by Kyle Beard on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Everyone who walks through our doors lives with a great fear in their lives. This fear influences their relationships, motivations, and self-esteem. The core of the fear is rooted in shame: will I be found out? Even deeper is the fear of: if you find out, will I still be loved and found worthy? Addicts create many ways to protect themselves from the truth of their addiction ever being discovered.
The addicted mind creates a fantasy world to live within. This fantasy world allows the addict to stay in denial of the uncomfortable realities of the real world, from hurts, pains, and uncomfortable truths. The fantasy world is one in which the addicted mind tries to protect at all costs, often pushing those closest to them away in order to keep the fantasy alive. The thought of those closest finding out the truth is a prospect the addict will not allow to happen. The addict begins to protect their fantasy world by living in lies and half truths to keep others at bay. This decision is often subconscious, occurring in the addicted mind without the addict ever realizing it.
The most prominent safeguard of the addicted mind is keeping friends and family – those who care the most – at a distance. Often, this looks like the addict telling them just enough information to keep them satisfied, but not the whole truth. As the addiction begins to grow deeper, the addict will find himself or herself avoiding social functions or even certain people, fearful they may ask probing questions. It takes effort to tell lies to protect oneself, and this avoidance of others becomes commonplace in the addict’s life. The priority becomes protecting the addiction, and this protection comes at a deep cost of connection.
Here is an example of this string of lies that may help put the pieces together. You tell your boss you are leaving work early for an appointment, but in reality you are leaving early to go act out (potentially with an affair partner or prostitute). Once you arrive home, your spouse asks why you were late. You respond that your boss asked you to stay late at the office. By the next day, you have forgotten what you told your spouse and your boss; you must come up with more lies in order to avoid rising suspicion. Over time, these lies add up, while constantly running this charade is exhausting. You begin to avoid your boss and spouse in order to avoid a litany of questions they might ask because you can’t remember who you told what, or where the lies began in the first place.
As you can see from this example, the addict begins to feel they are living two lives: the life they are truly living and the life portrayed to others. Guilt and shame begin to manifest deep within their soul, longing to live as themselves. You can remember the dreams you had as a child of what your adult life might look like, and the reality is too hard to bear. No addict is proud of living this way. The feelings of disappointment, discontentment, shame, and guilt, are difficult to process. After a period, the addict feels lost to a different way of living than in the cycle of their addiction.