Is it Okay to Lie (Occasionally) in Recovery?


It’s Good Friday, and I try to be very honest these days. In fact there are some who say I am brutally honest – telling things that are best left unsaid or swept under a rug. Speaking of which, I have, not once, but twice, taken a sip of my early morning coffee, deep into something at work, and distractedly set the cup back down in midair. The coffee falls with a jolt, the entire contents sprays like an episode of CSI onto my hand knotted rug and I stare at it, willing it undone until my natural inclination kicks in.


Brutal honesty aside, I am so used to the years of lying it is my immediate fallback, unless like the coffee/rug deal, there is no one else to blame. The first time I spilled, I poured a case of gassy water (kindly available because I like it) all over the mess, blotted it with paper towels and turned the stain into a sort of thin gruel. I had to confess, and David arrived with a Spot Bot (get one today) and a sippy-cup.The second time I considered opening the window, leaving before anyone else arrived and calling in sick, as if a gust of force majeure had upturned an old cup of java from the day before…

Why Do We Lie?

Easy – I  want to lie any time I think I’m going to “get in trouble”. Isn’t that crazy? What are they going to do ? Fire me for spilling coffee? As far as I can fathom, here’s why people lie (that rhymes):

  • Fear of repercussion
  • Embarrassment
  • Shame
  • Avoidance of confrontation
  • Self Aggrandizement
  • Kindness (as in answering the age old question: “Do these jeans make my ass look flat?”

Is it Ever Okay for Someone in Recovery to Lie?

I’m not a therapist. I am however,a liar from way back. Lies are not omission. I believe in omission when it is not designed to save your own skin (like throwing a coat over the coffee stain and hoping no one comes into your office ever again).

Lies are when someone asks you directly, “Where were you?” and you say, “The Mall,” when you were really in the parking lot of the liquor store, because “you don’t want them to worry.” I think those of us in recovery, should work on telling the truth. Every time. And fessing up when we make huge mistakes. Every time. It’s a practice that doesn’t allow for the little white lies to snowball into the big lie.

And yes, your ass does look a bit flat in those pants, but I like what you’ve done with your hair…

Today I’m not drinking because I want to be able to tell the truth (except if I spill coffee again I am going to just walk out quietly and move…)

How come you’re not drinking?