By John W.

It was difficult for me to see how that small untruth was hurting anyone, it was just helping me to keep peace around the homestead. The lie was after all only allowing me to enjoy a small repayment for why I was working so hard in the first place. I had seen “Dallas” as a kid growing up, the stars always had a drink in their hands. They would walk into a room and the first thing they did was go to a fancy looking table, get a nice looking crystal glass and put some brandy in it. Then they would talk of all manner of life and problems and solutions, always it seemed with a drink in hand. I figured if it was good enough for the stars on TV, it certainly would do me no harm.

So as a young married man, starting a family, when the question was posed: “Did you stop for a drink on the way home?” I always told just a little white lie, responding wholeheartedly: “No.”

Like Dover’s White Cliffs eroding over time, I was losing my Integrity little by little and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not stop the conduct which necessitated the lie, despite my best efforts to try. I had already learned the hard way that the trouble that came with my drinking lessons kept me locked in my hidden past. That’s why these little falsehoods were harmless. I could take a gentleman’s pleasure after a hard day at the office before returning to the home that hard work sustained. It was just another of life’s delicate ecosystems, one activity bolstered another, was sustained by a third, so that a fourth could persist, and so on, and so on.

But the erosion of my soul was occurring, just like those White Cliffs. The first time the Truth intervened, at that couple’s session with the ill-fated marriage counsel, when I volunteered out of the blue that I drank the way I did because I was an alcoholic, that was quite a show stopper.  Almost two decades later I still don’t know from where that nugget of Truth emerged. But the admission was a game changer, no doubt about it. It did not save the marriage and has not yet patched things up with the children, but it unlocked a Truth that had been hidden until that moment by the blanket of my denial for all of my waking life until then. So too it was the first time I admitted I was a Newcomer to the 7:00 am group I had been attending for months, each morning still bent from the night before. The lie not told, the lie of omission, had been just as damaging to my Integrity, as I was later to learn. After I embraced sobriety, I found that not only had these lies taken their toll, but the marks they had left on me became the signposts on the path I was to follow to become the man I always wanted to be, they were the signposts on my road called “Change.”

I had to be searching and fearless with my inventory, and my Decision had given me the courage to accomplish that. But then I had to “admit” this inventory. First an admission to my Higher Power, who I could not see any way, so that was no big whoop. Then to myself, but I had penned the inventory, so no surprises there. But the admission to another human being, this was raising the bar quite high indeed. I had to be honest with this guy, my sponsor it turned out, face to face, about everything. As if it was necessary to underscore the value and need for this, I heard the horror stories about how those who did not employ Integrity in this admission, that often a drink, a slip, was their dubious reward and for me, to drink was to die.

So here it was, put out all my cards face up, no tricks, nothing up my sleeve, nothing, nothing at all, held back. Otherwise, be prepared to pack it in and let my disease do what it wanted to do, take everything from me until I had nothing more to give, then take my last breath too. As I had lost my Integrity, one white lie at a time, so too I gained it back by the daily halting of that practice. Although it had been daunting and difficult, that first Fifth Step (there have been others over the years) gave me the tool I needed to speak the Truth.  As the challenges have come since, that tool of Integrity has been often used and it has served me well. I learned in its use, that it was the Willingness to try that put my Integrity into the space it needed to do its work, a space the Courage I had found in taking my inventory had made for that very purpose.  

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