“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."
- Step 6 from the Al-Anon Family Groups
I recently caught someone, who I love, in a lie. It hurt.
Hurt wasn’t the first emotion to appear: anger was. Of course, anger does a really good job of masking hurt, when hurt feels the need to be protected.
I thought about how to confront the lie and how make the other person know how betrayal felt. I didn’t want to be the only one hurting.
Then, I took a different turn. I thought that maybe this wasn’t a lie at all. Perhaps the truth had been stated at the time, but now things had changed and there just hadn’t been an opportunity to follow up with the new truth. I gave the person the benefit of the doubt, and waited. Opportunities came and went and the topic wasn’t mentioned again to me.
I took it personally. I wondered if the reason that this important person in my life had lied was because they knew I wouldn’t take the truth well. They knew the truth would be difficult for me. They knew that I would be expressive about it outwardly, that my hurt would show, and then they’d have to deal with me.
I was in the swirl. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t know what to say. I only knew that I was really struggling.
This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with this sort of thing. Growing up in a family impacted by alcoholism, I was always trying to figure out what the truth was – how things were supposed to be. Sometimes I would make a discovery! I would declare the TRUTH! And, then I would be told that wasn’t, in fact, the truth. Why on Earth would I have even thought it was? What’s wrong with me for thinking that way?
I started to lose trust in myself and my perceptions.
One of the greatest gifts of family recovery has been reclaiming my truth. I’ve come to trust my instincts. I know my heart. I know my gut. I can connect to my truth so much more easily! But, sometimes I still get caught off guard.
In this particular situation, in the pain of the experience, I prayed. One of my favorite prayers is “I don’t know what to do.” followed by “Show me how.” So, I took a moment to pray just that. The immediate response I received was “Do you want to give your power to this?” I didn’t. I wanted to be present to the other lovely things that were happening around me.
So, I made a choice to set these feelings aside for that timeframe, until I could better process them. (Trust me when I tell you that I’m a big believer of feeling all of our feelings – but, some times are more appropriate than others. This was one of those instances.)
Of all of the character defects I have discovered while along this journey of being a family member in recovery, the most disruptive one in my life has been giving my power to other people. It manifests in feeling not important enough, unlovable, and difficult. It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong or that I should have known better. It makes me feel inadequate. It connects to a deep shame point that I have, and I go back and forth between feeling worthless and fighting with all of my might to prove my worthiness.
When someone lies to me, jumping out of the bushes and yelling “Aha! I caught you!” has never been productive to me. It’s never changed anything in a positive way. I have learned, however, that someone else’s lie is not about me. It’s about whatever they may be experiencing. I also know that each of us needs to learn about honesty on our own, in our own way. My own history of dishonesty-by-omission started to change when I had experienced enough pain from not living in integrity with myself. It was then that I became entirely ready for change – when I was finally honest with me.