“…We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs…” What greater demonstration of principles could there be than the truth? If you look at the home page of this blog, there are a number of quotes about and examples of, lies. My favorite is one my mother used to say, and later I found out it’s author was Samuel Clemens.
Yep, Mark Twain:
“If you don’t lie, you never have to remember anything…”
I’ve finally, after much hemming and hawing, gotten to this post which is really the gist of my life for a long, long time. Lies I told myself. There have been some real whoppers of course, but generally my mind is filled with little things that are either blatant lies, stories I tell that are total fabrications, big exaggerations, little exaggerations, withholding, little white lies, and a mixture of truth.
The number one big lie I tell myself: I Must Make Everyone Happy. I have accepted that lie as my goal in life. I have to make people happy. Of course it’s neither my responsibility nor is it possible, but I twist myself around trying to do that.
When I got out of rehab, my brother who has 30 years of sobriety came down from Washington state to be with me, proffer some sage advice and generally help a man who was still sick. He is brutally truthful. He bludgeons people with the truth. If someone is an idiot, he lets them know. He will be the first to tell you he does not suffer fools well. At work, they call him mister Fuck You. He is at the far right of the spectrum. He said, “Dude, you try to be so nice that I don’t know when you’re telling the truth.” My dalliance with the truth made me untrustworthy. So I had to straighten him out, I told him he brutalizes people with the truth, he bludgeons people with it. Look up A-Hole, his picture is there. I on the other hand, will say anything if I think it will make you happy. My brother told me he can’t trust me because of that trifling with the truth. He doesn’t know if I’ll come through or not, so he doesn’t trust me. Rightfully so. Have I made him happy? Um, no, it’s not possible. But I told him the truth about this one. I said “Dave, you’re an asshole”. It So I’m at the far left of the spectrum. Somewhere between us is a person who is thoughtfully truthful. Someone who will kindly and gently tell you the truth without being mean or irresponsible. Someone who’s neither a liar nor an asshole.
So, I lie. One of my coping mechanisms (see my post The Most Loving Show On Earth about Coping mechanisms) is passive-agressive. If you ask me to do something, even though I don’t want to do it, I’ll say yes to make you happy. But if I really don’t want to do it, I’ll get back at you simply by not doing it. I’ll put it off, I’ll procrastinate, I’ll lie, but it is a coping mechanism because really deep down, I want you to be happy so I tell you what I think you want to hear. It works, but only temporarily. You can pay me now or you can pay me later with interest.
So what about my lies? I lie when truth would sound better. Then there’s Lies, damn lies and statistics. I’ve always said with the right P sample you can prove anything. I’m going to turn this into a book someday; I’ve already got the domain name: Lies I Told Myself. So is wanting everyone to be happy, to my own detriment bad? Yes of course.
Here’s a little something that goes along with the lies. I never had feelings I recognized, I was too busy trying to help other people clean their side of the street. Hypocrisy. Well and narcissism as well. I didn’t feel anything, so how could what I do harm you? And I had to numb myself because the voice inside my head tells me I’m pretty worthless. So much so that when I tell you anything if I think it’ll make you happy, it’s partly because I don’t deserve being happy, so someone might as well be. It’s so insidious and fucked up that even when I try to explain it to myself its crazy. So a lot of it has to do with the voices in my head.
But somewhere along the way I found this set of guidelines. That and some really great, honest, caring people I found that help me with the guidelines and keep me sorta focused on them have begun to set my compass straight. My moral compass as Dennis Prager calls it, was completely broken, and the simple (but not easy) set of steps, and the people I know make me believe I don’t have to drink because of those voices that tell me I’m worthless.
So to help me keep from believing I have to make you happy, I keep showing up, I keep coming back…