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Why is honesty so important in recovery?

In sobriety, honesty is always the best policy.

Joel de vriend/Unsplash
Honesty has proven for years to be the best policy when it comes to recovery
Source: Joel de vriend/Unsplash

One of the tales I heard when I was young was the story of Peter and the Wolf. If you recall there was a young man named Peter, who was entrusted to guard the sheep. The problem with this young man was that he had a terrible reputation for playing practical jokes or lying about the situation he was in. Peter would often call out that there was a wolf attacking the flock and when all of the men came, they would find young Peter laughing that he had fooled them. This process continued for several months.

After a period of time in which the men grew tired of the constant lying until the men decided they were just going to ignore the boy until one day the wolf came again and because the boy constantly lied and not only did the flock get attacked but so did the boy. Imagine how much of a difference there would have been had Peter learned to be honest not only with himself but also with his family and friends.

This is the major problem with individuals who are active in their addiction. Often the addict will lie, starting with lies to himself, and then he will start lying to others. However, when the addict starts to tell one lie to cover his tracks, then he often finds himself telling another lie to cover all all the lies he was told. I know for a fact that I lied to the individuals that I cared about the most.

The one thing that I have had clients tell me often is they would tell their families that this was the last time and that they are going to be different and not be the addict they knew. So many times that same individual would often last for a period of time and then when they became comfortable they go back to their addiction thinking that one drink or use one more drug and then they have to utilize more and more and the family will often think that it was just a matter of time.

One of the things that I often teach clients is that the thing that their family wants is not hearing them say that they are going to be different, but to physically show them they are different and not just their words. I have often taught them that unless they are willing to put feet on their words then they will not get very far in life. In other words the analogy of words without action will not get one very far in life applies to every facet of the life of the individual who is in recovery.

The one individual I thought I had fooled during the depths of my addiction was my grandmother. This was an individual whom I would never have dared to see if I had any alcohol on my breath. I would go and see her on Sunday’s as was my tradition so the night before I would often limit the amount of alcohol I would consume so that I would be able to sober up before I would go to see her. Every visit was a pleasant one and she never brought up my drinking and when I left the house, she would often tell me to behave myself and I would tell her always. The problem with this is that I knew good and well that I was not going to behave myself and that I was headed straight for the alcohol.

When I had quit drinking, one of the first individuals that I had to go and see was my grandmother. I was shocked (although I should not have been) that she had already knew the depths of my addiction. My grandmother who lived across from the liquor store, would often tell me that she would sit in her trailer with the lights out and watch me consume alcohol throughout the course of the week and weekends. I had often thought she was asleep but should have known better. The reason for this is that she would often get me up to go and pick up the cans in the same parking lot when I was a kid. Now I was the individual that was contributing to the cans that were being left behind because of my drinking.

My grandmother often indicted that as she watched me get intoxicated night after night and would watch me get in my car and drive off under the influence. As I would pass the house, she would often pray that I would stop and go to sleep at her house and that I would have always been welcome. I could have gone in there without any form of judgement. However, when I would not stop, she would ask God to watch over me on my way home and then for me to quit drinking.

I was so ashamed of the individual I had become during the depths of my addiction. I made a promise to her that I was done with drinking and she would be one of the individuals who would hold me accountable for my actions and she would be the first one that I would call over the last 10 years of her life when something did not go the way that I wanted it to in my life and she would often help me get myself refocused and place myself back on the correct path.

Over the past 30 years, I have learned that honesty is the best policy. I have found that as long as I am willing to be truthful when it comes to my recovery, then I find that I do not have to work that much harder to have to cover up the lies because there is no lie to begin with. So the one thing I will tell you and anyone that is in recovery is to be honest with yourself and you will be amazed with how far this will take you in the journey of recovery and in your life.

Taking recovery one day at a time (10,432 and counting)

© Michael J Rounds

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