There is a pit deep in the chest of every addict.
While we are born with it –we honestly can’t help it, despite some jaded thoughts to the contrary– and don’t own the blame for that bit, we expand its depth and breadth with every pull off a bottle, with every push, pop or snort of something that checks us out of ourselves and into the quiet shade of oblivion, no matter how brief. That part we own. That part we grieve, because yes, we know we did that to ourselves. With our grief comes punishment.
Addicts are notorious self-punishers. We don’t need your help with that at all.
If you think for even one second that there is not immense guilt and shame for the alcoholic, for the junkie, for the spun-out and diseased and tired human being that seeks solace from an over-arching sense of awareness about the world, then you have bought into a very hurtful lie. Don’t look now, but carting around that lie (and worse, braying about it loudly) damages your credibility as a human.
It’s the same credibility that you brandish like a weapon when condemning the unrecovered, the seemingly unrepentant, the lost and disheveled mess of humanity that exists at times only to prop up a disease.
Yes, it absolutely is that dramatic. We tumble ass-over-teakettle, we get back up. We try not to tumble again. Some of us are better at balance than others. For some of us it’s not a matter of balance, but of leaning so far into recovery so as to create a hedge against stumbling in the first place. There are those of us whose arms are forever pinwheeling, whose habit it is to end up face-down and skinned up over and over again. If you are close enough to someone to be able to do so, watching the element of try in any of these situations is inspiring and terrifying and heartbreaking in turns.
It’s hard to convey with words, and even harder to experience. No, you don’t have to understand. What you do have to do is not make it worse.
If not making it worse means not remarking on things you don’t understand, then you need to fall silent until you do understand, are trying to understand, or your voice is called for. If you don’t understand and don’t want to understand, then at least be graceful enough to shut the fuck up.
Consider shutting the fuck up for this, if no other reason: You are taking a chunk out of someone in recovery every time you level snide remarks at and condemnation on someone who couldn’t get it half-assed together and keep it that way for any length of time. You can’t imagine the type of hypervigilance it takes to walk the line if you weren’t born with that pit in your chest. You simply can’t, no bones about it, and you don’t have a right to steal the dignity of someone’s sobriety.
The pit in my chest is big enough, thanks. As evidenced by my track record, I can furrow it deeper and wider (with great aplomb! verve! determination!) all on my own. I don’t need your kind of ‘help,’ judgmental jackasses of the world.
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This man was one of the greatest talents of Generation X.
I sure am sorry he’s gone.