Facing the Truth: An Excerpt from The Addict Magnet

You don’t need to look very far to find someone who struggles with addiction or is affected by addictive behavior within his or her family. I don’t necessarily mean smoking crack, either. Addictions are so varied – alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, shopping, gambling, porn, food abuse – but all are devastating in family relationships.

Several years ago, I wrote a book titled, “The Addict Magnet.” My experience in relationships with addicts and of being addicted myself to another person led me into a period of great learning, great transformation, and a new calling. Since my entry into Divinity School, I have spoken freely about my desire to minister to families who deal with addiction. As a sort of experiment, I’d like to share an excerpt – portions of Chapter 5 – from “The Addict Magnet.” Of course, the intended audience for this book is people who are what used to be labeled “codependent” personalities or else relationship addicts. Codependent isn’t always a favored term any more, but the behaviors are still predictable and recognizable. If any of these concepts resonate with you and if you feel inclined, please leave a comment. Peace, *Sandy

5 Facing the Truth

For those of us who have become experts at denial, one of the hardest things to do is to face and embrace the truth.

We may know the truth about our partner and what he or she may be doing but we adequately justify behavior that we do not condone or tell ourselves that it is not as bad as we are making it out to be. We may also know the truth about ourselves and never stand up for ourselves or say what we really think or feel. If you are ever to be able to find peace within yourself and stop yourself from compulsive behaviors that would attempt to regulate other people, then you must face and embrace the truth.
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Facing and embracing truth also means being willing to confront those who would attempt to deceive you or deny the truth when you have evidence to the contrary. Along with that confrontation must come the willingness to watch that person walk away or leave altogether. Liars are never comfortable with being presented evidence of their deception and their most likely reactions will be flight and counter-accusations. Do not back down when you know the truth. Do not be deceived by someone who seeks not only to deceive you but who is also grossly deceived him- or her-self. Most of all, do not fall for your own deceptive denial. Those of us who tend to lie to ourselves are most vulnerable to the lies of others. We teach ourselves to believe what we want to believe rather than what is true. Others who see that tendency in us find it easy to lie to us knowing that we will believe the thing that makes the best outward presentation.

When standing up for truth leaves you in a position of being left alone, there is little to comfort you without an understanding of how God works. Without a strong personal spiritual life and without friends and family who also believe in God’s ability to transform us through difficult times, it is easy at this point to dismantle your newly constructed boundaries. It is easy because there is great pain associated with the separation from or loss of a spouse or mate. And we have learned that, in order to reduce or remove the pain of separation or rejection, we must tolerate whatever our partner dishes out in order to just keep them around. Our greatest fear may be alone-ness.
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Do not collapse when threatened with abandonment. Stand firm. Stand with God and with those who love you. Use the time when you are left standing on truth or principle to focus on developing yourself in areas you have neglected. You, with or without your spouse or mate, have special gifts and talents that are to be used to connect you with others to the glory of the One who created you. Give of yourself in healthy ways to people or organizations that need a helping hand. Give to yourself the gift of acceptance and worth. This transformation in you will change all your relationships from this point forward.

The high cost of doing nothing

My cell phone number isn’t the easiest number to remember. The digits are about as random as they can be. I’m not sure what makes a number “good” for spamming, but apparently mine is pretty good. A couple of months ago, my bill was higher than normal, but I assumed I had either used too much data or too many airtime minutes. It was around the time of my daughter’s wedding, so the phone was certainly used more than normal during that month. Upon looking at the bill more closely, I saw the charge was for some sort of “Trivia Texting” that I had never ordered.

When the texts came in, I just ignored them, much like spam email. After receiving another spam text from a different source, I called customer service to request help in making sure I wasn’t billed fraudulently again. Turns out, to avoid the charges, I needed to do something: text a reply that stated simply “stop.”

I’m not sure where I learned the art of ignoring things that I wanted to go away, but I learned it at a young age and used it for most of my life. In my mind, it is counter-intuitive that something might end up costing me if I ignore it. In my experience, however, I have learned that the things we ignore can end up costing us … a lot. Perhaps it is a misguided interpretation of how to trust in and wait on God. Trusting in God shouldn’t imply doing nothing. Instead, trusting in God implies relying on Him to guide us in our decisions and moves. I can see in some instances of my life that my decision to ignore things was based more on fear that I would make a bad choice or face a challenge bigger than I could handle than on my belief that God would work it all out. My lack of action has many times been a sign of being paralyzed by fear instead of a motivation to stand in my faith.

Even now, I face a need to act on something I’d rather ignore. I know, however, that it won’t go away just because I don’t deal with it. Kind of like Trivia Texting, the charges will continue to accrue until I send the “stop” text. Are you afraid to do something you know you have to do? These moments really are tests of our faith. The presence of fear doesn’t necessarily mean we have little or no faith. Our faith activates when we DO what we know we should do even WHILE feeling afraid or unhappy about doing it.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)