One of my biggest reliefs when I got sober was that I could stop lying. The jig was up – no more BS and lies to family and friends about “what I was doing”. It was such a relief not to carry that bag around with me, especially because I wasn’t a good liar. I got caught a lot – whether it was white lies or stealing or making up stories (that was one of my biggest charades), it seemed no one really ever believed me. Or at least I didn’t think they did. I was able to compartmentalize my indiscretions and turn into who you wanted me to be. I did this for a very long time and surrounded myself with others that seemed to be doing the same thing.
So when I made the choice to get sober, the lying stopped. I had nothing to lie about anymore. The freedom I felt from that is unlike any other. It’s hard to explain, but to use an analogy it was kind of like living in color vs. black and white. I found the yellow brick road and my life made sense. I realized that not living an honest life was such a draw back to who I was as a person that I didn’t even realize what being honest was all about. Sure it was easy to be cash register honest, but to be truly honest with who I was and what kind of a person I wanted to be came slowly. I had to ask my new sober tribe how to be honest and what did that look like? Two Examples: I was a few years sober and was traveling in Palm Springs with my sober tribe and when we were leaving to travel back home and driving out of the hotel, sober driver commented, “Hey what’s with all the towels in the back seat?” I piped in, “Oh those are mine, I snagged them from the Hotel.” Apparently that is called stealing. Even at three years sober I didn’t realize some of my prior behaviors were still considered dishonest. Who knew?
The stronger example would be on the crush I had on someone when I was newly sober, I called him my “imaginary boyfriend” and my sponsor at the time said I wasn’t sober enough yet to tell him how I truly felt. The thought of telling anyone how I truly felt, let alone a guy, was just so unfathomable to me. When I was sober almost a year, I did tell this person how I felt – we were good friends – so it wasn’t awkward for me to have normal daily conversations with him. So when I was finally guided by my sponsor and another wise sober woman on how to communicate my feelings to Mr. Imaginary, I felt like I was a teenager and fraught with nervous energy. That was the first time I had to get really honest with someone in early recovery and it was so hard to do. Be honest. Share how you feel. Be true to yourself. All of that – just gut wrenching. Mr. Imaginary was kind in his response, but not interested. I was crushed – but I learned so much from that experience. It gave me confidence, self-worth and integrity, and really helped me move forward on my journey of sobriety and recovery.
Fast forward almost 12 years later and speaking my truth isn’t as difficult as it was then. I rarely lie – and if I do – well it’s not as bad as it used to be. I think my most recent lie was to my boss about “attending a family event” for a 4 day vacation trip to San Diego to attend a recovery conference. I don’t really think that’s lying, I think it’s just taking care of myself and not offering personal info to my boss. My anonymity is important to me and when, and if I see a need to divulge that, then I will, but for now no need .
A friend of mine, who has relapsed off and on for the past few years, recently said to me, “I want to live an honest life” and I totally understood what he meant. It’s a rush to live our lives with honesty and integrity. It’s just a shame that not everyone is on the same path as my sober self and I can only hope that the Universe knows I’m doing my best one honest day at a time.