“Truth or consequences?”
“Do you think you are addicted?”
And my response to that question resulted in several more years of me, and the ones that I loved, and who loved me, paying the consequences. It was not an intentional lie. Instead, it was a skewed perception I had based on my keen ability to stay afloat in an ocean of denial.
Most alcoholics and addicts, even well into their addiction, sweat bullets as they strive daily to maintain that phony façade that supports their unfaltering battle cry that screams from the rooftops, everything’s just fine: And let me tell you, I can attest to what a grueling, demanding job it is trying to prove it.
Working on a chain gang would be far less exhausting. It takes tons of both physical energy and constant mental gymnastics to obscure the truth. You become the sole performer in a three-ring circus. One day you might be the clown, hiding your pain behind a twisted rendering of a plagiarized smile, the next day, you might be the elephant in the middle of the living room that your family tap-dances around to avoid looking at a reality no one is equipped to deal with. Then, there are those days when in order to prove that you are up to the task, that you become the ringmaster, juggling it all, and micro-managing everything and everyone to perfection, or so you think, just to camouflage what is really going on.
I was so proficient at distorting the truth that I bought everything’s just fine, lock stock and barrel myself.
I couldn’t see that the immaculately kept house was a poor substitute for an environment that ignored my children’s emotional needs. Or that I was blind to the fact that while I was honing my culinary skills after a hard day’s work, attending P.T.A. meetings, and belligerently hauling my ass to little league games, that my children were wearing terminal frowns and spending most of their time at the neighbor’s house.
In recovery, I learned that Cash register honesty has nothing to do with self-honesty. Cash register honesty is not stealing other peoples property, or, if the cashier at the supermarket gives you back too much change, returning it. Cash register honesty is rather obvious.
Self- honesty, on the other hand, can be quite subtle. Some of its enemies are delusion, denial, and people pleasing. Seeing myself as the martyred wife and mother, for example, was one of my favorites ruses. Or when asked by my sponsor if I was ok, and responding in the positive when I could barely hold it together was another.
But people pleasing was my number one fix. I could tell you anything and everything you wanted to hear. After all, looking good was my end game. I thought it belied what was evident to everyone else, that yes, I was addicted. Truth.