Secrets Make You Sick
To keep an addiction secret requires skill and hard work. If you weren’t an expert liar to start, you learned to become one as it went on. And all this deceit – the deception, the stealing, cheating, manipulation, and whatever else – you learned to swallow. And swallowing secrets hurts – it hurts your brain. Literally.
The parts of your brain that are essential to your emotional responses, the cingulate and prefrontal cortexes, are wired to tell the truth. Scans of the brain show that when you lie, the brain works harder. The more complicated the lie, the harder it works.1 Also, lying takes more time – 30 percent more time than telling the truth.2
Lying is also stressful. It causes the release of cortisol AKA the stress hormone, a product of the adrenal glands. Cortisol contributes to high blood pressure, acne, sleep disorders, fertility problems, weight gain, and others. Cortisol has been called “Public Enemy No. 1.”3
Your Secret May Not Be Much of a Secret
Your secrets, and your secret life, probably haven’t escaped the notice of your significant other. Chances are, they’re already onto you. And if they aren’t yet they will be.
One way or the other you reveal yourself, either physically – bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, the loss or gaining of weight, the smells you give off, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and tremors – or behaviorally – in your lies, broken promises, abusiveness, manipulations, shifting of the blame, untimeliness, and legal troubles. Those close to you will see your behavior as confusing, frustrating, scary and/or sad. Those who know you will see that you have changed.
The Questions Partners of Addicts Will Ask Themselves:
- If they really love me, why won’t they stop using?
- Can’t they see the effect their addiction is having on our relationship?
- Are they stealing from me?
- Are they cheating on me?
- Where do they go when they go out?
- How can I believe anything they say?
- How can I go on living like this?
Some Secrets You Keep, Others Will Kill You
An old African proverb says All truth is good but not all truth is good to hear. It may be that not all truths need to be shared, you’ll have to leave that up to your best discretion. Your heart of hearts may be the best judge on that.
But some secrets can be deadly. Where do you draw the line?
To start, any secret that enables you to continue your addiction or continue to harm yourself or others in any way needs to go. This includes secrets that provide cover for all sorts of addictive behaviors, not just drugs and alcohol but also food, gambling, sex, shopping as well as the collateral damage these behaviors cause like overspending, crime, infidelities and misdeeds against romantic partners, business associates, friends and family, etc.
By sharing your enabling secrets with the right person, you make it more difficult to hide your destructive behavior. This is an important step toward recovery. Some secrets can be thornier: Is it always best to confess infidelity? That may depend. Is the potential hurt worth the nursing of your guilty conscience? Relationships are complex and nuanced and should be considered on an individual basis.
The Coming Out
For those coming out as an addict, there are a few ways it can go: Telling your loved one you have a drug or alcohol problem could be a moment that brings you closer together – you are sharing your most authentic self. Or, it can release a history of resentments, lies, and betrayals. Those that love and care for you may feel that they’ve failed you: Why weren’t they enough to keep you from your substance abuse? Was there something they could’ve done to stop you?
Gaining the trust and forgiveness of a hurt loved one won’t come easily. You’ll have to work for it. It’s been said that healing is as ugly as “healed” is gorgeous. Healing, even more than lying, is hard and painful. But, it’s the only way forward. And as you go forward, not everyone will go with you. You may lose some relationships on the way. Changes will be made.
How to Do It
- Be honest and vulnerable. And this is important: Be calm. There will be feelings – complicated and raw feelings – from the loved ones in your life that you may’ve not faced in a long time. Confronting them will be uncomfortable, perhaps extremely so. Try to understand their reactions and don’t escalate. As an addict, your actions hurt people. You are now going to take responsibility for that. This is a very good thing.
- You will need help. And, you will need to ask for it. No one can make this kind of change without support from somewhere. If this support is not from your significant other, family, or friends (some may’ve been lost along the way), then you’ll have to find it elsewhere. Don’t despair, help is out there. There are groups and meetings, treatment centers, programs – something out there will be right for you.
- Prepare yourself for what lies ahead. The changes will be challenging. This includes changes in your relationships as well as your body. You’re going to have withdrawal pains. How long they go on will depend on your substances of choice and how long you used. The physical pain triggers other emotional, psychological, and mental challenges. The pain, and damage, of continued substance abuse is far worse.
- Believe in yourself. This new mental state, removed of the fog of addiction, will reveal embarrassments, even shame. You must feel this because you are a person that feels now. You are active in your life now, no longer passive. You are not hiding, you are fighting. You are not the person you used to be. Remember this: When the temptation to use comes – and no doubt it will – you will need this fight. This is when you will need support the most.
There will be falls and slips and at times it will feel overwhelming but this is life and you are ready. You’ve come a long way – don’t forget that.
Facing What Comes
No matter how sincere you are, no matter what you believe, you may encounter skepticism. Your loved one has probably heard all of this before: Why is it different this time? It will only be different by the proof of your actions. Your loved one’s defensiveness comes from experience. They have earned the right to be skeptical and angry, you may not win them over in a day. But still, be resolute in your goals.
And above all, now that you’ve opened an honest communication, keep it going. Protect it and honor it and work hard to repair the damage done. You are in a process and it may take time for people to come around.
Now more than ever, believe you can do it.
If you or a loved one feels a need to overcome an addiction, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout Southern California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.