Addiction & Recovery, Restoration

If the foundations are destroyed

Walker Evans, March 1936, near Jackson MS

“Honesty is such a lonely word

everyone is so untrue

honesty is hardly ever heard

and mostly what I need from you.”

— Billy Joel

* * * * *

The path to the beach cuts through the woods near our house. At the edge of the cliffs, roots of lofty pines and cedars clinging to a wall of dirt above their fallen companions. Tree tops, immersed in sand.

We don’t often go to the beach in the winter. It’s cold. The way is muddy. . .

But in spring, we go. Carefully. Mom first. Checking the path for danger and sucking the joy out of the adventure with warnings and lectures.

We reach the sand and look back at the path we’ve descended. The wall has been cut away by waves, downpours, and the trickle of a seasonal stream. How long, I wonder, til our path is gone?

Longer than I think. That’s what I realize. I am always surprised to see the path still there, at the edge of the cliff. But the tree roots are stubborn. And erosion takes years.

* * * * *

Truth is the foundation of everything good.

 . . . of faith: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. . . of freedom: We hold these Truths to be self-evident . . . of justice:  swear to tell the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth . . . 

There is beauty in Truth. Security in Truth.

And there is nothing so destructive, so undermining, so shattering as being lied to.

* * * * *

Every six months something hit. A phone call. A letter. A bounced check or seven. My first response was always anger. Lashing out about irresponsibility. Frantic fixing. And then an aching confusion . . .

I was afraid you’d be mad, he’d say. Or, I know I told you that. My mind and heart whirling, trying to be strong.

Eventually, in an effort to preserve myself from these seasons of deep pain, I would become a watchdog. Determined not to be deceived again. Protecting myself. Thinking if I spotted the lies coming, they wouldn’t hurt so bad. Driving myself crazy in a futile effort to prevent feeling crazy.

And I felt crazy. I didn’t know what to believe.

I wanted to believe it would never happen again.

* * * * *

It’s in our nature to be deceived.  So, so easily.

Eve. The serpent. An apple.

But I wasn’t the only one being deceived. Dave had bought plenty of lies himself.

The shocking truth . . .

devastated by the truth . . .

the truth hurts . . .

Lies to make Truth sound like it is an enemy that will ruin your life. That truth is to be avoided at all costs, to preserve a relationship . . . to protect ourselves. So we are afraid to reveal who we really are. Or what we’ve done.

But the pain of hearing the truth is nothing next to the revelation you’ve been deceived. Lied to for years. No, lies are the real enemy. Truth sets you free.

The pills were bad, Dave will tell you, the addiction was bad, but lying did most of the damage.

It’s true. I could handle the Truth. I couldn’t handle being lied to.

But I was too proud to admit my marriage wasn’t perfect. I allowed myself to be deceived for years and never let another person in. I dealt with deception alone.

Lies eroded me and left me unstable.

There is nothing so destructive to a relationship as lying and nothing so hard to regain as trust.

* * * * *

I need to say thank you to Dave for encouraging me to tell these things. He knows I’m writing about the lies this week and stops to say once again that he’s so sorry for the years of them.

I read my journal to him from fifteen years ago and tell him I am amazed. Because I can see so clearly now where the lies and deception began to erode our marriage.

But it doesn’t hurt to write this today, I’m no longer worried about the eroding path. I am on the beach looking back at the cliff. And my roots are clinging to something stronger than man — made of dirt, of clay. And though this world is full of seasonal streams — and sometimes floods — of lies that threaten my stability, they will not destroy me.

Because no matter how awful it may seem, the Truth heals. 

And there have been years of Truth now . . . but that is for the next post.

In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me . . . .“ When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” . . . . for the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face. Psalm 11