Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Cynic in Me

I went to a meeting this morning and saw a man raise his hand and say he was at his first AA meeting ever. After a while, he shared, because, he reasoned, we would all want to hear from the new man. He could have been a speaker at a great huge AA meeting. He honestly gave a brilliant narrative of the progression of the malady of alcoholism. He started with recalling a walk down a city sidewalk in 1955, at the side of his father, passing a barroom and smelling the beer and smoke and thinking it was the best thing he ever smelled. And the first drink later, and the later drinks, and the trouble, and the more trouble, and the trying to stop, etc. And he ended his beautiful, articulate share by saying "and my name is Dave, and I am an alcoholic."

The cynic in me had him pegged as some kind of phony before he clinched it with that closer. I managed to keep my mouth shut and not share my suspicions with anyone - that is SOME kind of progress. I wish I could progress all the way to not being suspicious of people's stories. I would rather be burned by people lying to me than always be thinking they are. But I have such a time honed b.s. meter. And this guy was full of it. Too much AA lingo. And that closing - which we don't even do here in Denver - they do it in other areas of the country, and a few people do it here, but not many. But I have not once ever heard a newcomer do it.

Even when I walked into the room, I noticed him. I thought of going over to introduce myself, but then someone else did, so I could just sit where I like and do what I wanted. Even then, I thought he was sizing up the room, were people welcoming him, etc. I hope we didn't let him down, truly I do hope we didn't. Because no matter what his story is, I am quite certain he is an alcoholic. No one can describe alcoholism the way he did without having lived it. Most people can't describe it that eloquently until they have been sober for a decade or two, because it takes that long for the fog to lift and the reality of the horror to become evident and real.

It reminded me of the time a few years ago when a man had started coming to our group. We had just lost a couple of members tragically. Our group was in collective grief and some of our members were in horrible personal tragedy. This guy comes along and says his wife and daughter were just killed in a car accident. I told my friend later that I thought that was a lie. She was horrified that I would sit in judgement of what someone said in an AA meeting as being true or false. I felt terrible about what an awful person I must be to have judged him. About a year later, we all found out that he never had a wife or daughter and there was no car accident. My friend asked me how I knew that... I don't know... he just sounded like he was full of s***. That's all.

So now I shall go and pray for this defect to be removed.

13 comments:

dAAve said...

It seems your b.s. meter is working just fine.
I have been fooled by a couple of these guys in my few short years of sobriety. It just reminds me that some seem to be sicker than others.

Patty said...

Oh, Mary me too! I take it all so personally!

At the meetings in my area, we introduce ourselves first then share.
Ex. I am an alcoholic and my name is Patty, blah, blah, blah.

Scott W said...

My BS meter is in full working order. Can't explain it. And not just in the rooms of AA. Guess now I will have to join you in that prayer.

Lou said...

Mine doesn't work at all. There was a very active AA man at our church, and I worked with him a lot in the prison ministry, which he started. He had offered to sponsor Andrew before, and then later wrote to him in prison occasionally. He told gripping and emotional stories, including a pro football career, suicide of a wife, prison stints, being picked by famous people to tell his story..and on and on. Someone WITH a bullshit meter finally googled one of his stories and it didn't match. That aroused their curiously, so they checked more. Turns out it was all lies. He even lied about things he didn't need to lie about.

I bought it all:( And then I had to tell Andrew that this man who had promised him sponsorship, a job, references, etc was a fraud. My fault, however. I had no business "orchestrating" Andrew's involvement in AA.

Kim A. said...

I am the flip side of your coin. I went around most of my life in naive-like fantasy-bliss that if someone actually said it, then it must be true, because why would someone lie to me? Which is why my story includes money sent to online preachers and psychic hotlines. I'm better now..kinda like a cynical optimist.

Namaste

Hap Joy Free said...
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Syd said...

I have a lot of intuition about people. At the same time, I work at not judging. I work at my own truth and do what I can to not think about the truths of others. Insincerity is a fear based thing perhaps.

Hap Joy Free said...
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God Is said...

Not all judgement is bad. I used to try and be judgement free. The whole mote in the eye thing. I have found that we need to judge and size people up. Where do we place our limited energy in helping others. Worse for me in the beginning was the feeling that I was being judged. That kept me away for a long time.

Carverlane said...

About that BS meter: "We come to rely upon it."

I read the other post and I am so sorry about the loss of your loved one.

Pam said...

Mine does not work at all in the program but works great at work.

kstehens100 said...

I appreciate your honesty. Yet set a good example.

Anonymous said...

Tough one... does one really want to go check up on people to see if their story is correct?

I would submit that, if the story got you thinking about your own sobriety, and included some questions for you to sit with, it was all worth it. True or false. We're free if we don't have to lie about anything anymore. Those who don't have that experience, we can only lead to that which can make them sober and spiritually fit again.

If somebody tries to shake some money out of you: buy him a drink. Chances are he really needs it :-).