Failure & Honesty Collide
Have you ever had someone you know tell you, 'man, did I make a killing at the casino last night'? How about, 'wow, I won big on the video lottery machine at the bar'? It's happened to me many times over the last thirty years. Friends gloating about their cash winnings, describing in the most vivid details how they beat the system; how they beat the house. Lady luck often blesses those who beat the system though failure will never trump honesty. The old adage goes like this 'fool me once, shame on me; fools me twice, shame on you'
Over the past two weeks, I've made the decision to better my life by empowering myself with the help of two accountability groups, each with their distinct characteristics. Now, this isn't to say that life isn't grand; I truly believe that at 51 years old, I finally know who I am as a person. I believe time has come to take that knowledge to the next level.
I've chosen this path because there are always positive lessons to learn, different perspective to see and more than one way to skin a cat. The lessons I am learning are neither earth shattering or eye opening revelations. They are a crystallization, they are a focus; they are bringing clarity to an organized confusion within. One of these groups has brought to the forefront a clash of realities, which I previously lived but which today, I continue to explore in my recovery.
There are a litany of occasions where I have failed in life, perhaps too many to either count or acknowledge, though I will delve into one recent to demonstrate the clash between failure and honesty.
In the book Choose Yourself, by James Altucher, he related a story of how he used to hold a Q & A session every week on Twitter. The main question from his followers was 'why is it that dishonest people always make it big and honest people don't'? He responded by saying 'that's never the case', though his questioners continued by saying 'well, it does in my case'! Altucher went on to use the story of Bernie Madoff as his example to show how honesty, or in this case dishonesty will always lead to failure. Now, I don't think I need to expand on the Berne Madoff story, except to say that his dishonesty lead to the crashing of his business empire and his permanent residency in a fine correctional institution in the State of North Carolina.
In my case, since the early 2000's I had been a chronic drinker. At the outset, I started with a bottle of wine from time to time to help me sleep because of my separation with the mother of my baby girl. I graduated to a bottle per night for obvious reason; tolerance. As my tolerance grew, so did my quantity until I reached two bottles per night and numerous on the weekends.
By the time 2013 arrived, I was a professional, an alcohol consuming machine; a functional alcoholic who never admitted to anyone, least of all myself. Yet, in 2013, I would meet my future bride and someone who I was committed to keeping in my life forever, though for one small but important fact, which I omitted to tell her; she was dating and eventually marrying an alcoholic. I remember two vivd conversations, which could have changed the course of history but my deception was in control of my every thought.
The first of the two was during the interview stage of the relationship; you know, the part where you're getting to know one another. She had recounted to me about her colitis, her bulimia and the therapy she used to combat her binging and purging. She used to lie to her friends and family about her situation, about the pain her colitis was inflicting on her body. Yet, with professional help, she came clean to her support group and made amends to them. She opened up to me about her personal trauma and here was my opportunity to follow suit, though I kept my demons close to my chest.
The second occasion to come clean was after I came back from Cuba that same year. I had travelled south with my daughter to enjoy some rest and relaxation. After a week of partying and in particular on a specific night, where I think I combined every known type of alcohol; when I got back I told her the story. I told her about my escape and swore I was off the booze for good. Being a non-drinker, I believed she was relieved to hear those words, yet, I didn't mean them. My drinking continued after very short hiatus, though now in hiding.
As in the case with Bernie Madoff, my dishonesty lead to my failure at marriage because it only lasted three mere months. Now, I cannot speak for Mr. Madoff but what I know today is I am in a REAL committed relationship. Today, I'm in such a positive position because of my honesty at the outset. The burden I was carrying on my shoulder, the perpetual web I was weaving as an alcoholic was gone.
With my almost three years in recovery, I have learnt many truths about addicts. We are selfish, we isolate and we lie for a living. Today, finally at 51 years old I've learnt the cardinal rule: HONESTY IS ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY!
If you're asking the question, why did I start this blog with the story of winnings at the casino or on the video lottery machine? Excellent question, though it should be pretty evident. Gambling, like alcohol, like drugs; they are addictions, therefore, the same truths apply. So, when a friend tells you about his winning, is he being honest with you? Maybe, though I have learnt that gamblers never tell you about their failures; how much they've lost. The clash of the two realities.
by Stewart Michaelson
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