Almost 11-years-ago, when I was addicted to Crack Cocaine, someone said something to me that has stuck with me through my recovery and to this day I don’t believe a wiser statement has ever been made. They told me that addictions hide in our secrets. The sad thing is, I have no idea who told me that or even in what context the comment was made. The even sadder thing is, I don’t know if I was trying to get sober at the time or if it was said while I was in my addiction and I held on to it because I knew it was the way out. Since I am pretty good with information and where it came from, I would have to believe that it was something said to me while I was in the heart of my addiction.
I have been sober for 10 ½ years now; and when I see someone struggling with addiction, I often want to run over to them and ask them what is it they are running from. A couple times, I have come out and asked … and most of the time, the receiver looks at me as if to say, “What?” or “Who do you think you are?”. What they don’t realize, even after I explain it to them, I know what I am talking about.
Other times, in fear of being rejected, I simply wonder to myself and never say anything to the person with the addictions. When I get home or the next time I am alone, I often kick myself for at least not mentioning it, I mean, one thing I do know is that my rejection is not nearly as painful as their addiction.
I am reading the book Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter by Melissa G. Moore. In the preface of the book, she makes the statement: you’re only as sick as your secrets. I am sure there are plenty of situations out there that she finds herself wanting to tell people this little nugget of truth and I am sure during those times that she has, she has seen the same rejection I have with mine.
What are your secrets? If you think about your secrets, they cause you to do something to keep them hidden. What are those actions for you? What will those actions lead to? Maybe it isn’t the first actions that you are doing that is going to be the harmful one(s) … your initial actions might only be the “gateway” to the harmful one(s). A lot of times, as was my case, the secrets were merely a matter of one’s perspective. It was a standard that I held myself to and when I realized that others didn’t perceive me that way, I became lost. I no longer knew who I was or if I was ever the person I thought I was. I began to think, if I was never that person to begin with, then I have nowhere to return to … however, if I only got lost during the last few months, then how do I get back to it.
My self-perception wasn’t so much that I was perfect, but that I held myself to a higher standard because I didn’t want to be a failure. I went through a court battle that made me realize that there were people that viewed me as a failure to some degree. This perception by those few, that were in no way my family or friends, made me begin to hide parts of my life from my real family and friends so that they didn’t get the same perception. I have always been a family person and I shared anything and everything with my family; but, slowly I began to withdraw from everyone. It no longer mattered what others thought, so there was no reason to keep everyone in the loop. One secret became another secret and before you know it, I met someone (who by the way, my family didn’t approve of) that wanted to introduce me to the really big secrets … the ones that lead to addictions.
There are a lot of “what-ifs” here that one could say was the cause for the addiction; I think it started with the secrets. In my life, my family is my rock. The first red flag to me should have been when I started hiding things from them. I couldn’t let them know how I was feeling because that too could be a failure. I couldn’t let them know who I was thinking about dating because that was a definite failure in the making.
I can tell you the very night that I first knew that I was headed for trouble and did nothing to stop it. As I said earlier, I had started to date a guy that no one would approve of, but no one really knew about him at this point (I just knew what my family expected and what they didn’t), I didn’t see any reason to have that argument up until this point, so I never shared that with them. Also, up to this point, he hasn’t introduced me to anything either (just thought I might need to add that). I had this guy over at my house when my sister called me to babysit for her (another thing I did without question … and never said “no” to). I was to go to her house and pick up her kids and bring them to my house. Well, I had this guy at my house. This guy was also in the dark, I didn’t need anybody thinking I couldn’t act like an adult and think like an adult when I am in my 30s. I tell my sister that I was busy at that moment (which she never has in the past heard me say), but I would pick them up momentarily. I then explain to this guy, that I must go get my sister’s kids. I had to convince him to come with me because I didn’t trust anyone in my home without me present (sound familiar … another secret). Everything was fine … I mean, he was good to her kids and we ate dinner like they always did when they came to my house … it was merely the fact that no one knew about the other because I didn’t need their opinions about how respectful or disrespectful I was of their opinions. I laid in bed that night thinking about all the secrets. They were driving me crazy already and that was only the first night of it.
One thing people don’t realize about a drug addiction, you’re not going to wake up the day after you stop using and be completely back to who you were before you started. No, that takes a while … it takes a long while. It would be better to not have to fight that battle to get back. Be open with everyone. Be honest and let people know who you are: what your fears are, what you feel, who you like and who you don’t. I promise you, it probably doesn’t matter to them as much as it matters to you. The young people today use the word “random” (ex.: “That was a random conversation”). Today, I have a lot of random conversations with everyone I know. If it comes to my mind, most likely, it is going to come out my mouth.
Some of you readers are probably sitting here and politely reading this blog and wondering, how on earth random secrets lead to an addiction. Well, I am here to assure you, they do. One way they do it, when we share a random thought with someone, most likely, they are going to share their opinion of that thought. After hearing a lot of negative reviews of our remarks, we begin to shut down and that is the absolutely worst thing we can do. Our thoughts and conversations are not going to be liked by everyone; but we must realize that doesn’t change who we are and what they mean to us. What it does mean is that maybe we need to reassess ourselves and make sure we are in check. Their feelings and opinions of us does keep us in check and that is what keeps us out of trouble. So, my advice to you, the next time you have a decision to make about whether or not to keep something a secret … don’t.