imagesWhen I first sobered up, it was suggested that I start to practice rigorous honesty in all areas of my life.   No  problem, I figured I could manage that, how hard could that be? A few hours, later a friend called my  cell phone, I didn’t feel like talking so I let the call go to voicemail. Later, when my friend asked why I hadn’t picked up, I told her that I didn’t hear the phone.  Obviously this  was a lie. The thing was, when the words came out of my mouth and I lied to this person, I didn’t think twice about it. My lying didn’t stop with small ‘white lies’ though, I was accustomed to spinning yarns that were worthy of becoming short stories. Making up lies to cover myself was so ingrained in me that I actually did it without thinking about it; it just came naturally. That’s when I knew that getting honest was going to be harder than I thought because up until getting sober, I had definitely been practicing rigorous dishonesty. 

Why was being honest such a big deal anyway? Everyone tells fibs (lies that are told to be tactful or polite and seemingly cause no harm to another). Why should telling someone a white lie jeopardize my sobriety? I asked this question to my sponsor and naturally they replied that being honest is the right thing to do (who’d have thought that?) and it helps us become accountable and responsible – something I had been avoiding like the plague.

It didn’t come naturally to me to be honest because for years I had lied to everyone about everything to avoid the consequences of my drinking.   My sponsor told me that while I couldn’t change the past, I could do things differently from now on and if I kept ‘my side of the street clean’, I would keep my conscience clean too and therefore stop any feelings of guilt and shame that came from lying. My sponsor was right about all the guilt and shame. When I think back on all the lies I told, keeping track of them, thinking of ways to cover myself, making excuses, it was a horrible way to live and I was extremely anxious and guiltridden. When I became guilty anxious and uptight, I drank. If I wanted to keep from drinking, I had to find a way to keep from lying too.

So if getting honest is such an important part of sobriety, how does a liar like me stay sober? First of all in the very beginning of our recovery we need to admit to our innermost selves that we are an alcoholic or addict. When we start being honest with ourselves, we can start being honest in all our affairs. It took me a lot of practice and I still slip up and while I’m certainly not perfect, I’m told that this journey of recovery is all about progress not perfection. So when I start to tell a white lie, (such as I didn’t hear the phone ring or I was late because of traffic) the difference now is I catch myself doing it and tell the truth. There are times when I could have walked away with too much change from the grocery store or gotten something for free because the clerk still thought I had a warranty. On occasions like this I told the truth and in return I was thanked for my honesty. Now that’s a miracle!

Sobriety has given me many things, but one of the best things is the peace of mind that I get from telling the truth. Where lying seemed the easiest option for me, honesty has become the only option.  I guess you could say the truth really did set me free (but I have to keep on top of it!) 

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