Part 3: Conclusion
False accusation (Wikipedia describes it this way): A false allegation can occur as the result of intentional lying on the part of the accuser, or unintentionally, due to a confabulation (a false memory used to fill in gaps), or when a person is suspected of a wrongdoing for which the accusing party is actually in fact responsible. False accusations may be used to divert attention from one's own guilt.
Additionally, once a false accusation has been made — particularly an emotionally laden one — normal human emotional responses to being falsely accused (such as fear, anger, or denial of the accusation) may be interpreted as evidence of guilt.
For me this is the most frustrating tactic to navigate. It can seem as though the more you try to set things straight the worse you will sink. I remember my Dad telling me years ago that if I ever lost control of my car on ice, I should let go of the steering wheel. He told me to do it long enough for the car to straighten itself out. I have also found this to be my best strategy when it comes to false accusations. Sometimes I just have to take my hands off, go silent, hold my peace and trust that it will straighten itself out. Eventually it will, truth always comes out. In the meantime, the harder I try to steer my way through it, the worse it can seem to spiral out of control. I know I can trust the truth.
“If you tell the truth it becomes part of your past. But a lie becomes part of your future.” ~Unknown
Those who lie, accuse and condemn are not trying to find peace and solution, they are not coming from a healthy place, they are most often hiding a deception or an addiction. Accusation and condemnation are not ways of healthy accountability or problem solving, they are no more than distractions and they are no less than dysfunction.
Such conversations with my Mother would typically come to a close with her voice taking on a cold, mocking tone, reminding me that “God sees exactly” how I am. Using the familiar term of condemnation: She would call me “UnChristian” and let me know who knows how bad I am. The only conclusion we would ever come to is that essentially, confronting her with issues and disputing her behavior with truth means that I am worthless, I’m condemned to hell and I will soon have no one in my life to love or support me. She had God and all family members in her corner. I would shake my head hopelessly and wonder “How is it that I’m on defense when you just lied, covered up for your teenage grandson and snuck money (or your medication) to him? How am I in the hot seat? How am I shunned by God for this, along with my family? And I’m headed to hell? None of this makes sense!” And it never would.
I never came up with enough evidence, the correct words, or a strong enough defense for peace or truth to break through. And so it goes with the disease of addiction. There is no arguing with an addict, they don’t fight fair. They don’t want solution and peace, they just want to “feel well” (get high) and keep the lies covered up in order to do so.
The despair this caused is indescribable. It was a painful, lonely, frustrating cycle to break out of as detailed in my memoir “Unhooked.” Until I began a recovery process – round and round we’d all go. This went on for two-and-a-half decades.
You can recover.
For years this was my private horror story that I shared with very few. That is, until I chose to step out of the pathology of dysfunction and depart from our norm. I began to find my way forward when my son fell into the same plight of prescribed addiction after an injury. I finally chose to begin seeking support and recovery, along with truth and information about the mental, psychological and verbal abuse I’d endured for years as a result of addiction and dysfunction. I felt my son’s life depended upon my strength and sanity. Valuing his life forced me to finally value my own.
In spite of my Mother’s addiction and mistreatment, one fact I also had to face was that I had a part in it all. I, too, participated in the cycles of madness in my obsessive efforts to fight for what was right, true and fair. On my side of the street, I was fighting just as viciously to be heard, for facts to be seen, and for behaviors to stop. All the while things got worse, because I was, in fact, fighting a losing battle with a chemical addiction, versus trying to reason with a healthy, rational adult. That was a long, slow, painful conclusion to come to for me because this was my Mother. This is my Mom we’re talking about. It felt impossible to accept that I would never have the final, breakthrough conversation with her that would result in a healthy relationship for us, or simply bring us to a peaceful place..
Facing the truth was slow, complex and it felt terrible…but it set me free.
I don’t have to have those conversations of torment anymore. I don’t have to hang up the phone and call a friend in tears asking if I’m crazy and possibly seeing it all wrong, or…going to hell! For me to be peaceful and free I had to do the work to not see things how I hoped they could be, but for how they are. Nor would I believe vitriol about myself that had nothing to do with common human error and accountability. What a relief.
I now know that, just as I would never walk into a loud, rowdy bar at “last call” to try to argue with someone who has been drinking whiskey all day, I cannot argue with a person deep into opiate abuse. I can only control me. With that knowledge, I had to face the reality and grief of knowing I’m on my own without a Mom in this life (unless she becomes honest, kind and healthy toward fairness and truth). But it also gave me so much peace knowing I don’t have to live with dread or torment either. I now walk in the peace and freedom of who I am, regardless of who stands condemning me. I don’t deny my errors and failures, but I no longer deny my strengths and worth either.
If you recognize any of these behaviors or tactics occurring in your own life, know that you are not alone. It takes work but you, too, can find peace in the midst of the storm. Walk away, meditate, find a recovery support group (online or in meetings), call a friend, take 90 seconds to breathe and then return to the conversation if you must. You have options for hope and relief! And always – you can turn it all over to Your Higher Power who is better able to handle it than you or I will ever be. You can trust the process, What a relief.
“Let there be an opening into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace you did not think possible and see what shimmers within the storm.” ~John O’Donohue
Wishing you strength, gratitude and peace within every storm,
Annie Highwater is a Writer, Speaker, Podcast Host and Family Advocate. She has a particular interest in family pathology and concepts of dysfunction, addiction, alcoholism and conflict. Annie published her memoir, Unhooked: A Mother’s Story of Unhitching from the Roller Coaster of Her Son’s Addiction, in 2016. Her story sheds light on the personal challenges facing the affected parents and family members, and illustrates how family dynamics both help and hinder the recovery process. Annie’s second book, Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache was published in August of 2018. She resides in Columbus, Ohio and enjoys writing, long distance running, hiking, the great outdoors and visiting her son in California as often as possible.
** Please note, if my issues with my mother hadn't been serious matters of right and wrong, life and death and danger concerning my son, I would have had a much easier time dropping the fight and moving on. But for a time I had to take this fight – which was parallel to my real fight – the fight for my son’s life against prescription pill addiction. I forgive my Mother but now have strong boundaries when it comes to the relationship (the experiences are detailed in my memoir “Unhooked”).
“Unhooked” book link: