‘Losing a Self: Lying to Yourself’ by Stephanie Brown

rsz_41a-shrpktl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_sx342_sy445_cr00342445_sh20_ou02_I’ve made reference to Stephanie Brown’s brilliant book A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation in past blogs. I’ve recommended this book to several women in early recovery and they have really like it.

Here, Stephanie describes how one’s self (or identity) changes in a negative manner during the process of addiction. She focuses on lying to oneself.

‘… addiction develops over time, and it involves changes in the way you behave but also changes in the way you think: the way you think about drinking, the way you think about yourself, and the way you think about life.

You start to build your sense of self on a a false belief, the belief that you can control your drinking or other addictive behavior. This isn’t an easy thing to do. Since you really don’t have control, you’re going to have to lie to yourself in order to believe you are not addicted.

You have to tell yourself more and more elaborate lies over time, as evidence to the contrary becomes more and more compelling, and you have to rationalize or explain it away. All your energy goes into pretending…

… Our need to tell ourselves that we can control our addiction becomes the organizing principle for our lives; it dictates everything we say and every move we make. It’s a heavy burden, and ultimately it becomes one of the heaviest burdens of all, the burden of emptiness.

Alcohol, other drugs, or whatever substance you are addicted to, becomes the substitute that is missing in your self. The substance makes you feel like you are powerful… It gives you such a delicious sense of well-being, a sense you can no longer get in any other way. It’s false, but it sure feels real. It’s quite a bind.

You need the substance to feel okay about yourself, but if you admit you need the substance, you can’t feel okay about yourself. So you have to pretend, even to yourself.

The result is a smaller, narrow sense of self. You ultimately shut down your deepest experience of self. As a woman who is an active addict organizes her life around her need to drink and her need to pretend that she doesn’t need to drink, her life shrinks down.’

If you (woman or man) are struggling with an addiction, why not purchase and read this book? It’s well worth it.