Making my way through life, when I was drinking, was pretty easy. If things didn’t work in my favour or I didn’t like a situation, I simply took it upon myself to craft, create, manipulate or change the circumstances (behavior, people, etc.) to do what I wanted. It’s funny now, looking back, that I couldn’t identify myself as a selfish person, even for the first 6 months of my sobriety.
But I was – absolutely, thoroughly selfish. At the end of each day, my actions and my words were to serve the situation which best suited me. That wasn’t because I didn’t care about anyone else around me or because I thought that I deserved more happiness than anyone else – it’s because I was struggling to live, each day. I was dying inside and each day I was grasping to hang onto the edge of sanity. I was just reaching out to cling onto whatever tendrils of happiness I could muster up in my mess of a life. Within that struggle I couldn’t see past the cloud of my own unhappiness, I had no room to truly love another person or to give anything away – because, point blank, I had nothing.
I love this newfound meaning of the word bankrupt, because that is what I was, absolutely. I had nothing left to give to myself, so of course I had nothing to offer others. In the midst of all this self-fueled struggle to keep going, I discovered there was another friend I could rely on to help ease the troubles I encountered so often: the lie. I’m sure, like most people, I discovered the lie at an early age. I lied before I started drinking, that’s for sure. When I was 15 and sneaking out of my house to meet boys in the middle of the night, I lied. When I stole my mom’s cigarettes when she left the room, when I didn’t show up to classes, when I started to indulge in drinking… I lied plenty before I ever drank alcoholically. Those intentions definitely go back to the way I was raised, and so many other contributing factors, but that’s a whole other discussion. It was within my 16th year of life and my first year of drinking that I discovered the true power of the lie. I was able to get what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted, so long as I could use my elaborate imagination to craft the reality that I wanted. This sick understanding permeated my young adulthood. I don’t think I was pathological – as a matter of fact, if you had asked me at the time, I would have insisted on my authenticity. That is how pervasive lying became to me, so quickly. As fast as I began to lie to get what I wanted, I was just as quickly unaware that I was even doing it.
I made mistakes, I hurt people, I let people down and a myriad of other consequences followed my dishonesty throughout my adolescence, but none so deeply affected my life as the lies that I told myself. The concrete, dishonest, misdirecting, avoiding and deviant lies were blatant – I knew I was telling those. The lies of avoidance, distraction, denial and escape were the ones that I emphasized to myself every day, especially once I started drinking. Those were the ones that I began to believe.
And for me, drinking allowed these lies to grow roots and plant themselves directly into the core of who I was until recently, when I began to discover what they were and the consequences they have on my life. I can’t say that I am a completely honest person today, but I certainly do try. I try my best, and I catch myself (finally) when those tiny, white, seemingly-harmless-but-not-so-much kind of lies come tumbling out of my mouth. I don’t settle for dishonesty today, because it has never (not once!) helped me or truly gotten me the life that I wanted.
Today, I am honest about who I am and what makes me, me. I am honest about my past, I am not ashamed of it. I am honest about my present self, about what I want and need. I am honest about my capabilities, and truly feel like a better, more complete, authentic version of myself because of it. It’s more often than not the more difficult road, and the one less traveled, but it’s definitely the more scenic route.
I am honest with myself and others.
I honestly try to be, every day.
What do you do to stay honest? What does honesty mean to you?