Little lies, big lies, white lies, lies of omission. Lies are not unique to the struggles of mental illness or substance use. But WHY, especially when it seems so obvious, so unnecessary, when some lies cause even bigger problems?
Consider this: Essentially every thing we do has some kind of payoff, some benefit or we wouldn't do it. It has a benefit and makes sense in some way even if it seems illogical or dysfunctional. It is the way the mind, the ego operates. It's the way of being human.
One of the benefits we desperately try to get is to feel SAFE. SAFETY is an essential, core need. If there's a hint of a threat to not getting a perceived need met, to avoid struggle, to distract because it's easier that way, well then lying is a way to accomplish that. It gets the job done, and no you do not have to like it or empower the lie. Still, we all need to feel safe.
Our kids, in all the chaos, shame, desperation, will do whatever they need to do to restore safety. How many of us just want them to feel safe? We just have different perspectives of how to be safe. One way, in their world, in order to BE SAFE is to LIE.
We might think "he/she is never going to stop lying". Could be true. Let me tell you some things that are even truer:
Here are some possible responses to lies to consider if they feel true for you:
(in honor of Nancy)
When we love someone who struggles with substance use and addiction, it is all too common to believe the thought “he/she might not be able to do IT for themselves”. Of course, it doesn’t mean we always believe that, it’s just that if we’re totally honest, we can sometimes believe that thought. At least I do sometimes when the rug is pulled out from under my feet, again.
Another slip. Things were going ok for about a month after another slip, and another, and another. Years of other slips. It makes sense that the thought “he might not be able to do IT for himself” will show up. So I'm not going to judge the thought. It has a right to show up. And when it does, the stress is so potent that the kindest thing I can possibly do (for me and my son) is to question it. Pain becomes the guide, the teacher, the path to peace when these thoughts and beliefs want to say otherwise.
Join me in this exploration, to find truths that arise in the stillness of an open mind, an open heart.
1. I can not possibly know the future, his future, my future. What does “it” even mean? Abstinence? Just not being homeless? Staying alive? Only smoking weed?
2. When I believe the thought, even if briefly, I can barely think of anything else except worrying about his future, my future. I leave my wisdom, my heart, I go into fear, imagined worst case scenarios … and it is painful. I doubt him, I doubt the benevolence of Love itself. This thought might try to help save me from further pain to anticipate it, however, it actually causes more pain. There would be no preparation to worse. The worse is already happening in my mind and imagination. And to put my son there hurts him, hurts me, hurts the love I can feel now, now, now. I have left love, no wonder it hurts. I know Love wants me back though, I want it back too.
3. I know to question the thought, to give myself an opportunity to contemplate this situation without believing the whole story of him not being able to do IT. And when I don't believe the thought to be the only truth, I am available to breathe deeply into now, into the support of my chair, the deep breaths that keep grounding and centering me enough to be moved throughout the day without crumbling, to notice imagination vs just not knowing. Not knowing is far kinder. I become kinder to me, knowing I will be kind and compassionate in this unfolding situation as best I can. Again, the only IT I really need is to try and show up as Love, loving, acknowledging he has IT – he has Love too!
4. I can not do IT for him. I wish I could. But, if I go to war with that reality, I suffer. If I suffer in that argument with the way things are, my relationship with him is sure to suffer too. I don't like it, but it is the way it is. What can I do? This work, from fear to love, and loving.
I don’t know the future, do you? We can not. What we can know is to set our minds, our hearts, set intentions to love now, and the next now as best we can. It will be imperfect and so much better than not doing this work. The way back to the awareness of love is through the fear. This is one of the most powerful ways I do that. Questioning the fears. Love finds me every time. It can find you too!
The answer is LOVE, always. How does Love show up and how do we join it? What do we need to join it, to take care of our fears, to take care of our needs, to take care of the ones we love so dearly without imposing a scary future onto them, onto ourselves, onto now? Now is where Love lives.
It’s so easy for the imagination to take us to the worst case scenarios. The thoughts explode: My child is hurt, dead, dying, lost to me, I’ll never see them again. We put our dear children into this very frightening and painful future, and we lose ourselves, we lose our children, we lose the awareness of love, the peace of it.
I have found the safest place for my child is to notice when my fear takes me into the nightmare and to breathe into right now, breathe into my heart, or I am going to spin into the future nightmare and grow it. That's not what I want to grow, and I'm surely thinking you don't either.
To notice when I'm in my scary imagination, and then to question the truth of what I’m believing and imagining allows just enough space to let Love show me a kinder way, a more peaceful way. It brings me out of my mind and into my heart. When it seems I’m losing my mind, yes please let me lose the fearful one!
My heart becomes the safest place for me and my child. He is always safe there. He is safest when I question the very truth of what I’m imagining and believing. Is what I'm believing, imagining for sure absolutely accurate? Most times, it is an assumption, a fear, an imagined story of the past or future.
Is it true my son is lost to me? Or is it truer I lost him to my fears? Yes, truer. Is it truer I lost me? Yes, there I go into the future that isn’t even here yet, and I lose the awareness of a connection that transcends time and space. I lose the awareness of love. No wonder it hurts! If I lose me, lose all that, I lose him.
When I question my thoughts this way, peace has a chance, it arrives. My heart arrives. My son comes back to me and I don’t need to know where he is. He is here, in my heart, held by love itself. Fear can not have us, can not keep us. Love has found us. I can keep coming back this way. I send him the best of my love, without conditions, even if through time and space. I trust it gets where it needs to go, like a virtual hug. Unconditional love can do that. Fear can not.
Just notice how much it hurts to be in the unquestioned fear, in the future imaginations that take us out of the present and into a nightmare. Where do our children really live? Always in our heart, in our kindest memory, in the wonders of life they have lived, the beauty in them, they have touched our lives, touched the world. They live in us as we honor life and love itself, to choose more of it. To go against our very soul that knows this, to go against Love itself may be the greatest pain we can experience. And Love can find us again and again and bring us back to sanity, to peace, to a kinder way.
Love wins here!
From my heart to yours,
Weeds or Wishes ?