The second installment of the 7 Spins on 7 Sins guest blog series features the sin of Pride. Pride is proclaimed by some to the be the sin from which all of the Seven Deadly Sins arise. Hubris, which it is also known as, is also said to be the gateway through which all other sins enter the moral soul. It is no coincidence that the middle letter of Pride is "i" - preoccupation with the self, the ego. I want to thank Sean Paul Mahoney for his trademark take on this Sin—with humour, humility and great insight. A fantastic writer and friend. Thanks Sean. - PS
“Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” - somebody at a meeting.
I might not remember who said it but I remember it pissed me off. My initial thought upon hearing this back in 2009 was, “Well, I’d like to be both. I’d also like an iced coffee and some new shoes, if we're taking requests.” Like why couldn’t I be right and happy? Why did I have to choose? More than that, doesn’t just being right make me happy? Isn’t the satisfaction of knowing I am right and you are totally, pathetically wrong reward enough? My poor, sweet, newly sober brain didn't quite grasp the idea that I was so filled with pride that it was actually killing me. Me being filled with pride? Surely you’re thinking of someone else. I knew that I hated myself on some level. I mean, no one who does as much cocaine or glugs down as much tequila as I did isn’t exactly nailing the whole love yourself thing. Therefore, if I hated myself there was no way I could be filled with pride, right? I had been to enough gay pride parades to know that just because you marched down the street in glitter high heels and assless chaps it didn’t mean you couldn’t secretly hate yourself. Nevertheless, it became pretty clear that if I wanted to get sober I was going to have wrap my brain around the idea that pride was a serious defect and one that was probably keeping me drunk.
I agreed to write about pride because I love Paul (but for reals—who doesn’t?) and it because it’s something that I might have a teensy problem with. Okay. Maybe a big problem. I have such a problem with pride I’m usually too proud to even it say that out loud. I know. Exhausting. Anyway, as I perused ye olde internet in preparation for this piece, I found all kinds of lists. 10 Ways Pride is Ruining Your Career, 6 Types of Pride You Don’t Want and finally 6 Undeniable Signs Your Pride is Taking Over Your Life. Bingo. That list struck a chord. I winced as I read the numbers: 1. You Find It Difficult To Admit Your Mistakes, 3. You Refuse To Back Off An Argument Even If You Know You’ve Lost 6. You’re Afraid To Say I Don’t Know. Yikes. I’d read enough. Enough to know that yeah pride has at one point or another taken over my life, just like the title had said. Damn you, internet!
When I got sober in 2009, it was after almost two decades of trying to manage the tornado of my using and drinking. My pride kicked in early on as it continually told me, “You don’t need help. You’ve got this. Now, order another shot, you big dummy.” This pride, mixed with a heaping helping of delusion, slowly destroyed my life and drove me to the brink of insanity. I suffered in silence over and over again instead of saying, “Hi. I’m a disaster and could use a little help over here.” Pride had also kept me from asking for what I really wanted: out of jobs, out of relationships, out of myself. This toxic pride wasn’t the kind we think of when we envision a person ridiculously proud of themselves. Instead, it was a pride that had somehow convinced me I wasn’t worthy so why bother asking?
When everything simultaneously hit the fan as I bottomed out, I had to toss pride out the window and ask for help. The first call I made was to my younger brother then my sister and on and on. I was in trouble and out of options. After a lifetime of parroting, “I got this!’ I had to admit I didn’t fucking have it. That entire year was a series of humbling experiences wherein I had to swallow my pride and ask for help over and over again. I also had to constantly say, “I’m wrong” and “I don’t know what I’m doing” and “I’m sorry. I messed up.” This was disappointing for me too. I really did think that I’d stop drinking, I go to a couple of meetings, maybe meet a nice, rich boyfriend and my life would magically come together. Uh. No. Instead, I got dealt a serious health diagnosis that changed my life, I left a decade plus relationship, I crashed on friend’s couches and basically had to rebuild my life from the ground up. And I did all of it sober. Now, this isn’t because I’m amazing. It’s because I had a lot of support. Support I got because I finally told my pride to shut the hell up.
Nearly eight years later, I still have to move pride out of the way. Just a few weeks ago, my beloved grandmother died at 89 years old. Here I was again needing help. I called friends and told them I was hurting. I needed to admit to my husband that I couldn’t do the dishes and that I needed help taking care of our cats. I texted the people who helped me back in 2009 and again asked them to pray for me. I’ve opened my mouth in meetings and cried in front of strangers more than once lately. It’s been a bitch of a month, if I’m totally honest. And that’s the gift right there.
If I was still swallowed up by pride and delusion, I’d be acting like everything was okay and that I didn't need help. Translation: I’d be acting like a crazy person. Life is messy, unglamorous and really sucks a lot of the time. But it sucks even more when I’m a nutjob too filled with pride and low self esteem to even ask for help or think that I deserve help. The truth is when I stop comparing myself to others, when I ask questions when I don't know something and when I even choose to be right instead of being happy, there are genuine, beautiful things just around the corner.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sean Paul Mahoney is a writer, playwright, blogger, tweeter, critic, podcaster and smartass for hire who lives in Denver, Colorado with his husband and two cats. Read new stuff weekly on his blog seanologues.com