There once was a cartoon character that used to really get under my skin back in the day when I watched the show he was in. His name was Wimpy and he used to be on this cartoon called Popeye. He constantly said this totally annoying phrase that went as follows: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!” The worst part about this phrase was that everyone kept falling for it, time and time and time again, even though Wimpy rarely ever paid up! AARGH!
Why does this bother me so much? Because I’ve had far too many friends throughout my life who were just like Wimpy, who’d want something up front and always offer promises to repay the debt at some later date, only to never repay, unless you hounded them repeatedly, and even then, it still wasn’t a guarantee you’d ever see it get repaid.
Throughout my life in recovery from addiction, I’ve come to see this is very much of a regular character defect of those who are either deep in the throngs of some addiction or are sober but haven’t worked their 12 Step recovery programs well enough yet to see they’re still doing it.
Has any of the following “Wimpy-like” statements ever been said to you, where the debt was never repaid?
“If you can give me a ride to my appointment, I’ll give you a few bucks for gas (and/or) take you to lunch.”
“Could you spot me $10 bucks for some food, and I’ll pay you back when I get my next paycheck?”
“Do you think there’s any way you could buy me a coffee (or my meal) and I’ll get the next one the next time we go out?”
“I really need to get this bill paid, but I don’t have the money to cover it right now. Is there any way you could cover it for me and I’ll pay you back and even give you a little extra in a week or so when I get some more money?
“Is there anyone who can spot me for “this” and I’ll make sure I have the money to pay you back the next time I see you?”
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve fallen for these types of requests from a number of “Wimpy’s” in the world, where the debt was never repaid, where accountability and integrity were grossly lacking.
Accountability and integrity are big with me today. I set healthy boundaries now because I’ve seen how spiritually toxic it is to support this Wimpy type of behavior, both for the person doing it, and for myself.
This doesn’t mean I don’t help out someone anymore when they ask for something with a promise to repay the debt a little later, because I have. But I approach it far differently now. Sometimes I just give what’s being asked for as a gift when I know the person truly has a serious need and has done everything they can to rectify their situation themselves and are still coming up short. Other times, I give it as a gift simply because I feel my Spirit move me to do so. Occasionally though, I do take someone at their word, and provide what they’re asking for, typically if I don’t know them, just to give them the chance to become a person of accountability and integrity.
These type of qualities are so important to me today. I’ve worked hard in my own life to keep my promises because there was a time when this addict definitely was very much like Wimpy, making many promises for things that I received, never to repay those promises, always hoping they’d forget my debt.
But let me tell you, most people don’t forget. They might tell you they do, but they truly don’t. They simply overlook it for a time, that is until one too many failed promises to “pay on Tuesday for a hamburger today” end up making the person resentful enough to cut the other from their life. Sometimes though, that resentment arises in another way, when you see the person spending money on things for themselves that aren’t necessities while you continue to wait for their debt to be repaid.
I don’t ever let it get this far anymore. I simply give a person ONE chance to remain accountable and live in integrity with me. If I have to ask repeatedly for their debt to be repaid, I know I can’t trust the person to be accountable and in integrity and I don’t help them out anymore. While this doesn’t mean I don’t remain their friend, I just don’t give them “any more hamburgers”, because in doing so, I’ll only eventually become resentful at their lack of accountability and integrity.
Nevertheless, I’ve done what I can in my own recovering life from addiction to go back and repay all my debts because that indeed is a very important step to a healthy recovery. Thankfully, I don’t see myself as Wimpy anymore and neither do those around me. I’m not a mooch, I’m not a user and I pray I never am again. But, for all those out there who might still be acting like Wimpy, hopefully one day you’ll see the toxicity of this behavior and do everything you can to eradicate it from your life. Because I can promise you that when you do, your friends and loved ones will respect you far more, and you’ll feel far better about yourself as well…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson