The Truth Shall Set You Free:
So Why Are You Still Lying?
9/6/2020 by Chris Cobb
How long have you been sober? No, seriously. Well I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt, but did you REALLY get a flat tire that lasted a week? Ok let’s make some sense here. I don’t know if you’ve been in sober living homes like I have, but whether or not you have, with all this sober time under your belt, are you working a program? If so, are you working it thoroughly? Applying its principles in ALL your affairs? Don’t feel too bad if you’re not a saint, no one is. Especially me. It took a LOT of work for me to really get the principles of the 12-step program I worked to actually show in my every day life. I was taught to be completely honest, transparent, if you will. But I also felt “Why do I have to tell everybody in this place every single detail of my personal life when they ask?” I personally believe that no matter the situation, we all need and deserve SOME degree of privacy and freedom to think for and to ourselves. But where do we draw the line? What boundaries are healthy, and which are not? Below, I’ll talk about some of the things I refused to share with the rooms (lie about), and some of the excuses / lies I heard from others. This is my personal experience within a recovery home, but can definitely relate, I’m sure, to many more situations in recovery. So, let’s get started.
Lie #1: Where You’ve Been:
Welcome to your new home. Filled with people just like you. Alcoholics and addicts. Fill out your papers, pick a bed, get to a meeting. You have 2 weeks to get a job so you can pay rent. This was, besides jail, where I wound up more than once in my life as a result of my will to keep drinking and the delusion that I could control it. If you’ve been in a place like this, I’m sure you know there are rules. You have to do chores, and you have a curfew. You get written up if you’re lazy or late. And what better than human nature to try to get us out of situations that aren’t working in our favor? We are adults, by the way. So, who’s to control us besides ourselves? The owner of the sober living home, that’s who. So, our nature is to lie. One of the seemingly easiest things to lie about is where we have been, since no one’s really watching us, right? When I was “awarded” my first 24-hour pass for having a job and paying my rent after 2 weeks, I decided to go visit “family”. But damn, I’ve also been lonely since my girl left me for drinking too much. Might as well get into my contacts… ope, wonder if Jane Doe’s home? Yep, she is. So, I go to “Jane’s” house. It was a great time! Oh shit, I’m 6 hours late getting back… Frantically, I think of the best excuse I can conjure. Ahh, flat tire, and car won’t start. Both at the same damn time. And I’m lucky to even have my license at this point, mind you. I’m too nervous to call “Jim” at the sober living, so I text him. “I’m sorry, my tire is flat and car won’t start. I don’t have money for a tow so my uncle Phil is coming to see if he can fix it”. And the reply I get back: “Oh yeah, how long ago did this happen, and why are you waiting until just now to tell me?” “Shit shit shit” I think to myself. So I rush back “home”, nervous as hell, and plan out what I’m going to say. But will they believe my uncle Phil who doesn’t even exist really came and fixed my car within minutes of me telling Jim?! I better stop and grab McDonald’s, get cigarettes and gas. I’m probably in trouble anyway. Basically, I just turned a mole hill into a mountain because I lied about one little thing. When I could have just said “I’m going to Jane’s.” And taken the late curfew extra chore and extra meeting “punishment”. But no, I allowed my deceptive human nature to get me in a pickle, now I have to explain a bunch of things I haven’t even had the time to make up yet. See where I’m going with this? Let’s get to that extra chore now. Read on.
Lie #2: Did You Do Your Chore?
Phew, they didn’t rip my head off about Mom’s house. I mean Jane’s. Or whichever one I told them. But they did assign me an extra chore and gave me 7 days restriction. Guess things could be worse, I’m sober so let’s face the music. Well, my chore was the damn toilets. Cleaning toilets after 20 other grown men who apparently don’t know how to shit, have shit and pissed in, on or around them. Fun times. Ok, not bad. I have to be at work by 7, so have to clean the toilets at 6. When I get home at 3, I don’t have to clean them again ‘til 8pm. Easy enough. 8pm to self: “This is bullshit. I go out one time and get punished when I did nothing wrong…” So, I do a half-assed job, or don’t do it at all. Looks clean enough, and don’t care about finding out if it smells clean enough, am I right? 8:30pm I get written up again. And I lie and argue until I’m red, blue, purple in the face. “I did my damn chore, you’re just here to be a dick and make sure I don’t make it!” So now I’m not only lying, I’m blaming others for my failure to do what I am supposed to be doing. Next house meeting is tomorrow, and I have to answer to Jim. Again. Is there a gun emoji? Disregard that question. Anyhow, I’m at the meeting the following morning, and low and behold, the almighty JIM looking at me with his ego and disgust. Yep. Another week restriction and it’s all Jim’s fault. Not only another week restriction, three extra meetings on top of the five that I already need each week… <angry emoji>. Time for a meeting!
Lie #3: How Many Meetings Have You Been to This Week?
Eight. I’ve been to eight meetings this week Jim. Now let me go see Ja.. Mom. Jim: “So who signed your sheet? There’s no Jane at the Men’s Action Group Meeting…” Ummm um she was filling in for Dave. I don’t know who Dave is. “So guess what, that’s strike 3 Mr. Cobb. You know what that means. You’re up for termination.” Damn. I only went to 2 meetings and spent the rest of the time with Jane. And I lied about everything. Now I get to sit in front of 20 other dudes and be in the hot seat, then have them vote me off the island or not. I grab my torch, ready to put out the flame. Luckily, Jim isn’t such a bad guy after all. Instead of kicking me out so I can go couch surfing, drinking, smoking, popping and snorting again and wind up dead or in jail… He gives me a 1,500 word essay on INTEGRITY. Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. And it went like this: Okay I won’t make you read another 1,500 words, but you catch my drift. After some time, I came to learn that pretty much every time I told the truth when I fucked up, it was received much better than if I were to lie. I owned up to my mistakes, faced the music, and started truly learning from them. I didn’t want to go back to my old life, where I was prisoner in my own Hell. And if not only telling the truth, but also keeping my side of the street clean and simply doing what I’m supposed to, will keep me safe and sober, I might as well give this new idea a try. I know my old ideas certainly never worked. A lie is a lie no matter how big or small. But I still do believe that there are some things I can keep to myself. However, if I ever so choose to wind up in a sober living home again, I should probably keep my shit straight so I don’t have to make up stories that get me put back in the hotseat, or worse. There is a difference between a lie and a secret. The best advice I can give is to find that happy median, that balance. And no matter what this balance entails, let what you do or tell do NO HARM to others, or yourself. Mic drop. Act wisely, my friends.