“The essence of bravery is being without self-deception.”
– Pema Chodron
It didn’t take long at all. After a few short weeks I began every morning with my new magic recipe: one Percocet and a vodka cranberry on the rocks. I would have preferred the old favorites but my exclusive taste for fine wines was too costly now. The vodka tasted like the poison it was, but I was drinking for its sheer effect. I quickly learned that too much food in my stomach diminished my high. So I skillfully crafted a meal replacement plan with two light snacks a day in-between drinks. It kept me feeling great all day long. Yes, I eventually added a nightcap, too.
Nothing could have stopped the path I was on now.
I had all the inner peace, happiness and energy that had been long forgotten. I actually enjoyed my own company again and had a new motivation for life. I decided to go back to school to be a licensed Health Practitioner. I had fully recovered from a severe case of heavy metal poisoning so I knew how much I could help others with this condition. Wow! I had plans now. I was on a roll!
A future was being created and I had a purpose again!
Then, I started having trouble sleeping. An anxiety crept in. My mind was in over-drive a lot. That’s the only way I know how to explain it. I finally went to the doctor for sleeping pills. I told him I didn’t know why I was dealing with insomnia and the truth is, I didn’t! I never connected the dots that it could be caused by the pain pills and vodka. I actually thought it helped me to sleep. I walked out of my doctor’s office with a prescription for valium. Perfect! That fixed that problem!
When the doctor first saw me, he looked a bit startled. I was 40 pounds heavier. He had been my family physician for years and he used to call me “Ms. Carly the Fitness Queen”. Even the nurses would often comment on how I managed to stay in such great shape. Back then, I took great pride in my extremely disciplined life. I spent 2 hours a day at the gym and maintained a strict diet. I wouldn’t even eat a French fry or take an aspirin. Can you see the pattern here? I chuckle only because looking back, I can see it so clearly now. First I was a workaholic. I then morphed into a top-notch fitness guru. Next, I created the perfect Connecticut home with the white picket fence and all. Really, it would have made Martha Stewart proud! And my perfect marriage? Well, it was perfect except for the fact that my husband didn’t want to be there anymore.
I can now see how my addictive behavior existed long before the substance abuse.
Back to Dr. Armor. He asked me if I had been eating a lot of sugar. I told him the truth: “absolutely not”. He wanted to do some blood work. My cholesterol was a whopping 520! On the follow-up visit, I assured him I was eating only healthy foods, as always, and I never ate sugar or junk food.
Driving home, my brilliant mind came up with a dazzling solution for this baffling mystery – it must be the sugar in the cranberry juice! So I switched to soda water with my daily vodka. Another problem solved!
Only because I’m now free from addiction, can I look back at my classic alcoholic thinking as utterly comical! This typical delusional thinking was my highest version of honesty at the time. I believed what I needed to believe in order to keep drinking and drugging.
Of course there are many other reasons for living in self-deceit and I’m sure alcoholics do not have a monopoly on delusional thinking. But I don’t know a single alcoholic who didn’t use it to a state of perfection. My first attempts at being honest about my alcoholism were far from genuine. It took me a while to ‘get it’ since my automatic response was to deny the truth.
It took a near fatal relapse for me to get radically honest with myself. Finally, I had to accept the truth that I was a full-blown alcoholic. I had to let go of the hidden hope that maybe one day I could at least drink wine on weekends. Once I stopped resisting reality, an unfamiliar inner peace emerged. From that one holy instant my life dramatically transformed and I began to blossom in my sobriety, my life forever changed.
I’m no stronger or smarter than anyone else. But the fact that I’ve been happily sober for three years now means anyone else can do it, too. For me, it all started with self-honesty.
“The truth may hurt for a little while, but a lie hurts forever.”