The Reasons to Lie)
The addict is a curious creature, utterly appalled at his inexcusable behavior, yet also in complete denial about it. Before acting out he minimizes the severity of the deed, reassuring himself that just this once won’t make a difference and he can quit whenever he wants. Immediately afterwards he experiences terrible self-loathing, promising himself that he will never do it again.
Now and again, during those shameful after-effects where he most strongly wishes to be free of his vice, the thought might occur to him that he needs to tell someone what is going on. If he is married, he might feel that he needs to tell his wife. If he is religious, he might feel that he needs to confess to a leader. If he has broken laws, he might feel that he needs to turn himself in to the police. If none of the above, there is still confession to those that have been hurt, professional therapists, or close friends. There is always someone that the addict could turn to…if they had the courage.
And it is this matter of courage where the addict struggles. For no sooner does the thought to confess rise up then it is forced right back down. He might fight the urge down through minimizing:
“Oh I don’t need to do anything as drastic as that! I just need to really try my best and I’ll be able to take care of it.”
Or he might come up with some reason why he can’t:
“I would tell my wife the truth…but it would break her. I just can’t put her through that pain, she doesn’t deserve it.”
Or, if he’s being more honest, he just isn’t willing to face the fear:
“If I tell, I’ll lose everyone and everything. I can’t lose my marriage. I can’t lose my kids. I can’t lose my church. I can’t lose my job. I can’t and won’t do it.”
The Mind’s Fear, the Heart’s Hope)
This fear is the real reason why the addict doesn’t confess. If he could have solved it on his own, he would have done it by now, and he doesn’t protect anyone but himself by living under a false image. The only reason that stands up to scrutiny is that he isn’t willing to lose the things that he has.
Is that selfish? Yes, but it is also human nature. We are terrified of losing our surrounding structure and that’s not always a bad thing. A healthy dose of fear keeps us from doing things that jeopardize our lives and well-being. The problem is that the addict’s fear is keeping him in a behavior that is destroying all the things that he doesn’t want to lose anyway.
He isn’t present at work, he isn’t working on his faith, and he isn’t faithful in his marriage. The things he is afraid of losing he is slowly gutting of their original virtue until they become an unfulfilling career, a hollow faith, and a sham marriage. So, in his self-interest, he is ironically destroying his own self-interest.
Thus, when it comes to hiding one’s addiction, we can immediately comprehend its root. The desire to hide comes from within the addict. It comes from the fear of losing himself. But now contrast this with the recurring notion that keeps returning to the addict that he should confess. Where on earth does that thought come from?
If hiding is about self-preservation, exposing is suicidal! As we have shown, excessive self-preservation can erode what the addict already has, but exposing his secrets seems that it will surely blow it all away! What possible reason would an addict’s mind have to conjure up an idea that is so against himself?
And the answer is: none. Because it isn’t about intellectual reasons. Any addict who appraises the idea of confession will realize that it did not come with a reason, it came with a feeling. The idea did not come from their analyzing, rationalizing, efficiency-focused brain, it came from the heart. Might it destroy the addict? Yes, that is a distinct possibility. But it just feels right even so. It feels like it might be just the thing to save the aching soul. Why? The addict might not have any idea why, but it just feels true in their heart.
Thus, hiding is to preserve yourself, but confession is to save yourself.