will lie to us as part of normal course. We even observe them getting caught lying under oath, or in the face of indisputable contrary evidence - there are rarely any consequences. It is rare there is even an acknowledgement. It has been normalized and accepted that we lie to each other to maintain the façade in how we want others to see us. Employees and employers lie to each other to try and get what they want. Spouses lie to each other to hide the parts of them they don’t want the other to see. Friends lie to each other out of “care” and enemies lie to each other out of “malice”. It is the way the world goes round, and we tend to give it very little thought.
On an individual level, each mask we wear necessitates its own set of lies’ and many of us learn to live life behind a thousand masks and ten thousand little lies. But mostly we have become comfortable and conditioned at lying to ourselves. Most of us are so conditioned to lying we are not even aware of it. We just get comfortable being trapped in that place where one lie makes the next lie necessary and each one becomes a lot easier. Each new lie only traps us into an uglier and uglier place, but for the most part that place doesn’t get ugly enough for a change. It is like a game of musical chairs that keeps going and going while the music still plays.
Addiction is an example of an event or condition that brings the music to a stop. Substance abuse disorder takes the patient to hell on earth in short order. The addict’s entire life eventually becomes one giant lie in which they try to convince the world around them that they are just “fine” while they are completely dying on the inside. But more shocking than the web of lies that the addict needs to tell the world around them, is the sheer madness and complexity of the lies they need to tell themselves to justify their own existence. It is a primal survival instinct, but it is self-betrayal and insanity, and as such, it cannot go on.
Addiction ends when the web of lies falls apart and the false persona collapses. As such, a life of recovery is a life committed to brutal honesty because the recovering addict understands that to lie is to take on the persona that leads to death. Truth is born of necessity. So, what can we learn about truth from the recovery community? Does it set ye free?
The gifts of recovery.
Truth is the only currency of value in a recovery. There are many suggestions in the recovery literature but there is only one requirement, and that is the truth. What I have observed, and learned, is that striving to be truthful leads to a life full of self-love and happiness. When I speak the truth, particularly about the hardest things that cause incredible discomfort in the moment, I feel lighter and free and so do the people that hear it. It makes me feel connected to the people I speak to, and it connects me to my higher self through understanding, compassion and forgiveness. It also gives others the opportunity to forgive and takes the relationship to unimaginable depths. The more I speak and share the truth, the more I want to do it because I feel the weight of the masks coming off. And critically, when I strive to always speak the truth to others, it makes it harder, much harder, to lie to myself. And when I am honest with myself, I feel it in my heart as it is the greatest act of self-love that one can experience.
I needed my life to become unmanageable before accepting the ugly place in which I had trapped myself. Regardless of what it looked like on the outside it was ugly on the inside. The truth set me free. Unmanageability is a sufficient but not a necessary condition to change and the truth can free you at any time and we are here to guide you on that road of happy destiny.