“… at best, nobody will ever take another word you say seriously ever again”.

October 26, 2010

A dialogue from Bugsy, the 1991 movie portraying the life of legendary mobster, Ben Siegel, came to mind today. 

In particular, the dialogue between Siegel, played by Warren Beatty, and Meyer Lansky, played by Ben Kingsley, in which Siegel tells Lansky of his seemingly hair-brained plan to fly to Italy in the midst of World War 2, work his way through elite Italian society to get close to  and assassinate Mussolini. 

Lansky’s response to Siegel was to ask him to promise never bring up this grandiose plan ever again because if he did, “… at best, nobody will ever take another word you say seriously ever again”.

I remember all the grandiose plans I would state to people pre-recovery.  What I was going to do, where I was going to go, who I was going to be.  It was not so much the fantasizing during my drinking, but more the self-deception due to my alcoholic thinking whether drunk or sober.

It was self-deceived because I seldom ever followed through with the stated plans.  My behaviours, in fact, worked completely opposite to my verbalized intentions.  How badly I harmed my credibility in those times.  How sad it was for the people in my life to not be able to believe the words that came out of my mouth.  Yet the saddest part was that I could not even see it.  And truth remained hidden from me largely because some things were indeed working out.  But it must have been largely by fluke because I was not often following through.

One noticeable change for me in recovery is my ability to believe my own words.  This is partly because I less often state things that are unrealistic.  And partly because recovery has taught me to align my words and behaviours so they are moving in the same direction more often than not.

As an ACOA (adult child of an alcoholic), I have also come to grips with the fact that I used to over-commit because I didn’t want to let anyone down.  I was completely unrealistic.  Yet this urealisticness was the very source of me then letting people down.  Weird eh?

Being credible to ourselves and others is an amazing gift of recovery.  We more often are able to say what we do and do what we say.  Nothing more complicated than that.





  1. Hi Chaz. Thanks for your post. I think I set up unrealistic goals because if I quickly convinced people I would never meet expectations, mine or theirs, we would all expecting anything from me. No expectations meant no pressure. Setting realistic goals and living with the pressure of people knowing what I expect from myself is still incredibly difficult. I remind myself I really do have a choice, and I can crap out. But, hey, I know what that life’s about. Walking down a new street now one terrified step at a time. All the best.

    • Yes Piper…. that internal dialogue that tells us how we are measured can be tiresome and unrelenting. And dancing around the approval of others can become quite complex. To the point were we design our dance to pre-disappoint ourselves or others. We dont necessarily like it, but we find comfort in its familiarity.

      I am sure we would all be amazed at how many people walk down the road of their lives one terrified step at a time. People we think have it all together.

      Life is so much easier when the only comparing we do is to who we were yesterday instead of how everyone else (we think) is doing and what they think of us.

      Thanks for the reply.



  2. Right on! I respect that. I certainly prefer being with people who can keep their work & be real. I always say to a friend who people-pleases & then disappoints: “Bird in the hand!” as a reminder to not promise what he can’t do.

    But then I’m one of those ACoAs who has always done what I said I would & get so angry when others don’t (It’s the curse of the Hero role!)

    So – I had to teach the kid to lower her expectations of others – to align with reality – & also to not be so ‘good’ myself. It took a while, but it has been a relief over the yrs. Maybe it’s just getting old – I don’t have the energy to try as hard! lol

    • Hey Donna… I am the same way in that I find myself often intolerant of those not as dedicated to their word as I am.

      For those of us prone that way, I think we would be wise to be on guard for unhealthy pride finding a foothold and expressing itself in arrogance over how much we value our word versus what others do.

      If we were truly humble, we would not need others to keep their word for us to be happy. Should we not be content knowing that we are living true to self and doing what we feel is right before God? Should anyone else’s validation matter?

      Yet that unrecovered side of ourselves can try to re-fortify the stronghold of our ego in this, and a hundred other sneaky ways.

      I am so glad I can turn it over to God to show me how to grow. If left to me alone, I would make a royal mess of it.

      Thanks for the reply.



  3. I agree with what you just wrote, but that’s not where I was coming from. ”
    All Roads Lead to Abandonment” – when others don’t keep their word it means I can’t rely on them & that touches a very old would – & there’s nothing wrong with wanting other to be dependable. Your post stressed the ‘rightness’ of being reliable & trustworthy.
    I am naturally caring & responsible – overly so. I don’t want to disappoint others the way I have been so often. It’s more empathy than pride.

    • I can see what you are saying Donna. I suppose I am seeing the pride part of the motive duality of reliability. Maybe this example will show where I am coming from.

      For example, I make a very, very determined effort to keep my word to my step kids. Laregley because they currently cannot rely on their father who breaks his commitments continuously with lateness, last-minute cancellations, and plans that are considerably different than what he tells they they will be.

      When I see their faces after a let down, I go into quick recall mode of the disappointments I felt as a pre-teen. So this, I believe would be the empathy part of the motive to maintain commitments.

      Then, in other circumstances such as when my same step kids say they will do a particular household chore, but don’t do it and instead vegitate in front of the TV, I often then feel a sense of angry pride in knowing I keep my commitments more than others do. This, to me is an unhealthy motive. I can feel myself making a quiet comparison and I come out as the more noble one in this respect. This is not who I want to be and not how I want to operate.

      Feeling a sense of disappointment when someone lets us down, I feel is natural and healthy. Feeling a sense of superiority is not.

      Just because I sense the balance of this duality in me, does not mean it exists the same for others. Didnt mean to project onto you.

      Thanks for the reply.

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