Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | November 2, 2010

The Lies We Tell

Last night my mom was sharing concern for someone struggling with sobriety, and said something to the effect of “We know this pattern, we’ve been there, they lie, you lied a lot.” Ok – I am not saying that was verbatim (sorry Mom!) But the general gist was that she has seen this before; struggling with substances, and lying to everyone around them. The reason she knows is because I was the one to introduce my parents to this. For some reason this hit me like a ton of bricks, and shame, and guilt. I KNOW my truth, but hearing the truth out loud is challenging, and for some reason felt like a stinger.

The truth hurts.

I have always faced my past; however my approach to recovery has always been pro-active, focused on what I can do now, what I am working towards, and how to approach the challenges in front of me. This has worked for me. Along the road I did apologize for my past. But how do you apologize when you can barely remember everything you have done?? Words only go so far, and I wanted to prove to my loved ones that I COULD and WOULD turn my life around. I was not a victim; I would decide to fight, to live. In one moment I decided “I have everything to lose and everything to gain.”

I don’t look back often, which is why writing my memoir has changed from a perspective of “in my eating disorder and substance abuse” to that of “my recovery story.” I for one think that is something not nearly shared enough.

I sit here with my birthday on Friday, and my sobriety/recovery 3 years next week. It has been an amazing journey, and while I ALWAYS say I am grateful for my struggles, because they have made me who I am, somewhere in my head I still have to remind myself to practice love and self acceptance, letting go of the past. When these flurries of guilt fly into my eyesight, I can choose to watch them pass, see everything I am grateful for, everything I have worked for, and know I am not defined by my past.

I feel in order to know myself, and for others to know who I am, I am like an onion, peeling back truths layer by layer. Perhaps now, nearly 3 years into recovery, it is at a safe place to address some of the lies.

“We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” Tad Williams

Lies are on several layers, the lies we tell others, the lies we tell ourselves and the lies the disorder/should monster says. I consider my word very important. My word is everything I am. I try to practice honesty, transparency in everything I do. When I look back to those darker days, I don’t even recognize that person who lied. I know I was lying to myself. I just didn’t see anything clearly. I saw immediate gratification over long-term consequences, a common theme for many who struggle.

I honestly never felt, even being a writer, that words could express the amount of my understanding of what I put everyone through. I know I could easier say “it was the alcohol talking” or “this or that is causing me not to want to eat all day and binge drink to de-stress.” But I believe choices are an element of any struggle. I knew what I had to do for a LONG while. I knew the tools, having gone to IOP for six months. I just didn’t want to stop. And while drinking, I would have moments where I fell apart and wanted recovery but didn’t know how. The struggles we face are dynamic, I often feel conflicting thoughts, emotions, and have to remember to not over analyze myself. For me, it is good to just listen to the Universe, sit in quietness, breathing, and let things pass by.

In the end, I guess I haven’t completely forgiven myself for my lies, the hurt I caused, and the lies I told myself and others, whether through my words or actions.

I accept this for now. I have recognized it, and will reflect and let go. I may have hiccups of flashbacks (which I still get a lot), I may feel guilty for past decisions, but I know it is my decisions today that matter. At any part in our day we can CHOOSE to turn it around, or re-guide ourselves. We can pick up and move forward. We can use our tools, reach out to support systems, make a recovery tool box, and question if what we are doing is in alignment with who we are.

I learned how to communicate my truth through all my therapy, IOP, etc. I learned to communicate with my parents, and while that didn’t go well, it was a start towards the relationship we have now. I knew from the beginning of my recovery, in order to stay true and future focused, I would have to be accountable and responsible for my actions. So I started telling everyone who supported me when I struggled. I used my voice, to share my truth. I had hidden, lied, and done too much, so I knew I needed to explain everything, even if people didn’t understand. It wasn’t about being understood, it was about being heard.

The lies, the disorder, the substance, all grow in secrecy. In hiding. No matter where you are in your struggle, or in recovery, remember – you are never alone. The lies of the past do not have to be your future. You can take small steps towards your goal. I know the people around me have forgiven me, and yes, sometimes I wish I could have a blank slate on some of the old memories, but I am who I am. I am not the liar, the problem in the family. That itself is amazing. To go from where I was, to who I am now, being admired, respected and trusted was something I never thought would happen, at least at first. That changed once I embraced recovery.  I fought for my life, and that is what it felt like a lot. I slipped, fell, and face planted many time, but kept moving forward. To get lost in our struggles is hard, but when you are struggling, and lying, reach out to someone, tell your truth, use your voice. With practice, using your voice gets easier.

A few closing thoughts:

  • You are not defined by your struggles
  • Your life, health (body, mind and spirit) MATTER, YOU matter
  • Try not to compare your recovery to another, everyone is different
  • Find people who inspire you to be pro-active, positive and supportive in your journey
  • Self forgiveness comes slowly, in its own timing, and that is OK
  • Our actions today help us reach our goal, we are empowered by our choices
  • Never be afraid to live your truth, use your voice, and fight for your dreams, goals, and health
  • There is hope in recovery, and even if you are faced with your past lies, you are not the lies. ED lies, and sometimes we lie to ourselves, and others, but you can move past that and move forward, one step at a time


  1. Almost everything you wrote here, is something I can relate to. I’m glad to see this side of the story online, instead of only the ones of persons not-yet-in-recovery, or unsuccesfully trying.

    By writing, I think you can inspire people to continue to fight or start fighting.

    What I learned from your story is: All the hard work I (and you, as well) have done, was all worth it. And perhaps the most important thing is not that we are a lot better than we were before, but that we made the journey. We’ve been through this, and we survived.

    That’s something to be very proud of.

    Keep on writing, I like to read more from you 🙂


    • Thank you Samantha for reading and for leaving that lovely comment. I am glad you could relate and got hope from the other side 🙂

  2. This is beautifully honest. I can relate so much. I’m still working on building up trust with my family again. The lies I have told, those that I remember, still haunt me. Thanks for the reminder to focus on today and it’s decisions/truth.

    • Thank you Jenn 🙂 xoxo

  3. I have always believed that there is no better way to “atone” for the harm caused by {eating disorders, substance abuse, gambling addiction, insert anything here}, than to simply be the best person you can be in the present moment. That’s all you can offer. Thanks for sharing this. It’s difficult to acknowledge some of the hurt that these issues cause. I’m also very excited to read your memoir one day! I’m so happy that it focuses on your journey of recovery.

    • Thank you very much! I didn’t really think about how “healthy” my pro-active attitude was in my recovery. I just did what I do – found inner courage to face it and move forward. 🙂

  4. Ur story is strong and true, I am in the madness of sobriety and you give me hope. Thank you x

    • Thank you for reading and sharing. There is always hope. One day at a time 🙂

  5. I’m inspired by the balance you seem to have struck between recognizing the past/facing its realities and focusing on moving forward and making a change TODAY. It’s all too easy to go to one of the extremes – ignoring the past totally or being completely unable to forget it. But there is peace somewhere in the middle.

    • Thank you so much Katie!! Awesome comment and amazing to re-read my own post and see what you mean about balance. In writing I often don’t see how balanced I am, and have to re read a few times to see the bigger picture 🙂 So thank you!

  6. you are in inspiration! thank you for being so honest, it will be a help to so many struggling.

  7. Such a beautiful, raw, and honest post. Congratulations on your journey. Also, have you read Meredith Maran’s most recent memoir, “MY LIE”? It’s powerful.

    • I have not read it! Will look into it. Thank you for your kind words 🙂

  8. Kendra, this post is so amazing and brave. I REALLY appreciated it, and think that you raise so many points that we do not discuss enough when we are considering addiction, lying, and adolescent creation of self. THANK YOU.

    • Thank you hun! I really really appreciate your comment. xoxo

  9. Congratulations on your 3 yrs. A great post on the lying we do in our disease. My biggest dishonesty was around what I didn’t say rather than what I did say. It took me a long time to realise that was also lying.


    • Thank you Alison! It is amazing how many forms there are in lying. I honestly think within the struggle I didn’t understand how much it affected everyone else, it is only now on the side of recovery I am able to fully grasp th past in a different light. And keep moving forward 🙂

      • It is often easy to see how we affect other people when we use drink or drugs but with food the damage can be much more subtle. I’ve learned over time that the damage I did to my kids was around being so inconsistant with food. One minute I was in diet mode and everything was forbidden. The next I was bingeing on massive amounts of chocolate. By the end my bingeing was 24hrs around the clock from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep (and I got up alot during the night to binge). I honestly thought my kids hadn’t noticed until my oldest son said one day “I did wonder why you ate frozen muffins” to which I replied in all seriousness “because I couldn’t wait the 10 secs to defrost it in the microwave!” Of course I could only say that when I was in recovery because I would have felt so humiliated at being caught when I was in my addiction. I’ve laughed so much about some of the things I’ve done but they really weren’t funny at the time.

  10. OMG I laugh at myself ALL the time! I think I was so hidden with the food – honestly parents had no idea until I told them, but that made it harder for them to see, especially when they could SEE me drunk. I do however laugh all the time at the weird things and stuff I have said and done. I am thankful for humor in recovery 🙂

  11. It’s funny as my experience in the food and then in recovery really helps me with recovery friends and clients. I’m able to say things like ” and make sure you don’t start doing …..” they laugh and say how on earth did you know. Well it takes one to know one! I know all the tricks in the trade as I’ve been there and done it all too. When I started out in recovery with my therapist I found it so easy to hide what I was doing because she didn’t have experience herself …. you can’t hide when someone knows all the tricks.

    I love being able to help people into recovery and share my experience. I took mine to a pretty low rock bottom but thankfully survived it and wouldn’t trade the recovery I have today.

  12. […] Voice in Recovery, The Lies We Tell […]

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