Liar, Liar

Most of the entries on here have actually been published to various recovery-related and rehab websites because most of them either I thought or were assigned to me by a man I work for as a freelance writer on UpWork, who is also in recovery. I realized, however, only so many people are seeing them on those sites, and since I’ve maintained the rights to them, why not share them as much as possible. You never know what could help even one person. So this is a subject that, if you’re an addict, you’ll know well…lying. 

Liar, Liar

When you were a kid, what did your parents teach you? Did you grow up obeying strict morals, with your parents instilling in you early on that lying is never a good thing and something along the lines of: if you lie, you’re going straight to Hell? Or were you raised in a household more similar to mine, where I was taught that while it isn’t okay to lie, a little white lie here and there, especially when asked by your girlfriend if her jeans make her look fat, is permissible, as long as it wasn’t made into a habit.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened. But some time between the age of four and five it began with the manipulation of obtaining cookies. I would sneak a cookie, lie and tell my mother I hadn’t had any, and she would give me one. Then I would ask my dad and lie, telling him I hadn’t asked mom, and he would give me one. This was just the beginning on what would be a long and treacherous road of lie after manipulative lie.

When it’s about something as seemingly trivial as a few sneaky extra cookies, it’s easy to see a lie as a harmless way to easily get what you want. But as I’m sure a grandmother, or teacher, or random authoritative figure has told you at some point in your life, lies will always come back to bite you.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t learn until later on in life is just how easily lies reproduce. One simple lie turns into two, which turns into twelve, and the next thing you know, you’re so wrapped up in the fictitious world you’ve created, that you accidentally actually believe it’s the world you’re living in.  

In hindsight, I see now that a harmless, or so I thought, lie quickly and aggressively turned into a massive, sticky web, which eventually led to my relapse on drugs and alcohol.

It started with one simple question, followed by one simple answer. My friend asked me, “hey, do you want to come over and help me paint my room?” Instead of just telling him the truth, or even a half-truth, such as “I’m sorry, I’m just really tired today. Maybe another time”, I went with the pre-programmed, ultra-ingrained option of the little white lie. I told him that I had just got a job and was starting in twenty minutes. Back then I would of told you I didn’t know why I did it, but I did. I was tired of feeling like the loser that didn’t have a job and just sat around his house all day watching movies. So in order to propel my social status and attempt to improve the way my friend looked at me, as well as get out of helping him paint his living room, I lied.
Fast forward three weeks, and half my apartment complex thinks I’m working at the Olive Garden down the street as a waiter. I mean I couldn’t risk telling one person something different and having my secret profession (or lack thereof) be exposed! Of course, I could feel the stress from it building each time somebody asked me a question about the hours or my boss or the hourly wage, but I was in too deep. I had to keep it going. What would people think of me if after all this time, now I tell them it was made up from the beginning? Well, if you’re in a similar situation or find yourself in one in the future, please take my advice and come clean any chance you get. Eventually, your lie will come out. It just will.

So how was this intricate and poorly-thought-out myriad of fibs become the cause to the effect of my relapse? Well, like I said, it got to the point where I almost started believing it myself. Obviously I knew I wasn’t actually working at the Olive Garden, but it was the day I went to the doctor’s office and told him I was working there, describing my completely made-up day of spilling penne vodka sauce all over my uniform and getting a $40 dollar tip, that I realized it was taking on it’s own fictional life. And it only got worse when my parents came to visit. I found myself hiding out at my neighbors’ houses because I had to be gone from 9am-3pm in case my parents unexpectedly stopped by my apartment. But I had to make up a different lie and tell my neighbors that I had the day off. See how it can get complicated now? So to make an already long story just a bit shorter, my parents stopped by my apartment and saw me smoking outside with my neighbor, during a time when I was definitely not supposed to be there. One thing led to another, and as a result, my pride, self-esteem, self-respect, and the respect of those around me whom I loved, diminished and then vanished.

This boiling pot of self-pity and shame eventually led to what that particular stew always leads to. Yup, you guessed it… a relapse. If you get in the habit of lying enough, it eats away at your contentment and spiritual growth, especially when it comes to your sobriety. And that almost always ends up in turning back to what we are so used to doing when we feel alone and ashamed. We drink or we smoke or we snort or we shoot.

It’s extremely hard to see it in the moment, but if you start practicing telling the complete truth, with others and more importantly yourself, eventually it’ll become as easy as it was to lie. So while it was a hard lesson to go through, there is a silver lining. Because of the mess that one little lie to get out of painting caused, I learned an extremely valuable lesson. Today, of course a little lie will slip out here and there. Afterall, I have 20 years of fabricating the truth to undo. But in general, I try to remain as honest as possible. And it is truly a great feeling to go to sleep at night and realize you haven’t told a single lie that day. Your friends, family, sobriety, and your inner peace will thank you for it and continue to grow in strength.    

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