If you’re in a relationship with an alcoholic or substance abuser, odds are your trust has been broken (probably multiple times) in the past.
He had to work late and wouldn’t be home for dinner. So, my three children and I sat around the table and ate lasagna and salad without him. When my blonde-haired, blue-eyed six-year-old son asked where daddy was, I told him that he was still working.
The words coming out of my mouth sounded truthful, but my gut knew they were lies.
I had been lied to so many times by the man I was madly in love with that I almost came to expect it.
The truth was I didn’t know where my loved one was while we sat waiting for him at home. And if I was being honest with myself – I didn’t really want to know.
The truth hurt too much. So I settled for the lie and we both pretended he was “working.”
When trust is broken between two people, we begin to feel insecure about their love for us.
We start questioning their commitment to the relationship. We worry about how many other times they have lied in the past, and figuring out when to trust and when to protect ourselves becomes a full-time job.
Some of us can take on the full-time job of Detective. Analyzing all the data and following the scent of deceit. We can even become obsessed with finding the truth, breaking our own personal boundaries, and resorting to all sorts of crazy in order to discover what really happened.
Being lied to is an awful feeling.
And unfortunately, for most people suffering from addiction, it’s a habit of survival. They HAVE to lie to get away with their addiction. If they told the truth they would have to face the consequences and that’s one word that addiction doesn’t believe in.
So… where does that leave us? The ones being lied to? Can we ever trust again? How do we protect ourselves and stop living in a state of anger or anxiety?
First, it’s important to set realistic expectations.
If your loved one is actively drinking, using drugs, gambling, watching pornography, or whatever their addiction might be – if they don’t have a handle on it – expect lies.
Now, there are some exceptions, but for the most part, most people with addiction tendencies will fall under the category of liar.
As I explained before, this disease has taught them to lie. It’s a survival tactic, part of their toolbox and comes with the addiction package.
So, expect lies if you decide to stay with them. Drop the expectation they will always tell you the truth 100% of the time.
Secondly, trust your gut.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you think they are lying because you suddenly feel that alarm bell going off inside your stomach, your throat, your heart – wherever – trust it.
Just like lying has become part of the addict’s toolbox – lie detection has become one of your tools. You know the truth, and you don’t need them to validate your hunch.
Stop trying to beat the truth out of them. It makes no difference – they know they are lying. They know you know they are lying. No more needs to be said or done about it.
If you feel the need to say anything, just let them know in one sentence or less, I’m onto you and you’re not fooling me. Then move on. Quickly.
Lastly, let’s be super clear – trust is one of the necessary ingredients in any healthy relationship. If it’s compromised, your relationship begins to feel like it’s on shaky ground.
If you have been lied to by the one you love who struggles with addiction, it’s natural to armor up.
Lies create an unsafe relationship, so no need to feel guilty for doubting or questioning. Ever.
Don’t apologize for not trusting. People earn your trust over time and with their actions. And someone can’t expect you to trust them when they have been dishonest.
We need consistency. What they say needs to line up with what they do.
And until that happens, you need to set realistic expectations, trust your gut, and forgive yourself for being untrusting.
I understand exactly how you feel. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. But loving someone suffering from this disease doesn’t mean you need to wait for them to get sober to start feeling better.
It’s time to start your recovery by joining one of our programs and maybe considering becoming a Certified Love Over Addiction Mentor and leading a group of women through their recovery. If that sounds like something you’re interested in click here. We would love to have you join us.