04 December 2013
Lying to Myself
Honesty is such a big deal in this whole mess of pornography addiction. But for a really long time all "honesty" meant to me was that my husband was giving an accurate reporting of the facts. That was honesty.
As I have ventured into the realms of recovery, and dug up a little self-awareness, I've realized that honesty is more than just an accurate reporting of facts. Someone at group meeting once sharing some research she'd heard of about how many times a day we lie to ourselves. It was some ridiculous amount and I tried to Google it just now, but instead found this insightful quote.
"Often we lie to ourselves in order to preserve the face or self-image we want to maintain. We block out face-threatening messages, especially when they require backing down or changing our original position. Fear of embarrassment motivates many not to face reality, where we don't want to admit we goofed up, were selfish jerks, or lacked self-control. In short, we lie to ourselves to avoid an ugly truth. In confirmation, defense-mechanism researchers ... point out, self-deception is a mental process that operates unconsciously to reduce painful emotions."
At a therapy appointment recently I was talking about how I had made a decision (after thoughtful consideration and prayerful diligence) to share my story - and therefore indirectly Pete's story- with a family member. I told my therapist that before I decided it was the right thing to do I had carefully considered the fall-out. I convinced myself I would be okay (LIE) with whatever consequences came from my choice, but I really needed to do it.
Unfortunately, after I shared with the family member, I found myself on my therapist's couch pouring out my heart about how UNFAIR the consequences of my choice were. The most difficult consequence being Pete's absolute conviction that what I had done was wrong.
"I HAVE to make him agree with me about this." I sobbed. "We need to be united about it." I whined.
Gently he said to me
"But you said you were going to be okay with the fall-out of your choice."
Bracing himself for a fight, he responded
"But it kinda seems like you're not."
I started laughing.
"You totally just called me out?! So does this mean that I was wrong to do what I did because I am NOT in fact properly coping with the outcome?"
"No." He said. "Not at all. It just means you weren't honest with yourself."
In other words- if I had been totally honest with myself I could have said "This is going to be hard. It is going to be really painful to do something my husband doesn't agree with. We might never reconcile about this issue. I might need to see my therapist to help me cope with the fall-out of this choice. But it's the right thing to do. So I'll do it, knowing full well that I'm not as strong as I wish I was, and owning the consequences of my choice."
The truth is- self-awareness and personal honesty DO subject me to painful emotions. It's hard to acknowledge that I'm not what I want to be or where I want to be. But painful emotions are no longer the enemy. Self-deception is the enemy. Believing I am right, when I am wrong. Refusing to acknowledge my own inadequacy to protect an image. Deliberately ignoring relationships with people who know about my character defects. All of those things prevent me from really healing.
Because there is nothing wrong with being imperfect. There is nothing to be ashamed of about making a mistake. There is freedom in accepting that I don't always have to be right. What pressure I've put on myself! I've found it both painful and liberating to get out from beneath the lies I tell myself.