One of my best and oldest friends recently got married and I had the honor of serving as one of his groomsmen. Sadly, on the night of his rehearsal dinner I exhibited behavior reminiscent of my pre-recovery days. It was shameful, dishonorable, and disgraceful, and it prompted one of the other guys to bring up two painful names I was labeled with in college and with which I’ve come to identify myself over the years.
Some quick background information: As an undergraduate I had two nicknames: “Wigout” and “Scumbag Steve”. “Wigout” was a reference to my mercurial temper (which, looking back, I now recognize as a byproduct of my addiction). “Scumbag Steve” was a reference to the shady, douchebag-esque attitude with which I treated women.
On the day of my friend’s wedding, as the other groomsmen and I were getting ready for the ceremony, the subject of my behavior at the bar the previous night came up. One of the other guys pointedly asked me, “Which name would you rather have people call you: Wigout or Scumbag Steve?”
What, I can’t choose “None of the above”?
Since that day I’ve reflected on just how far I’ve fallen. Not only did I earn these nicknames in college, but I have lived so true to form since college that my friends remember these nicknames more than a decade later. As much as I am ashamed of these names, I have to admit they are excellent summations of those things which I hate most about myself but which I cannot seem to break from. God knows I’ve tried, but maybe that’s just who I am. I’ve tried being the “good guy” but that doesn’t seem to stick. I’m like the villain in a movie who tries to break character and go off-script, who tries to be the hero for a change but who is fated to return to the core of who he is. Yes, this is just like the Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph; unfortunately I’m not a character in a children’s movie.
I wish I could help other people avoid this fate. Maybe in reading this someone will avoid making choices they will regret. Just remember: There are some things you cannot undo; there are some things you can’t “un-see”.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)
I’m curious: Which name would you choose?