Addicts lie because of the shame. But there’s another reason for all the sneaking around.
Mood music for this post: John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey,” as covered by Cheap Trick:
My boredom-induced brush with bad behavior Saturday night led to a conversation with Erin about the things I used to do when I was deep in the haze of my binge-eating addiction. She knows I lied a lot back then. I was a world-class sneak. Some of what I did still shocks her today.
She knew back then that I was spending a lot of money on junk and then trying to cover my tracks. She often found the empty fast-food bags under the seats in my car. Guilt bags, she called them.
Yesterday, during a conversation about something completely different — a friend’s enjoyment of chocolate — more of my past leaked out. The friend told Erin that he likes Kit-Kat and Hershey chocolate bars. This didn’t fit with her idea of good chocolate. She’s more of a Godiva Chocolate fan. It’s like me being a Starbucks snob and teasing those who settle for Dunkin Donuts and Maxwell House.
“I used to like Kit-Kats,” I said. “I used to like lots of ’em at one sitting.”
Then I mentioned how I would stop at gas stations and buy a pile of them to shove down my throat on the ride home. That’s when she said she still can’t believe what I used to do. It still makes her squirm a little bit.
If she knew EXACTLY what I was doing back then, she said, it would have been very hard to take, because while she was aware of the shame factor, before all my treatment she just didn’t have the ability to understand the mind of an addict.
The comment is worth mentioning here, because it sums up another layer of the liar’s disease. Shame was the biggest part of it for me. But there was also the other part: People just don’t understand.
Recovering addicts understand. But the more “normal” among us simply don’t have the ability to grasp how our brains are wired.
That’s not a criticism. Deep-rooted stupidity is hard for smart people to swallow. Not that addiction is about being smart or stupid.
The worst addicts include some of the smartest people on Earth. But in the grip of the crazies, we become capable of grand acts of buffoonery.
The good news is that I’m deep in recovery today and I’m grateful as hell.
And if my openness can help a few people understand, it was almost worth going through it.