Since I’m attending regular support group meetings, I often hear this phrase:
“You’re as sick as your secrets”.
Regardless of whether it is during the meeting or in a private conversation, the statement has the role of emphasizing a particular story somebody shares. These words bring up an issue that I consider the hallmark of alcoholism, namely deception.
Why do alcoholics lie?
If addiction would only be related to the inability of refraining from alcohol, then my problem could have been solved in a matter of weeks or at most, months of abstinence. The fact that I relapsed several times until now is the prime evidence that there’s actually more to my alcohol addiction than substance abuse.
I was a man who didn’t know how to live a normal life. To cope with daily challenges, I turned to alcohol for help. My old pal Jack simply placed a veil on my face and shrouded me from others and myself.
I was feeling guilty. My wife often brought up the idea of having a baby and I was very ashamed to tell her that I wasn’t ready to become a father. Even though I reacted positively to the idea, deep inside I was feeling guilty because I couldn’t see any direction or purpose in my life.
I could have told her the truth, but in my mind, the scenario always ended up horribly and painfully. My attitude towards this aspect added to the frustration about my work.
Hiding behind a wall of secrets
As a person who invested a lot of effort to reach this point of the recovery process, I can state that dishonesty plays an important role in the life of the alcoholic. I used various deceptions to cover the fact that things had gotten out of hand.
But I wasn’t just lying to my wife, friends, and family. I also tricked myself into believing I didn’t have a drinking problem. I always told myself that alcohol made me see things clearer. Moreover, ‘tonight’ is the night when I muster the courage to tell my wife I didn’t want a baby right now.
I had secrets other than my drinking problem that I swore never to reveal to another soul. However, I didn’t realize that withholding important issues and avoiding telling that special someone in your life how you truly feel would eventually create a schism between you and that person.
We all have to face our pasts
You deal with deception during the fourth and fifth step of the AA program. I recommend you take these steps seriously, since they are the tools of recovery that allow you to make peace with who you are. They represent a means of cleaning up the skeletons in your closet.
True recovery means learning how to be honest with yourself and the people around you. You’re not going there to learn a new set of skills that would make you look good. This is where the secrets come in: they act as the markers that tell you if you’re on the right path on the road to recuperation. That is why I always leave the title of this post to myself as a reminder note – don’t fall prey to my secrets if I want to achieve total recovery!