“My liver isn’t like other people’s.” “I drink and drive sometimes, but I’m a careful driver.” “I only use on the weekends.”
When we’re caught in the midst of an addiction, the lies we tell ourselves can prevent us from seeking help. Just when we have a moment of clarity, we begin to wonder, “am I overreacting?” “Maybe this is what ‘normal’ looks like,” or, “I’m just having fun!” We often look back at our patterns and behaviors and ultimately justify them – leading to more use. The lies we tell ourselves (and often believe) can keep us stagnant and stuck in our addictions.
Truth is, I’ve known scores of addicts and alcoholics that have been stuck in this thinking and blinded from reality, and we aren’t fooling anyone except ourselves. The good news is, that we’re not the only ones thinking these thoughts. The bad news is, staying in this mindset can lead us down a dark road. As addicts, our mind has a sick way of twisting the truth and ultimately hurts us in the long run. Before we know it we’re living in a bubble of outlandish behavior and irrational thought. In an effort to protect myself from my own thinking and the realities of my own drinking, I ultimately set the stage for pain and heartache.
At one point or another, most of us have told ourselves some of these lies:
“I don’t use everyday, so I don’t have a problem.”
“It’s not like I’m having a cocktail for breakfast! If I was a real alcoholic, I’d have a drink in my hand at all times!”
That was one of the lies I used to tell myself. I was a successful young woman with a busy life who kept a full-time job. “If I was actually an alcoholic or an addict I would have been fired months ago.” I stayed stuck in this thinking for years. The truth was, I drank any chance that I could. Unfortunately, society led me to believe that a stereotypical alcoholic was a bum under a bridge drinking out of a brown paper bag. On the outside, my life looked like a dream but on the inside I was a miserable train-wreck. There is no one-size-fits-all definition to an addict or an alcoholic, we all look different – however, our thinking is much of the same.
“Everybody else uses like I do.”
“They’re using the hard stuff, I only drink beer and wine.”
Comparing got me in trouble, nearly killing me. In actuality, I really didn’t know how much everyone else was using, or what they were using – but I liked to believe I did. This helped me justify my own using and cause me to feel “better than.” Maybe my friends used like I did, but maybe they didn’t. The fact is that it didn’t matter how much everyone else used; what mattered is how I felt when I was using and that I regularly lost control after the first drink.
“It’ll be different next time.”
How many times did I tell myself, that I would “just have one,” while later kicking myself for acting erratically or blacking out? The next morning I would make sweet promises to myself to quit for good and for all, but later, ended up doing the same thing that night. I was a prime example of insanity – doing the same thing but expecting different results. Telling myself that “it would be different” was a great way of distorting my reality and steering clear from the painful truth.
“I can quit anytime I want.”
I can’t count how many times I used to tell myself this, dodging painful realities. Telling ourselves that we can quit anytime makes us feel like we are in control. Feeling in control helps ease our nerves. Maybe you can quit, and maybe you can’t. Have you quit for an extended period of time? Maybe you’ve quit for a couple days, weeks, or months – later picking back up where you left off. The real question is, how did you feel when you weren’t using? Did you miss using? Did you feel like a part of your life was missing? Just because you can quit doesn’t mean that you don’t have a problem.
“My using doesn’t effect anybody else but me.”
Sure, I paid my bills and got to work on time, but I didn’t realize that the more I progressed in my addiction, the more I became angry and withdrew from the world. I left my family and friends in the dust, later, leaving them to pick up the pieces. Some mornings I was too hungover to follow through with commitments. The forgotten conversations I had with my significant other left him forlorn and frustrated. I was dissatisfied and angry with the world, and had a general irritability towards life. The only presence I had within the world and within myself were stuck in the bottle, soon affecting every area of my life.
“The doctor prescribed it, so it must be okay.”
I just needed that pill at night to help me sleep! And it’s a professional that prescribed it, so it must be okay, right? Wrong. Soon, I would need something to help me wake up in the morning. But, not long after that I need something to soothe out my nerves. And later, I need the sleeping pill again. Soon, I found myself doctor shopping all over town, giving them half-truths to get what I wanted. “Plus, I wasn’t buying them on the streets!” Getting a piece of paper with a doctors signature justified in my mind that using these substances would be okay, without disclosing the frequency or dosage I was using.
“I’ll be happier at happy hour.”
“I’ll be more creative, too.”
But will I? Yes, using did something for me for a certain amount of time. It got me out of myself and away from the realities that I didn’t want to face. When I was using I was happier, more creative, able to get more work done, and more sociable – or so I thought. When I bought into the lies my head was telling me, I set myself up for more pain and failure in the long run. My perspective of life was skewed. Drugs and alcohol were a great mirage. They slowly robbed me of myself and ripped me of my identity and happiness. In the long run, I had to find me. Through sobriety, I realized that external factors couldn’t define myself or my internal joy.