Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservation—AA Slogan
At the core of alcoholism and drug addiction is false belief. As alcoholics, we see the world from a distorted perspective, which permits us to deny truth routinely, sometimes daily. According to our self-deception, we are right; others are wrong. We see things clearly; others do not. There is nothing wrong with us, it’s them; they are to blame. It’s always them; it’s never us.
When confronted by our behavior, which is often unacceptable and self-defeating, we deflect. From our viewpoint, what we did wasn’t that bad. We were drunk and didn’t know what we were doing. Everybody does things like that—not just us. “No biggie,” is our motto, regardless of whom we have hurt.
If we cannot get away with our deflections, which happens often, we project. We say that it wasn’t our fault; our wives drove us to it. If not our wives, then our bosses, our children, our lot in life—which wasn’t fair—or our upbringing. They are the ones responsible for how we turned out—not us. In fact, projecting the problems of our poor upbringing becomes our universal copout. If we only had had a loving father and a nurturing mother, we would have turned out differently, but we didn’t. So, our behavior becomes their problem and not ours—even if they have been dead for many years. Nothing is ever our fault; it’s always somebody else’s.
We become extremely skilled at passing the buck to those we hold accountable for our situation. This is how we live, by blaming others, never ourselves. As George Costanza once put it on Seinfeld, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” While this may be funny, it isn’t true. Self-deception is never reality, regardless of how steadfastly we maintain that it is.
In our cultural belief system, truth may be relative but, in our Christian belief system, it isn’t. In therapy, patients talk about “my truth” all of the time, which is nothing more than their perception of reality. Embracing “your truth” usually does nothing more than validate your self-deception, making it more difficult to see reality accurately.
All of this is why God is the vital, independent variable in recovery. To become sober, rigorous honesty is demanded—not just the reaffirmation of your alcoholic self-deception. You can’t become sober by embracing the same old lies. You must “get honest”—not just with yourself but also with others.
The obvious question then becomes, to whom “specifically” must you become honest? The answer is to yourself, to God, and to another human being. It’s a simple answer, but it’s not easy to achieve. If you want to get honest, and are willing to do anything to rid yourself of self-deception, join me in the following prayer:
For years, I have pursed a willful path
One that I demanded for myself,
Doing as I pleased, regardless of the impact
By behavior had on myself or on others.
I determined to “Do it my way,” and no other way.
But now, as I look back on the fruit
That I have produced from my waywardness,
From my years of drinking and drugging,
I don’t like what I see; I don’t like it at all.
In my foolishness, I have become the one thing
I promised myself to never be—a liar.
I have deceived others about my drinking so often
That it has difficult to know what is true.
Even worse, I have deceived myself,
Excusing and justifying that which is inexcusable.
Father, I cannot go on like this.
My life is empty and devoid of fruitfulness.
As I look to the future, I see heartache and despair.
But that’s not what I want for my life.
Having been so wayward, it’s all I know,
But it’s not all there is. You can change my future.
You can change my heart and my desires.
Do it now, Father. Change me at the core of my being,
And implant a heart that desires to do Your will.
Walk with me for all the time I have left,
So that I may honor Your name and be a blessing to others,
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit—Proverbs 14:8