Dishonesty was a second nature when I was in active addiction. For a long-time I thought lying was a necessity. I’d lie to loved ones to keep them around. I’d lie to myself to preserve my habit- because the truth, and reality, hurts. My dishonesty served a purpose. If I quit lying, I’d have to quit using and face the pain I’d inflicted on those I love. But no matter how hard I try to ignore or deny it, eventually the lies fall away, whether I liked it or not. Because here’s the thing about truth- the truth is hard, the truth is awkward, and very often the truth hurts. It hurts, so we lie. But reality has a way of catching up with us. The world of pretend isn’t a cocoon, it’s a cage. We can only lie to ourselves for so long. Denial doesn’t change the truth- sooner or later we have to put away our denial and face the world head on.
In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson wrote “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally un-capable of being honest with themselves.” The Big Book goes on to say the AA way of life as “a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” To ensure I’m not fueling addictive thinking and behaviors by being dishonest, I have to practice rigorous honesty. Rigorous honesty means telling the truth when it’d be easier to lie. It means sharing my thoughts and opinions even if it may mean there will be consequences. It means not stealing or cheating, even if I know I can get away with it. When I’m practicing rigorous honesty I’m able to recognize and acknowledge my fears and character defects, and I’m living life in congruence with my values and moral code.