"I'd been sober for about 2 years when did something terrible, and I couldn't tell my girlfriend. I lied to her... and in order to live with myself I started drinking again."
How could one secret make this dude forsake his entire sobriety?
It made no sense to me. There's another phrase that's common in 12 step programs, "We're only as sick as our secrets."
I really want to write a post telling you why, but I still don't really get it. There's something to it though, holding on to secrets which we think are too shameful to tell, they consume us.
The big book of AA tries to describe it better (btw, not an alcoholic, but I'm reading the book)
"More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. (Madi note: I think this applies to all of us to an extent) He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he doesn't deserve it.
He is revolted at certain episodes he vaguely remembers. These memories are a nightmare. He trembles to think someone might have observed him. As fast as he can, he pushes these memories far inside himself. He hopes they will never see the light of day. He is under constant fear and tension–that makes for more drinking.
We must be entirely honest with someone safe if we expect to live long or happily in this world.
We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us."