In Recovery, We Learn That Facing the Truth WILL Set Us Free
“Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always.” – Albert Schweitzer
In a heated courtroom scene in the movie A Few Good Men, Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) famously yells at military lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise): “You can’t handle the truth!”
What makes this scene relevant to people in recovery is not so much the colonel’s words, but the attitude he demonstrates. While indeed he is soon thereafter arrested by the court’s military police for admitting he gave an order that ended in a soldier’s death, what stands out plain and clear is his rationalization and justification of what he did.
And for me, that rings a bell. Looking back at when I was not yet in recovery, I seemed to constantly be rationalizing and justifying my obsessive-compulsive behavior – specifically, doing whatever it took to get “what I wanted, when I wanted it.”
I would not only lie to people (including those I loved), I would “believe” my own lies. And I did this by rationalizing (“Mom won’t miss this $20 and I need it more than her!”) and justifying (“I’m taking these pills to avoid getting withdrawals!”) whatever it was I did.
Once I got into recovery, though, I found myself in the company of people who had learned to:
- Admit and acknowledge the truth,
- Recognize their dishonesty and resistance to living truthfully was directly contributing to the insanity and chaos in their lives, and
- Practice simply telling the truth, both to others and themselves.
In recovery, I’ve found facing the truth about my obsessions and compulsions, and being honest with others about them has been both emotionally healing and actually set me free… free from the constant hiding, pretending, strategizing, manipulating, lying and making myself be or do whatever I thought I needed to “get my needs met”… And that freedom allows me to become, one day at a time, more open-minded and willing about embracing my new life in recovery, more at ease with myself and others, and more of who I truly am.
Through being in recovery and practicing the 12 Steps in my life, it’s such a gift to know: “I can handle the truth!”