Written By: Katie Schipper

Staying Clean But Living Dirty

Trying to stay clean while living a dishonest life isn’t easy. It’s possible, but not easy at all. Not many people can do it. If you’re in a twelve-step fellowship, you may watch it happen. Usually, when someone’s sober while living dirty, it’s because she’s in a pretty intense state of denial about how she’s really living.

The reason it’s so hard to stay clean and live dirty isn’t complicated. You’re in a program that preaches honesty at every turn. Meanwhile, you’re living a lifestyle that requires lying! These opposites can’t work together for very long. The truth is that sometimes it takes time, a lot of time, for a woman to realize she’s lying to herself. It happens as a process and with support.

What about working a job that, at its core, is based on lying, misleading, or dishonesty?

 dishonest jobs in sobriety

Justifying Dishonesty

A couple of things come up right away when talking about dishonest jobs. There’s the idea that if enough people do it, as a group, they can convince themselves that it isn’t that bad, or that they aren’t at fault because they’re just doing their job. There’s always, ALWAYS, a justification for being dishonest. If people couldn’t justify living a lie, it wouldn’t be so easy to do at first. Dishonest jobs may also come with perks that make the lie seem like less of an issue. Maybe a dishonest job pays better or has better hours. It might have outcomes that are desirable and make your life easier. But at what cost?

Whatever treatment center for women you go to, one of the first things you learn (and hear over and over and over…and over) is how crucial honesty is to recovery. You hear how this means honesty in every area of your life. Once again, that doesn’t mean every lie you’ve ever told is suddenly going to come to light. Remember, denial is the foundation of addicts’ lives. Hey, we’re so good at denial that sometimes our lies feel like the truth! That’s why it’s so important in early-recovery to find people (like a sponsor and a support network) that help you tell the true from the false.

Making Choices and Sacrifices

The truth about having a dishonest job in sobriety, and being aware of that dishonesty, is that eventually it’ll catch up to you. This might take the form of a spiritual crisis, like a return to self-loathing. It might be an eventual loss of what having a dishonest job got you in the first place. It might be a relapse.

Dishonesty and losing the willingness to confront challenges is usually a stepping stones to deciding that getting high or drunk is a good idea. No one is perfect and no one is asking us to be perfect. The idea is to gather enough willingness and awareness that we can look at something (like a job opportunity) and reasonably decide whether it’s moral, honest, and worthwhile.

To put it another way – it’s better to make eight bucks an hour as a grocery checkout person, than to have a baller job with lots of cash at the price of sacrificing your integrity. Know why? Because there absolutely are things that money can’t buy.

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