Lie to Me, I’ll Believe


Did you believe the lies they told? The lies you told yourself?

In my essay in The New York Times, “Surviving an Alcoholic” (5/27/15), I wrote about the challenges the widowed of alcoholics face: shame and guilt.  But what about the lies? The aftermath of death is often filled with discovery. I’ve touched upon this topic before in my blog, the secrets uncovered post-mortem. With the overwhelming interest in my Times piece, readers reached out – not only survivors of alcoholics, but survivors of drug addicts, sex addicts, gamblers. Of course, not all addictions cause or contribute to death. But the realization of their spouse’s secret lives and alter egos was an added agony to the devastation of loss, compounding their grief.

In a Psychology Today article, “The Truth about Lying,” Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Virginia, notes: “You save your really big lies for the person that you’re closest to.” While that may not make you feel any better, perhaps you feel less alone.

The truth is, relentless honesty isn’t likely. Can anyone of us claim having never grasped for that ‘little white lie’ in a sticky social situation? But the big lies hurt. The big lies destroy.

When I began to suspect my husband was an alcoholic, I didn’t let on, in part because I was in disbelief. He’s a social drinker, it’s not what I think. I needed proof.

But even after months of scrutinizing, there was still a swirl of emotions upon discovering evidence: vindication (I was right, he’s an alcoholic – I’m not crazy.); revelation (I was right, he’s an alcoholic – What now?); devastation (I was right, he’s an alcoholic  – What has happened to our life?). How much more proof did I need to accept what I already knew? I was lying to myself.

Was I lying to others by my omission? Except for the few who knew, those whose help I desperately needed in order to help Robert, I refrained from telling others. It was suggested by my husband’s physician that the time for admission would come later in Robert’s 12 Steps phase. In order to help Robert focus on his recovery and his career, the doctor thought it best not to share.

We lie to spare feelings, to avoid awkward situations, to protect our loved ones, to save lives. Our goal was to help Robert. But the truth is the only one who could have helped my husband, was my husband. But he was lying to himself.

5 Responses to “Lie to Me, I’ll Believe”

  1. Diane B

    I got to the point where I didn’t believe anything my husband said when it came to what he did that day or who he was with. More than likely, he would have lied about it any way to cover up that he was drinking. I checked behind him, so I knew he was telling the truth. I checked the mileage on his car to see how many miles he drove that day while I was at work (he was retired). Depending on what it was, I could tell about where he had been, even though he swore the car never left the garage that day. then I lied, I lied about his problem to my children, his family and our friends. I knew it was bad, but not as bad as it was until that last year. And I still lied to others, saying he was okay. He’s gone now. No more lies!

  2. JackieS

    As I read threw His journals, whilst He was in His rehab stints, I’ve come to realize…..that “that” which took over Him, The Monster, aka 1 liter of Vodka +-/day…..actually tried to kill me. Me for the Life Insurance money……How He was going to leave me…..homeless, living on the street ….in a box…He first tried to kill me by un-doing the lug nuts on my tires……He felt shame and regret……but that was the Monster…..not the Man who adored me.

  3. Jacqueline

    So true and so much to think about … my husband and I went to therapy for 14 years. the therapists would say, after a couple of sessions, that my husband should continue in therapy and that what was going on was not a “couples therapy or marriage counseling issue”. the confusion around what is real, what was, what isn’t real and what wasn’t real is something that I continue to sort through…hearing what others have experienced has helped in so many ways… I am glad to have found this website

  4. Anne Minihan

    I also found Alanon after he died by suicide 6 weeks ago…and I have felt guilt that i did not go sooner …maybe things would have been different….maybe we would have fought less….maybe……You still can find your people there…it is helping me

  5. Janet

    How true. Because I didn’t tell anyone what was going on, it was almost as if they didn’t believe me once he died by his own hand. Then it was my fault for a while. I believe living with an alcoholic is a damned if you do , damned if you don’t life. I wish I had known about Alanon sooner. I might have found “my people” there.Now I’ll never know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: