“He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time till at length it becomes habitual.”
– Thomas Jefferson
One of the most wonderful gifts I have received as I have worked to recover from my addictions is the realization that being dishonest – to myself and to others – is no longer a necessity. This may sound strange to someone who has never experienced living in an active addiction. However, if you ever have lived in active addiction, you know that being dishonest is just part of the disease. At first, telling lies is something you do to survive. Then it becomes second nature and you become willing and able to lie about stuff you don’t even have to lie about to survive. Just like the snowball effect of the physical addiction, being dishonest becomes more prevalent and more out of control over time.
The beauty of recovery is that we learn right away that we are powerless over the addiction. What a relief this concept was to me when I first heard it. After 29 years of thinking I was a pathetic, weak-willed glutton, I learned that I was sick – physically, emotionally and spiritually. What I learned on the heels of that was that the powerlessness was not just in relation to the addictive substance (food, alcohol, etc.); it was in relation to all parts of the disease of addiction. This included character flaws that were formed to insulate the addiction, as well as a spiritual closed-mindedness that served to block my relationship with God. What I needed to do to gain power over the physical, emotional, and spiritual grip of the disease of addiction was ask for help, follow direction, admit my powerlessness.
I haven’t met many people who wish to throw their hands in the air and shout out to the world: “I’m powerless! Without help, I’m nothing!” Talk about being vulnerable! Personally speaking, I don’t care how humbling it may be, I will keep admitting my powerlessness over and over again. Because as I have done that, my life has become more peaceful, easier to navigate, and significantly more joyous. Not only has the obsession with the addictive substance been removed, but the need to pretend so that you will like me has also been lifted. I no longer need to lie. Therefore, I no longer need to remember who I told which lie to. I no longer need to make up excuses for things I don’t want or need to do. I no longer need to hide my addiction. While living in recovery I have learned to be honest without being mean. I have learned to say “no thank you” without having to come up with an excuse that I think will appease someone else. I have learned to drown out the lies my addiction tells me by surrounding myself with people who are also recovering and doing their best to live their lives well.
The relief I felt in the beginning of my recovery when I first learned of my own powerlessness still exists, but on a much greater scale. You see, today, I have a relationship with God, through Whom I receive all the power I need to stay clean and live honestly. In that relationship, I am protected, fulfilled, and loved beyond anything else I have ever experienced. To me, admitting my powerlessness is well worth that reward!