Addiction is ugly. It’s surrounded by stigma. When we’re in active misuse, we do things we aren’t proud of. For all of these reasons and more, addiction lives in a space fill with secrets and lies.
Because most addiction is rooted in trauma, it makes sense that most people faced with addiction are already good at keeping secrets before they started using. As people with unaddressed trauma, we become experts at hiding the ugly parts of our lives out of shame and fear. We’re told that we caused or we deserved the things that hurt us, and part of us believes it.
I have found that one of the most important steps in healing from addiction is to face and deal with the secrets and lies that enable it. This isn’t an easy process. In fact, for some it is more difficult than giving up substances. When we begin to deal head on with the parts of ourselves that we are hiding (from ourselves and others) – when we give ourselves the freedom to be ugly, to be real, to be honest – we discover a newfound freedom that can be incredibly liberating.
In addition to the damage secrets and lies and cause to relationships, the simple fact is that it’s difficult to be a successful liar! Think about it this way: if you’re honest, you don’t have to rely on your memory because the truth doesn’t change. If you’re lying and manipulating others though, you have to not only remember the lies, you have to keep up with who you told them to. That is EXHAUSTING!
I want to add a final note to this topic: Dealing with a history of secrets and lies has the potential to uncover things from your life that are difficult to handle, especially truths that we have kept from ourselves. It is absolutely critical to talk to a professional to make sure you are fully working through these issues in a healthy and productive way.