Really Grates On Me

If you’ve ever mingled in recovery circles, and AA in particular, you’ll be more than familiar with the view that addicts are dishonest, manipulative and sneaky. What’s your view? Here’s mine:

When it comes to active addiction – yes, absolutely. Or “obvs”, as Bambino would so eloquently put it. Of course we have to hustle our asses off to hide and maintain our addiction, which when we’re in active addiction is what mercilessly rules us and dictates our every move. With an addict who is in active addiction, the answer to questions such as “how much have you had?“, “when did you last use/drink?” or indeed “are you battling addiction?” will likely be lies. Obvs.

The problem I have, is that I just don’t believe these shitty traits are inherent or natural qualities in the person who is an addict. Recovering addicts tend to be the most open and honest people I know, as well as the hardest working and least manipulative. Rarely do I meet people – or know people – working harder at being straight arrows. To me, there is a huge difference and for that reason it really grates on me when people say “oh, but us addicts always lie“. Do we? I don’t. Nor do the vast majority of recovering addicts I know.

This was on my mind today off the back of a comment that was made at work. There was a difference of opinion as to whether someone had been promised something, and whether that person was right to feel short changed. Without any fact finding or even considering the circumstances, someone said:

Come on – between [so-and-so] and an addict, I’m not going to believe the addict, am I?

Whoa! That made my blood boil! The matter at hand had nothing to do with addiction, it was something else entirely, but the assumption was that an addict always lies about everything. Am I crazy or is this outrageous? Chin-on-the-floor moment for Yours Truly.

Yes, I was dishonest in how I hid how much I drank. Yes, I manipulated my entire life to fit around drinking. Yes, I was sneaky in how I controlled everything in order to ensure maximum drinking time and space. But am I a dishonest, manipulative and sneaky person PER SE? Hell no. I won’t even cross the fucking road unless there’s a little green man telling me I can do so. I’m the sort of person who holds her hands up when she’s fucked up and if I were to find money that doesn’t belong to me I’d make a concerted effort to take all steps to ensure they’d be returned to their owner. You’d catch me getting a tarantula for a pet before you catch me tell a lie. It’s not who I am, it’s not the real Anna and the Anna here today IS the real Anna. In recovery we recover who we truly are.

Personally, I believe I was a prime candidate for addiction for tonnes of reasons, but the two biggest are that 1) I’m a highly sensitive person, and 2) I carry unresolved emotional pain with me from my childhood. What I can tell you in no uncertain terms is that I didn’t turn out to be addict because I’m somehow inherently dishonest or any of that bullshit. Oh gosh, you can tell I’m angry about this, can’t you? I just believe that those crappy qualities spring from the slavery of addiction and not the person itself. If you take an extreme example of what addiction forces people to do, it’d be to think of someone who sells their body to fund their habit. For me it’s the same thing – not that this is who they are as a person or something they “just do”, but something they are forced to do because they are in active addiction.

Instead of further going into how I see it, let me instead get on to what I actually wanted: ask you guys. How do you see it? Personal views, gut instincts, perspectives or cold, hard facts if you have any of those lying around – hit me up! I’m so keen to know if I’ve really got the wrong end of the stick here, which is entirely possible but I want to learn and understand so please argue your point – even if I stubbornly argue mine, I am genuinely open to changing my mind. If you think I’m wrong, tell me! If you think I’m failing to see it from the right perspective, tell me! I’m so keen to hear your views on this.

Today I’m not going to drink.

17 thoughts on “Really Grates On Me

  1. I can only ever talk about myself but when I was drinking the biggest lie was the one I was living myself, but I was sneaky like you said in how I went about things e.g. hiding the extent of my drinking. Now I am sober I am a strong believer in being honest and open with people. But how open varies because you have to earn the level of trust with me for me to escalate up the levels of how much I will share. As I typed I thought of something I am not being totally honest about and that is to my family with the level of debt I got myself into on my last round of drinking. Is it dishonest to protect people from things that you don’t want them to fix, don’t want them to fix and that you know would cause them stress they simply don’t deserve? I am very open on here but that is because most of you don’t know the real me and I have protected that so if any of the people I talk about ever stumble across my blog it’s not going to create a shit storm, is that dishonest? XOX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh and another thought, I do feel that there is a stigma attached to addicts and they are seen as people to be weary of in the employment sector. If you have 2 people with the same qualifications and everything else but one openly tells you they are an alcoholic (but a sober one) which would you hire?

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  2. That statement would have made my blood boil, too! Or certainly, I’d have been shocked. My bias is that recovering addicts are among the most honest of people.

    That said, now that you’ve got me thinking about it, a lot of people who have not gone through the recovery process themselves are not aware of the levels of deep honesty it entails, and and how much internal work it is. So I guess this might explain their assumption.

    Also, they may not be aware that some of the most engaging and honest thought leaders (e.g. Brené Brown) are even in recovery, so they may have few positive sobriety role models to include in their definition of “addict.”

    Seems odd though, in your line of work, and also very unfortunate for the clients! At least they have you. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I try to avoid generalizations at all costs. I think it’s impossible to group people together based on any one trait. I worry that someone with such a bias is working with the population they are biased against. That’s like putting Trump in charge of the Mexican Heritage Center.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Your work colleague was talking stuff and nonsense. Our friend Katie would refer to it as poppycock. Addiction is an illness, a disease, not a personality trait. Some of tend most dishonest, immoral people I’ve ever met have been within the setting of a church. So called ‘Christians.’ If Jesus walked the earth today he would be hanging out with the addicts, the broken, the destitute. We need to reach our and help these people, not pull away, sneer and judge them. Here endeth the sermon my sober friend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think the person who said it is in minority – I vented to one of the lovely therapists and she was aghast too, agreeing it was a very ill advised comment. Phew. I honestly didn’t know if I got wound up because I’m an addict and took it personally (but there was probably a lot of that too!) or if he was way off the mark! Thanks as always for your input. 😘👍

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve met many people in recovery who are the most honest people I’ve ever known. It’s like they’re making up for all the time they lied and they’re not prepared to lie anymore. I once met a girl on a train, quite randomly (I do love to talk to strangers tho) who told me her whole life history, from childhood to the present in the space of a few hours. Anyone who’s in recovery from whatever they were addicted to, SHOULD be proud of themselves, they have no reason to lie anymore, so they don’t.

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  6. I would say that we were lying only to ourselves when we were addicted to alcohol or whatever it was. I have no experience with group gatherings of “recovery” except here in the blog-sphere and the honesty, openness and sharing among the community is uplifting and hopeful. The decision to stop drinking and then to continue to not drink is a courageous act. It makes life brighter and more raw. I am so pleased I stopped. The curtains are open and the light is blinding at times but I am adjusting gladly to this new life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with you. No addicts are not inherently dishonest. That’s actually ludicrous! Active addiction is a slippery slope and yes we do lie to ourselves and others to keep drinking or using. This is totally different to my true nature where I’m usually very honest and open.

    Liked by 1 person

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