For much of my life I found ways to cut corners, doing the absolute minimal to get the maximum result. In school, once I lost interest, which was around the 10th grade I really started looking for loopholes and the
easy way out. Whether it was forging my parents signature to get out of going to school, or forging baptismal certificates from the Christian Lighthouse Bookstore to obtain fake ID’s from the California DMV so I could roll into bars at the age of 17, if there was a shortcut to find my way to what I needed to do- I am taking it regardless of the consequences.
I ultimately started selling these baptismal certificates (which cost .75 cents) for $100 to my friends in high school. I would make them look old, by using a dated typewriter, add a coffee stain or two, rub in one of dad’s dress shoes to make it look even grubbier, and bam! You’ve got yourself a proof of birth which the DMV will accept (at the time) and I always used porn star names from the 80’s! So, if you didn’t want to be named Herschel Savage, Damien Cashmere, or Harry Reems, screw you! You weren’t getting an ID! That was my little joke, my little way of having a lasting impression upon my friends who had the courage to cross the threshold of the DMV all for the sake of receiving that little “Golden Ticket” in the mail which would allow you to buy alcohol or get served alcohol in any establishment…and mind you, we were 17.
This type of devious, dishonest behavior spilled over into much more serious types of actions which I will not get into right now, and I promise I am moving towards a valuable lesson that recovery has taught me. While drinking and using was my top priority, whatever I would leave in my wake from the night before was just a memory, and if there ever was an apology I am not sure how sincere it was. As time moved on from my teens I actually managed to “straighten up” professionally and ultimately made a really good living as the owner of a business insurance brokerage, while still playing in a punk rock band, living a double life, not knowing who I was and not really caring because so long as I had the money to fuel the things I loved to do (drink hard and ingest ridiculous amounts of narcotics) it didn’t really matter.
As you’re reading this you’re probably thinking, “this guy was always an asshole,” and that is not the case at all. I could be kind, personable, loving, charming, and have the best of manners in a restaurant or at a party function. But, it all depended on what type of day it was, the type of mood I was in, and if by chance I couldn’t score cocaine, I just might take off my pants and cram my genitals in the mashed potatoes at a Christmas Party in a private home (and yes, I did that…but only once).
Time moves on, and we get sicker in the disease, and people get more sick of us, and next thing you know, we aren’t even going out of our homes anymore, so we aren’t even cutting corners out in the real world, because there is no world that we are a part of. I can speak of this 100%, as I have a doctorate in isolation, withdrawing from loved ones, destroying relationships, disappointing people, and demolishing a successful business while killing myself in the process.
When I decided that it was “live or die” time in February of 2007 the brutal reality of “cutting corners” in my life was completely over with. There would be no easy way out of this one. I couldn’t go under it, I couldn’t go around it, I couldn’t go over it, I had to go through it. Meaning, all the pain of my physical detox and lack of sleep which I had to endure (there was no cutting corners there), all of the physical symptoms of withdrawal and utter insanity that the 17 year addiction to the painkillers gave me, I had to go right through that as well.
This was a first for me. I am the most impatient person I know, I want to feel good now, I want this or that now, and in fact, I want it all…yesterday. By the way, I have found I am not the only one in recovery who suffers from this defect, in fact, all of us are impatient, I just know I have it on a fucking level 10 off the charts. In time, I have gotten much better and thank god none of us are being graded on our progress in recovery, as I have said before, I am the slow one in this deal and everything for me has been very slow: feeling good took a long time, my brain fog took a long time to clear, my body took a long time to stop shaking, emotionally it seemed to be painful for a quite a while to start growing, etc. But every bit of it has been worth it, big time.
Now, back to cutting corners. Today I had a situation where I had a loaner car as mine was getting a major service. I had driven the loaner for about 22 miles, and I was supposed to bring the car back with a full tank of gas. As I was driving back to pick up my vehicle, I saw that the tank was still very much “full” and that the dealer would have no idea that it wasn’t. So, my thinking at first says, “what’s the big deal? I paid a lot of money for the car, and they would never notice.” I am about a mile away and then it kicks in, “this is not cool, this is not what I have been taught and I am not doing this.” So, I go to the gas station and pump $3.47 worth of gas and fill the tank, not a lot right? Well, it made a huge difference to me in that I did the right thing. Back in the day, I would not have even given a second thought to this and return the car and never considered going to the gas station.
This does not make me a good guy, this is putting the principles of what the program of recovery to work, and helping me to stay on track, and not allowing me to revert to what is known as “old behavior.” If I start stacking up crap like this, let’s say I do a few more things like this, next thing you know I am lying to my sponsor, or even to a client, and then…maybe, just maybe a drink or a huge bottle of Oxy is appealing to me. Screw that. I don’t want that in my life again.
Another example of this: I always, and I mean always take my shopping cart back to where it belongs, even if it’s way far away and a pain in the ass to do- I do it. In fact, I even grab other carts that other people leave, because it’s my way of making amends for all the times I was the jackoff that left his cart in inappropriate positions to ding cars and allow people to trip over. It’s just doing the right thing and it makes me feel good, and I love to feel good. But, recently I was at the market and as I made my way to my car I realized the girl at the register gave me about $60 too much in change. In my teens this was a few cases of beer, my early 20’s maybe a gram of blow, in recovery…it’s a girls job at stake.
I returned the money, that’s just the decent thing to do, and again, it doesn’t make me a good guy, but I sure as hell am glad I was aware to see the cash discrepancy, and that the girl wasn’t accused of shorting her cash drawer. Sobriety teaches us to not just be helpful to other addicts and alcoholics, it helps us to be better people in our community, we are more aware human beings, at least I know for sure that I am and I take a great deal of pride in that. And I have years to go to even the score for all the years I cut corners, but I am off to a pretty good start.