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Is it Okay to Lie (Occasionally) in Recovery?

Is it Okay to Lie (Occasionally) in Recovery?

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 at Sanford House? 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?

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Comments (4)

  1. Avatar
    Mar 25, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    We are implementing a new EHR! EEEK!
    This is an interesting topic. I was raised to lie. At 11 when I would answer the phone “Hello, Helms residence, May I help you?” (yes, that is how I had to answer the phone at HOME) “This is Scott, Is your father available?” :”No sir, he is not in right now” (as Dad stands there waiting for the message left). As I got older I realized that my mom is a compulsive liar and my brother is a habitual liar. I have read a lot about this topic to understand them both better. I would be told to lie a lot of the time growing up and into adulthood. “Don’t tell your brother” was a constant refrain and I found that he would be told the same thing “Don’t tell your sister”. This caused distrust, even to this day. In my personal life I broke the cycle when I married. I have never lied to my husband, ever. I broke the cycle with my parents when I went into recovery. When they would tell me something and say “Don’t tell your brother” (this still happens), I tell them I will not offer him the information however, if he asks me a direct question, I will not lie. They are all now familiar with my change in behavior which has led to more stilted conversations. Regarding my relationship with my Mom, I just take everything with a grain of salt. We once had a lengthy conversation about her and my Dad being at my niece’s college graduation and their plane trip there, etc, how crowded it was, how hot it was, just to talk to her a week later and her tell me they didn’t go because my Dad had surgery and couldn’t travel. Yes, the lies are that egregious. So, No, I don’t think we should lie in recovery. Having the capacity to be honest is inherent in our sobriety and I cherish the freedom that being honest brings. I realized afterward how tainted I felt with each lie told..

    • Marilyn
      Mar 28, 2016

      Wow Lori. Sometimes the comments are far better than the blog post… It is true we get conditioned to lie. And in active addiction if we’re talking we’re lying. I feel the same way – that there is great freedom in truth. Thank you for this – it is beautifully written. What pray tell is an EHR – this thing that garners an EEEK? Oh wait an electronic health record? The law of unintended side effects????

      • Avatar
        Apr 9, 2016

        Yep, Electronic Health Record. I’m surprised Dr. V hasn’t joined our group after the last 2 weeks we have had! LOL

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