If you have never been to a 12 step group of any kind, you
may not have heard the saying "Secrets keep us Sick." Alcoholics
Anonymous, also known as "AA" started the use of this very poignant
mantra, to remind the addicts that keeping everything a secret is not healthy.
What is a secret? Sometimes its a secret you keep from yourself, when you keep
pretending that everything is alright. You have an inkling that things are NOT
ok. Your spouse seems to be complaining more, your kids are emotionally
distant, job after job ends for reasons you justify away. The secret you've
been keeping from yourself is that your drinking is effecting your life.
There are questions in the Alcoholics Anonymous book to ask yourself as a self test to check if you have addiction problems. The questions are very subjective. One is, "do you drink alone?" Not everyone who cracks the occasional beer to enjoy with pizza or nachos has a drinking problem. Some people do. Some teenagers are hiding scotch bottles at the back of their closet, sucking them down in private, maybe that's a problem. Some adults are waking up on the floor face down from being passed out. That is PROBABLY a problem. Making excuses all the time, if its a pattern that might signify a problem.
I remember how well my addict husband played both sides of an argument while he was lying to himself about his addiction problems. For example, before he left he was pulled over by a police car for driving erratically. Coming home furious after the incident, Howard claimed the cop, "Must have been lying!" I questioned him on why he was so sure. "Because," stormed Howard, "He says he was following me for a mile! No ONE would follow me for a mile if I was driving erratically, he would have pulled me over right away!"
"Why do you say that?" I wondered.
Howard argued that if his driving was SO dangerous that it merited a ticket, there was no way that a police car would allow him to drive as far as a mile. According to Howard's addict logic, that was "proof" the cop was lying. The opposite side is what he would also argue. That if a police car pulled him over right away, not enough driving had gone by to diagnose erratic driving. He would argue, he only crossed the line slightly while he was lighting a cigarette. His ability to lie to himself was truly stellar.
His ability to lie to me was a bit more suspect. Three major vehicular accidents is as many months. Swerved to avoid hitting a deer. Another truck ran him off the road. A pattern of other people being a fault. A pattern of no accountability. A pattern of being helpless in the stream of life. IF that's how you feel, helpless, you may well be an addict. If you hate yourself, and try to forget that feeling by stuffing substances into your brain, you may want rehab.
The lucky addicts reach the point called "rock bottom" when it's curtain time. You either have to die to make the cycle stop, or stop the cycle, stop drinking, stop drugging. Lying to yourself about it, is finally hurting your self in addition to other people. The lucky addicts get help. One of the first things they are encouraged to do is out the "secret." Stand up and cop to being an addict. It's liberating, the first step in recovery. After that other steps follow, including doing an inventory, and making amends.
A person is not truly recovered until they make repair. Its such a lovely process. You may find some people are still angry. What's so great and freeing, is that you don't need their approval to make amends. Go ahead and sent them $5 a month until you've paid back what you owe them. Never mind that you can't afford the whole hundred at once. The important thing is feeling good inside, being right with yourself. Liking yourself is the best iron against relapse. If you liked yourself enough in the first place, you wouldn't BE an addict. You'd be sober.