Monday, September 12, 2005

Putting One Over

One of my major personality defects is a habit of faking it. It seems to be a specific form of dishonesty and egotism.
I don't have to do the footwork. I can find the shortcut. I can find the loophole. I'm smarter and more clever than everyone else, so I don't have to waste my time and energy making an honest effort. I can bluff my way through, skate around obstacles, weave a whole reality out of rationalizations, excuses, plausible half-truths and misdirection. I can put one over on just about anyone, and they'll never know it. The rules simply don't apply to me. I got it goin' on, and I'm bulletproof. Doing the right thing when no one's looking is for suckers. Doing the right thing when someone IS looking shows lack of initiative and resourcefulness.
What makes this a particularly insidious form of dishonesty and egotism is that the person who most firmly buys into the lies, and believes this flimsy, insane contraption is "reality," is me. I put one over on myself, the rest just flows so naturally and easily, I'm off in an alternate universe, and reality becomes invisible to me.

I thank my sponsor for holding this mirror up to my face, to show me so clearly what is often very difficult to see in myself. It's the last thing he's done for me as my sponsor; I hope not the last thing as a friend.

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I've had a falling-out with my sponsor. I broke what I think of as Rule Two of sponsorship: I loaned him money. I knew, when he asked me, it was a bad idea. I knew I couldn't count the times I've read and heard that sponsors should not borrow money from sponsees; never once has anyone suggested sometimes it's a good idea.

But I loaned him money. Because I'm not like everyone else. This is different. I'm unique. The rules don't apply to me.

He wanted to borrow money -- a not insignificant amount -- because he had moving expenses, had to register and insure his car, and he had plenty of money, but he just wanted to make sure he wouldn't be caught short. Just for a couple weeks, a cash flow timing thing.

I knew he was caught up in the thing with his imaginary girlfriend. So, being wise and rational, I loaned him the money, on condition that he not send money to her before she actually shows up to visit him. He said, oh, of course not, I'm not going to send her money. Fine, cool, that showed he recognized it could be a scam, he was being careful, and wasn't going to do anything stupid. So I gave him the money.

A few days later he sent her several hundred dollars.

I was furious, and I told him so. I demanded my money back immediately. (Which I got today, thank God.) He cannot understand why I'm upset. "It wasn't the money you gave me. I used different money. The money you gave me is still in the bank." I said, just because you put the money I gave you in your right-hand pocket, and pulled money from your left-hand pocket and gave it to her, doesn't mean you've gotten around the conditions of my loan. If you're in a position to borrow money from me, you're not in a position to send money to Russia. But this made no sense to him. He is sure he found a loophole in the plain meaning of the conditions of the loan.

When I saw him today, and got my money, I just wished him luck. I told him, point-blank, his girlfriend is imaginary, and that she hasn't stopped emailing him because she's going to try to get more money from him. She's allegedly on the train, on her way to get the plane to the US, and will arrive Friday.

Here's what I did NOT say to him, because I don't want to regret it later:

You're sure that in a week, you'll be in your new place with her, with this Pet of the Year who is crazy about you. She's going to stay and your life will be fabulous. You got it goin' on -- you must, for this to happen to you because of a few dozen emails you sent her.

If your girlfriend is real, and everything has been on the level, she's likely to be royally pissed you haven't told her about your past, your situation, and your alcoholism. You've been frantically running around to find a place and move out of your sober-living apartment before she arrives, get your license reinstated before she arrives. Are you planning to leak out the truth in small doses? Or keep putting it over on her indefinitely? Since you got it goin' on, you think you can control it, you can control the image she has of you so she'll stay crazy about you.

You will, however, I can practically guarantee, find yourself a week from now all alone in your new place, broken-hearted, and finally sinking in that one has been put over on YOU. That you ignored reality because you wanted the fantasy so much. And in your new place, unlike where you've lived since you got sober, there are no external constraints on alcohol. You've gotten used to the idea you've got it goin' on, that you can hedge the truth, that you're in control. It's real easy to decide you can get drunk tonight, just once, to kill the pain, and no one will know, you don't have to tell anyone, no one in AA will know. No consequences! You can get away with it, you can put it over. The next day, you can figure, what the hell, that worked out fine, you can do it one more time tonight. And you'll be off and running.

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I'm not different from him. How many times has it crossed my mind that I can get away with drinking, that no one will know? At some point, something shifted -- it was just me and HP, and HP showed me that I would know, and I didn't want to lie to myself. I'm accountable to myself and HP. And I can count on HP to give me whatever I need to look myself in the eye each night, and account for my sobriety that day. If I ever start thinking I got it goin' on, that I can put one over on myself and HP, my sobriety will be in deep trouble.

In my last post I wrote about my struggles with my wife and issues about taking care of our son. This episode with my sponsor has helped me recognize how this character defect is affecting how I'm handling it. I'm sure I'm a better caregiver than my wife: I got it goin' on. I'm keeping records, and I can use the information strategically, releasing it at times and in amounts that are advantageous to me my son's wellbeing: I can put one over, I'm in control.

Well, I printed out my record of the time I've spent with our son since December. I gave it to my wife and told her, I'm not trying to put one over on you, I want us to be talking about the same information, for our son's benefit.

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I'm learning that when I find myself in a jam, it's usually because of some combination of egotism/lack of humility; dishonesty; and/or insufficient trust in God. I want to be able to look myself in the eye, and be accountable to myself and HP, in every aspect of my life, not just about drinking.

6 Comments:

At 9/13/2005 01:08:00 AM, Blogger K said...

That's great you gave your wife that list. Staying on the up and up is the only way to go. I hope she took it well, and if not at least you can say you were upfront and honest.

 
At 9/13/2005 05:39:00 AM, Blogger NMAMFQLMSH said...

WTF Phil loaning money to your sponsor who has an imaginary girlfriend. I've loaned (using that term loosely) to people in AA before and I have kissed it goodbye. I've learned my lesson. Boy, I could tell you a story. Too long for here though.
Keep up the good work with your son and pee and that cup!
Love you bro.

 
At 9/13/2005 06:26:00 AM, Blogger Grace said...

Phil, giving an acurate list of events to your wife isnt 'getting one over', its just the truth, plain and simple, the facts. And it sounds to me as if you'd do a better job at sponsoring your sponsor than he does of sponsoring you! :-)

 
At 9/13/2005 05:25:00 PM, Blogger dAAve said...

First of all, Phil, excellent post, well written.

Second, use the returned loan for fresh guacamole.

 
At 9/13/2005 08:30:00 PM, Blogger doughgirl said...

Unbelievable post...brutally honest which you can be with yourself, just not with others and you werent. Im proud of you. They say if we can see it we are probably in it. I live by those words today.

Great job..luv ya

 
At 1/24/2006 09:25:00 PM, Blogger alberthaanstra said...

Hi Blogger! Ik ben op zoek naar kredieten Zou Afab echt zo goed zijn als iedereen beweert? Of kan ik beter zoiets als Geldshop proberen?

Groetjes Albert

 

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