Secrets, Addiction’s Best Friend

How many secrets can we keep when we love someone struggling with addiction? There’s no limit. We keep hundreds. We keep THOUSANDS. We don’t keep track because that would drive us insane but think about it. We don’t want people to know where our mom really is, rehab. We don’t want them to know that sure our dad is hilarious when he is at the club drinking but when he is puking at home it’s not as fun. We lie about why they can’t make it to events. We lie about where they are, how they are doing, things they did for us growing up. We lie all the time. We lie about their professions, we lie about reasons things happen, we lie about anything. We lie about everything.

We also lie to them. I remember not telling my parents about events at school that parents were invited to attend. I remember trying to keep Parent’s Night away from them my senior year. I remember telling them the reason I didn’t have people over was because they were afraid of our dog. I told so many lies growing up, I couldn’t keep track of where the truth was. The truth and the lie became intertwined. The reality was somewhere in there but I couldn’t see it and I didn’t want to see it.

I thought the lie was helping me. I thought it was for my benefit. I didn’t want to be embarrassed, I didn’t want people to feel bad for me, and I definitely didn’t want people to judge me. I thought my secret keeping was for my own sake. I also thought that it would help get them sober. I didn’t want them to feel bad. I didn’t want to add additional pain to their struggle. I realize now that it hurt me more. These secrets weighed me down and kept me from being able to function. I have shared before in previous posts that sharing these things with the wrong people was also harmful but not sharing anything at all was equally painful.

The lie wasn’t helping me. It certainly wasn’t helping them. It was feeding their addiction. Every time I covered for my mom, every time I protected my friends from being exposed to this, every time I pretended like things were fine I was nourishing the monster that is alcoholism. When my mom lost her job for drinking during work hours and passing out in her car, I told people she stopped working because she didn’t need to and we could afford for her to stay at home. When she missed family’s birthday parties, I would blame it on her being sick. When she would be missing for a few hours, I would tell her friends that she was sleeping. I was so good at lying and keeping these secrets to myself. We wouldn’t even need to talk about it because my mom knew I would take care of everything.

These secrets completely took away my mom’s motivation to get sober. Why should she? No one was going to find out, I was making sure of that. She didn’t have to apologize to anyone. She didn’t have to admit this embarrassing disease was controlling her life. She didn’t have to face any consequences. My secret keeping that I thought was for myself was doing more harm than good. Sure, I struggled with how people reacted when I shared with them. A lot of the time it was incredibly painful when people didn’t know how to respond or responded poorly. I don’t suggest opening up to every single person you meet but I also don’t recommend lying for the addict. It isn’t doing you or them any favors.

My family tried to make me feel really guilty when I stopped lying. I was embarrassing the family. My shaming her was going to trigger a relapse. The guilt she felt from others would make her want to drink more. BULL! My mom got so upset because she knew when I started being honest about what was going on, she would actually have some consequences. Honesty was her enemy and she still fights hard against me for being truthful. Luckily, with the strong support from my fellow ACOAs, my husband, and my friends, I know now though that lying for her and keeping all those secrets is for her the addiction’s gain.

Be honest with yourself and don’t lie for them. The only way we can break this stigma people have against addiction is to talk about it.

Thanks for reading! Subscribe if you would like to read more in the future. I have loved reading the feedback from all over the world and interacting with some of my readers. It is so nice to know we aren’t alone in this struggle.

-Grumpy Sunshine.

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Grumpy Sunshine

About me: Oh boy. The big thing here, my main focus, is that I am the adult child from an alcoholic home. My mother is a straight up, textbook, pain in the butt alcoholic. My dad drinks too much but probably wouldn’t be defined as an alcoholic. Enough about them. This is my about me. I love me. I learned to cope with my parent’s issues through my sense of humor. Sometimes I use it to distance myself, sometimes I use it because the situation really can be funny. I decided to start this blog because I can’t be the only person who appreciates humor in the darkest hours of our lives. And as a wise friend asked me today, why not invest in yourself? I hope you take something from these stories. It could be inspiration to address a family member’s problem, the strength to stand up for yourself, or even if it is just a laugh at my wonderfully awkward upbringing, I hope you get something out of this. My secret wish is that you find hope. Hope is hard to find and can be very dangerous when loving someone with addiction but, God, is it worse when you have none. Here’s hoping this helps someone.

6 thoughts on “Secrets, Addiction’s Best Friend”

  1. Wow. I don’t know what else to say! lol I will post more comments later on but I wanted to let you know that your words either sting me to the core or make me actually laugh out loud. All good. I look forward to your posts.

    One thing tho, about the lying. I became such a good liar that I would automatically like about almost anything. Even about going to the store when the truth was that I was just going to go for a drive. It was like a part of me could just escape reality for a while and no one knew where I actually was. I could not be disclosed. I still don’t like telling people what I’ve been doing but I don’t lie about it anymore. Instead I’ve become the queen of diversion tactics. But there’s something about being incognito (by lying) and “hiding out” that just feels so comforting .

    I guess I did have something to say after all! 🙂

    Peace and Love

    1. Thanks so much for reading! I loved your comment. It is nice to have boundaries with people so I get where you are coming from!

  2. As a child I thought that people could tell that my dad was a drunk. I thought everyone knew. I had the lowest self-esteem because of this. It wasn’t until I had graduated high school that I realized there were other classmates that had the same home life. I never knew! Yes, I kept secrets because I thought they already knew – the mind of a child.

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