Reading someone’s post today made me think about myself.  I have in many situations regularly considered myself a fraud.  In my work very often I believe I have no ability, enthusiasm or skill to tackle the problem in hand and that I “bumble through”.  I have at times worried heavily that someone will say to me one day “Right we’ve got you sussed you are a waste of space clear off”.  It has never happened.  Often I walk into reviews worried this will be the time and walk out often confused that I’ve received praise on the most part not criticism.  Apparently this is not an uncommon concern, esp in academic and professional circles it is call The Imposter Syndrome.

I’ve also felt it in regards to my music and guitar playing – I think of all the things I can’t play rather than the repertoire I can and therefore consider myself a failure not a success where as no doubt there are people out there who can play just one tune and revel in that achievement.

But to the nub of the matter.  I can at times feel a fraud in my recovery.  I use AA as regulars will know.  That has worked for me, if anything why fix something that ain’t broke, if going to AA meetings has for 10 years meant I’ve not picked up a drink why would I stop going to AA meetings?  Because I don’t do it right.  I don’t do it like they do.  My vision of my higher power is not the same as anyone else’s.  My attempts at the steps has been inconsistent, less structured than many and therefore less worthy.  All this negative stuff can take over if I let it.  So I have to refocus with a set of questions…

“Am I sober today?” – Yes – therefore SUCCESS!!! (Frankly does anything else matter for an alcoholic?)
“Do I have a desire to stop drinking?” Yes – I’ve stopped and have a deep desire to stay stopped
“Am I identifying with the sharing I hear in AA meetings?”  Yes – therefore why shouldn’t you be there
“Is being at AA meetings harming me or others?” – No – other than my wife no doubt is sometimes annoyed when I have regular meeting with service, AA intergroup meeting I have to attend and a speaker invite to another meeting all in one week.  But hopefully for one busy week she can see the reward etc. over a longer period of time.

Sometimes therefore I decide to stop questioning and keep walking the right direction will appear when and if it is needed not me waiting the wrong side of the hill before the sign post.

About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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5 Responses to Fraud

  1. Love this Graham – I have always beat myself over the head with a boot about “doing it right”. My friend calls me “scrupulous” in that regard – and not in a good way. I have to do the same, Graham. I don’t have a homegroup per se, I have never had a commitment (oh no! I have never made coffee at a meeting!) and have only attended 2 business meetings. SHAME on me, right? I still struggle with this, but like you, I have to take a view – am I sober? yes. Do I have the compulsion to drink taken away? Yes. Am I of service in other ways? Yes. Am I content in my skin? Yes. Sooooo….what’s the problem again?? lol

    Great post – can totally identify.

    You’re doing fantastic, mate.


  2. Boy Oh boy, does this post ring some bells for me. I’ve always felt I was overly aware of what I don’t know vs what (very little) I do know. It took me years to realize that it wasn’t that I’d missed the boat on how to do life while everyone else got on fine but rather that we all struggle to some degree to make our path in the world. Realizing this alleviated some of the shame I tend to carry around.

    I really like how you reframed the negative and I’ll have to remember that the next time I am beating myself up about something, which will probably happen in 5, 4, 3, 2…

  3. daisyfae says:

    Very familiar with “The Imposter Syndrome” professionally… and on occasion, especially when others come to me for support and advice, i feel it in my personal life as well. As in “i’m a mess!??!? Why are you asking me for help?!” Your determination to stay sober is what has truly made it work – the AA connection is the tool you have used effectively to accomplish that.

  4. looby says:

    I had a strong sense of being an imposter and a fraud every single day of my short-lived and aborted academic non-career. “I’m just not bright enough for this,” I used to think. I used to think that the university was humouring me, to be kind. It’s quite debilitating and very difficult to shake off. I immediately disowned my MA and have never been even to collect it from the department.

    • furtheron says:

      Funny – you have what I don’t have actual letters after your name. I work for one of the largest research universities in the country in a position of some responsibility and there is me with only a crappy diploma from a local college never ever graduated with anything, never set foot in a uni until my son went to one. Odd my chip on the shoulder is because I can’t point to what you shun… isn’t that an interesting observation of two different takes on the same problem

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