Addiction/Integrity

I sit on the back porch, magically cooler than anywhere else in or around my house.  There is a slight breeze and I can hear a cardinal singing, the cicadas buzzing, and the cheep cheep of some other bird.  It is quiet, I am exhausted from 3 solid weeks of hard labor, my joints ache, and all I want to do is sleep.

I now have all this open space, the last work now hired out to various laborers, the roof, the last bits of painting where I cannot reach, the plumbing, the electrical stuff.  My money is more or less gone too once all are paid.

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” 

“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”   ~ John Wooden

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.  There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.  ~ J.C. Watts

I am in this place mentally really chewing over some ideas of what it means to be called a bitch.  Men often call women a bitch as a means of controlling her, if she expresses her feelings of anger or disappointment, she becomes a bitch.  But if a man expresses feelings of anger, he is justified right?  I don’t like being called a bitch, because frankly I am not one.  Yes, I do get angry from time to time and I express that anger justifiably, but does that mean my very nature is that of a bitch?  No, because actually I think the vast majority of the time I am a genuinely kind and caring and loving woman.  I have every right to express emotions that are not all positive, happy and cheerful.  I am not a doll, or a fake person, I am not the kind of person who will play all nice nice to your face and then behind your back say all the things I wanted to say to your face.  But yes sometimes I express feelings that are not all charm.  Its okay.  I am allowed.

Now here is the thing, who exactly is allowed to call me a bitch?  Sometimes my sister calls me a bitch, but usually she is joking.  My Mom has called me a bitch on numerous occasions, and frankly sometimes I am rather a bitch to her.  She tends somehow to  bring out my worst fears and concerns, she has a way of pushing certain buttons that bring out the frustration and ire and anger in me.  I know I am responsible for my own actions and reactions, but man she is an expert at it.  It is almost like she is a 100 degree day with 90% humidity.  Yes I can smile cheerfully and face it, but man it has me on edge sometimes.  No one but our mothers.  I am sure I am this way to my daughter as well.  Who else is allowed to call me a bitch?  I don’t know.  But I do know that when someone calls me a bitch, because I am pissed off and I speak my mind, that is not allowed.  Nope.  Sorry.

How do you judge another person’s character?

According to the Free Dictionary, the definition of integrity is this:

1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
Look at definition number 2.  Are you a person of integrity if you spend the vast majority of your life impaired in some way, say on drugs or on alcohol?  And if in fact your number one priority in life is to be in the state of impairment are you then able to uphold definition number 1?  And is not your dependency on drugs and alcohol precisely because you do not feel that you are definition number 3 and therefore you must numb yourself to your perceived lack of wholeness?  Your feelings of emptiness?
I think of my father, who was an alcoholic, or as my friend Drew who is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic would say, a drunk, because an alcoholic goes to meetings.  Though my dad was a drunk, he was an ethical man, mostly.  He did drink and drive from time to time, and towards the end of his life he drank and often slept at work where he was a shift foreman.  As he aged, as his dependence on alcohol increased he became less of a an ethical man, his ethics were no longer about feeding his honor, but about feeding his addiction.  My sister told me once that in his hospital bed, he told her there was beer behind the seat of his truck, because sometimes he just needed it.  It is sad to think of this man, who was at one point in his life, a man of great integrity, being at such a weakened state of being.  His boss and the owner of his company said, that he had noticed some subtle changes in my father’s demeanor before he became ill, changes that called into question the very character on which his reputation was built.
I like to think of my father as a man of his word though, if he made a promise, he kept it.  He was a give you the shirt off his back kind of man, he wouldn’t charge you a dime for his time if you were family, or a person in need.  My friend Bill is a shirt off the back kind of man.  He has literally taken his shirt off and covered me when I was shivering cold.  But he does not make a promise he will not keep.  He doesn’t promise me one thing and then later hold it over my head, if you don’t do this or if you do that I won’t keep my promise.  And if he did do that I would begin to question whether he ever intended to assist me in the first place.
And what of thinking a person is not observant enough to notice what is done and what is not done?  What of a person who says, I am giving you a bargain at this price, but don’t tell anyone that is the price I am giving you, because when you do tell, you realize it was not a bargain at all.  What of telling a person I have your back, but instead you are sitting in your hobbit hole, with your metal full of beer, and you do not fulfill your promise, yes we all need a break from days of hard labor, but you cannot speak of integrity when you do not do as you promise.  When you lie to cover your addiction.  When you alter things to pay for your addiction.  When you treat others in a way that is unacceptable because they dare not only to question, but to be angry at your addiction.
You know the expression, thou doth protest too much, a quote I believe from Shakespeare.  When you start hollering and swearing at someone at the drop of a hat over a matter that is small, that the other party in the situation is thinking, yeah I thought so about their own suspicions, rather than acknowledging and accepting those suspicions as being in error.
If it makes it easier for you, continue on.  But I think the universe may be trying to tell you something.
Never trust a drunk for example.
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4 comments on “Addiction/Integrity

  1. I don’t think your dad ever charged anyone for things he did for them. That wasn’t within his radar. Remember him helping Ada and Roy for years and NEVER NEVER asking a thing in return? Even at the end of his life he was brave, considerate and ethical. He faced death with courage and dignity and did everything he could to make his passing easier for us. He truly was a good good man with a drinking problem.

  2. Another comment on this……………….if a client expresses concern about a job you are hired to do………………do you not listen to what they have to say, respectfully. Is it ethical to scream and yell at them………….would YOU have a job if you screamed at your principal or parents because they commented on the job you are doing? Would anyone? Ethics, integrity and respect………….for yourself and others. That’s what it boils down to.

  3. Excellent venting, Meg. I know all too well exactly what you speak of.
    O that word, “Bitch”–is there really a masculine equivalent? Several words come to mind and yet none seems to have the same nasty bashing weight as “bitch”. I consdier it a verabl Weapon used to attempt to cause a woman to silence herself due to the shock and awe of being called a “bitch”. We both know the way to respond to such a weapon–No submission and No silence. And DAMN the “bitch” wielder to their own juices. “Bitch” —Is that the best you can do? Ha!

    Only one person has ever dared to call me that to my face–and they apologized sincerely soon afterwards–and NEVER repeated the verbal act again. My response to the word was what most would now consider totally archaic–something best described along the lines of the Victorian Cut Direct—no words, just a look of utter and deep disdain and then turning away from the miscreant.

    Integrity is such an interesting word. Your post has connected with several of my own musings today.
    Thank you, my dear blog friend.

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