Honesty as a Spiritual Principle
Alcoholics and addicts in active addiction know dishonesty and denial intimately, and are confused and frightened of the truth. The crux for us is that the truth is the only thing that can save us and set us free from our disease. There is an old saying in the rooms “our secrets keep us sick” that I heard when I first got sober,
Secrets represent defended territory within me that I am unwilling to surrender to spiritual principles. As long as I have these, I have not truly surrendered, and will continue to struggle with keeping secrets while trying to avoid and/or alter the truth.
Keeping secrets is exhausting. Trying to remember who I told what stories to, and what those stories were, took a lot of mental energy. One of the first demands the disease of addiction makes is that we lie for it. We lie about what we use, how much we use, where we use, and when we use. We lie to others, and lie to ourselves. At first the lies are small, innocuous, little white lies. Then they grow into bigger lies, then stories, then Denial.
I created a prison of Denial, built with bricks upon bricks of stories, held together with a mortar of dishonesty that I had to maintain with hard work every day. If I were to slip up and mess up my stories, or “finally get honest about everything”, the façade would crumble and I would be found out. That was terrifying, even though at the end I wanted the truth to come out. I was exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The disease had wrung me out, got the best I had, and was getting ready to kill me. It almost did. At the end I was seriously contemplating suicide by overdose. I could not imagine living like this anymore, or getting sober. I was literally saved when my fortress of lies and denial collapsed, the truth came out, and I was able to see that my disease, and the dishonesty attached to it, was killing me.
In early recovery, many people struggle with their desire to get honest, and their almost unconscious motivation to keep secrets and not tell the truth. When I surrender those secrets, I get the gift of freedom by practicing honesty. Honesty leads me to transparency and vulnerability.
We are all a mixture of light & dark; love & hate; trust & fear; solutions and problems. This constant flux can cause confusion and worry. A program of recovery teaches me an acceptance of self, a daily practice of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness, and establishing a connection to a higher power. Today, the level of my honesty indicates the level of my spiritual strength & connection.