What does AA’s “principles before personalities” really mean? It means we practice honesty, humility, compassion, tolerance, and patience with everyone, whether we like them or not. Putting principles before personalities teaches us to treat everyone equally.
Just for Today (Revised) – pg. 311
I went and picked up my 1959 Shasta camper from my friend’s barn today. I say mine but I perpetually think of it as “Our” even though there is no “Our” or “Us” and hasn’t been in nearly nine months.
We bought it on C’s birthday in 2017 for Us to use. We had plans for it. That was just about a year ago.
Here is the problem I am currently having.
I’m irritated as shit that C won’t even have a conversation with me about the things she still has that I brought to the relationship or bought for myself that she won’t return – my power tools, vintage clocks, art, and a few other things.
I’m annoyed as hell about how she won’t have a discussion about the things we purchased together that she feels entitled to keep without even a conversation.
It’s heartbreaking after seven years there is no adulting…maybe as my doctor alluded too, there may have never been as much adulting in that relationship as I thought.
Is that all on me?
Anyway, I’m angry at her selfish entitlement to take whatever she wants. Not because it is hers but because she is vengeful and is angry with me. She can fuck 50 boys, keep everything, delete our history, deny the truth of our Power together, and never speak to me again but the truth is it might make me jealous and angry but it hurts her far more than me.
As such, when I describe C as an entitled little brat this is another example. She is being a bitch…and not the good “empowered” kind.
I’ve tried to take the high ground from the beginning with her. I’ve paid for things when I didn’t have to pay for them, I’ve returned things that are clearly hers I’ve found in the van or in storage. I’ve sent money. Offered to pay for her doctor.
For example, I found unopened mail from C’s sister in the van last week. I returned it. I found an external hard drive holding images of her art in storage a few weeks ago and I returned it. I did it because it is the best thing to do. I asked for nothing in return. I did not put any love notes in them. I simply said, “I found this. It’s yours. I’m returning it.”
I could have pitched these things and she would never have known but I have to face myself in the mirror. Just because I screwed up in one area is not permission to screw up in every area.
I haven’t crashed her home or her work. I don’t spread rumors or lies about her. I haven’t tried to force her into a conversation. They may not like my writing but I’ve never lied or forced anyone to read it…and up until Warren and others started their social justice crusade, it was largely anonymous.
I see these actions as taking responsibility and what a person with integrity does. And contrary to the story of my betrayals et al, I do have integrity, principles, and a sense of honor. It doesn’t matter what C or anyone else thinks of those actions. Those are part of making direct and indirect amends.
It’s part of adulting.
Which brings me back to the camper.
C willingly gave me the camper to take. I asked for the camper because I knew she would sell it immediately. At the time I was thinking we would talk – maybe reconcile – and I wanted to protect the camper that was so important to her from the wrath of her anger and vengeance. She can be impulsive and vindictive.
To my point, about a month after C asked me to leave she called A, the woman storing the camper from me, and tried to get it back.
Apparently, the conversation didn’t go well.
It sounds like C was trying to recruit pity and girl power anger from A and get her on Team C. A is a no-nonsense woman and a friend, and told C she was being a bitch and should grow up. She told C to talk to me instead of spreading rumors about me. At least, that is what I was told by a very pissed off A that wanted me to explain why C was calling her and inserting information that didn’t involve her. As A said to me, “It is none of my business. You didn’t cheat on me.” She also called C a “bitch”.
C immediately accused me of recruiting people against her and spreading rumors. She blocked A on all social media…and anyone else that has told her to grow up and talk to me.
It was all bullshit of course. I’ve never done any of the things she accused me of doing.
I was baffled and angry C was including people well outside of Our circle of friends in the drama. I didn’t have a good explanation at the time as to why.
Although, now I do.
However, now I’m left holding a camper probably worth $5,000 or $6,000. A camper we bought for “Us” on her birthday for less than a $1000.
However, she won’t talk to me so I can do whatever I want with it.
The highroad tells me it is still “ours” and whatever I choose to do with it should include her input. Stupid high road.
Now, outside my desire to roll it into a field and set it ablaze or pitch eggs at it, principle above personalities says it is still “Ours”. Taking something that meant so much to both of Us, and selling it out of spite or greed or keeping it, would be petty and selfish.
I’m dead to her which is why whenever I have tried to reach out to her she freaks out. After all, dead people tell no lies. Or maybe she doesn’t freak out. Maybe she just gets pissed. I have no fucking idea.
Anyhow, as I’ve been reminded over and over, doing the principled thing can also look like narcissism if that is the trouble you want to borrow.
Let me clarify.
The narcissist handbook says that the narcissist will show up at some time with a big gift (usually money or a big ticket item) and try to buy goodwill. Meaning, if I show up with the camper and return it or because I don’t want it, the Flying Monkey’s will leverage that as an “Ah HA! See he’s trying to maintain control and show what a great guy he is! It’s a trap!”
If I keep the camper to use or sell it then I’m being a selfish narcissistic prick only thinking of myself. And C – and the vara – will continue to say, “See, S only thinks of himself! He bought that for C for her birthday and then he took it!”
C and her Flying Monkeys already think I’m a narcissist so it doesn’t matter what I do with the trailer. Everything I do will be twisted by confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. Pain-driven self-serving thinking processes I know entirely too much about.
Several of my friends have said, “To hell with her! It’s yours! You deserve it!” Or some variation…but I don’t deserve it. I also don’t deserve the silent treatment or the rumormongering but if we all got what we deserved there’d be more raises, orgasms, and ice cream.
I’m also not entitled to the camper either but neither is C. It was (is?) Ours.
The bottom line?
No matter what I do with the camper someone is going to twist my actions – without talking to me – as either part of a narcissistic trap or naive romanticism.
However, the only opinions on the matter that matter are mine and C’s. And at this point, I think we can all divine C’s current opinion. And yet, knowing all this, I’m faced with the same issue.
So where does that leave me?
It leaves me in the same exact spot: I have a 1959 Shasta Airflyte and no information from C. I’m left to guess.
My fallback position has always been principles above personalities – even when I don’t do a great job applying it to my life.
My Doc has consistently reminded me that the heart never lies because it comes from a place of our true selves. We ignore it at our own peril hiding in pussy, alcohol, food, gambling, sports, money, and a thousand other types of self-betrayal. Avoiding the intimacy my heart demanded in order to fully love C is why I lived out of the van for seven months. It is why I ran from her, hiding in the past, instead of towards her and living in the future.
So yes, to answer Brene Brown’s question, you can love someone and betray them too.
Therefore, I’m going to wash the camper, paint it and rewire it over the next few weeks. It needs some tweaks and TLC, but so do I, so this will be good practice.
Once it is ready to go, I have at least seven options:
- Sell it to C for a price
- Give it to C
- I can sell it and give her half the money less any expenses
- I can keep it and buy it from her for a price
- I can move to a warmer climate for the winter and live in a campground
- Store it in the garage again until I’m more ready or
- I can roll it into a field, pelt it with eggs, and set it ablaze
At the end of my life I still want to be able to look in the mirror and know that, although I made a mess of many things, I also made the best of others and acted on my values and principles. Some people will have an ill-informed opinion about my motives.
Some people can fuck off.
The camper is “Our” camper. I will act accordingly.