And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. Genesis 45:26
In my addiction, living a double life was oddly normal. Because I couldn’t let anyone know that I was using, I became an expert at lying. Yes, it chaffed my conscience, but because I was addicted, I learned to separate my two existences. In one life, I was a good husband, father, and physician. In the other, I used drugs. Somehow, I was able to fool everyone around me to protect my dual realities . . . until they collided. Even as my life came apart, I desperately sought any deception that could keep things together. That was impossible though. In the end, I couldn’t run from the truth and, in one of the most painful moments of our lives, I had to sit my wife down and tell her exactly what I’d done. I’ve ruined our lives. I’ve been diverting opioids. I’ve lost my job and maybe my career.
I’ve got to wonder if Joseph’s brothers felt my angst as they returned home from Egypt after discovering Joseph was alive. On the one hand, it was going to be good news to their father. On the other hand though, the fact that they’d been living a colossal lie for years was about to come to light. They’d once sold Joseph into Egyptian slavery and then told Jacob that he’d been killed by wild animals. They’d lived this lie for so long that I’ve got to wonder if they considered trying to keep the deception going. We don’t know how this could be. We’re as shocked as you are dad. The passage doesn’t explicitly say it, but I assume they confessed. Jacob, having just learned that his sons had lived a lie for years, didn’t believe them at first.
In our self-destructive behavior, we often lie to protect our secret. Unwilling or unable to give up the behavior that we feel we must hide, we live in two worlds. When those worlds collide and the truth inevitably comes out, which it eventually will, the results are catastrophic as both worlds are torn apart. If we could, we’d lie our way out of it, but at this point, it’s too late as we decimate the trust of those closest to us.
Recovery for me then, has meant learning to live one life of integrity. If I find myself thinking or doing something that I don’t want my wife to know about, that must be a huge stop sign. In my addiction, I shattered trust. In recovery, if I want healthy relationships, then I must embrace honesty, abandoning secrets, lies, and double lives. Addiction was a life of deception. Recovery must now be a life of honesty and truth.