Is society prepared to accept us for who we are, for how we fight our fights?
We all live in two worlds, don’t we?
The one labelled: who we are.
And the other one: the way we were.
If someone is poor, then gets rich, they don’t want to talk about poverty. If someone is in jail, then gets free – lives a good life, they don’t want to talk about crime nor herald its merits.
We get proud of ourselves, of our children, of our accomplishments. Proud of our homes, of our job waxing an old car or how we carved that turkey. We are proud of our home teams, proud of our country, of our community, of our friends. We are fans. We are proud – win or lose. Proud, how we did. Proud, how we held our head high in defeat.
Pride is so well understood. We watch Olympics on TV, proudly cheering fellow citizens we’ve never met doing a sport we’ve never done …
We get proud many ways. We show proud, wear proud on our sleeve. On sweatshirts, on mittens – we waive flags, toot horns, in pride.
I’m proud to be an alcoholic.
Did I really write that, say that? Many people know I’m an alcoholic. They know I’ve been sober a very long time. But proud of it?
Yes I am.
Sure, I’d rather I wasn’t, had never been – but I have no control over that.
Proud of who I am today, how I am today – none of which could be possible if I was not first an alcoholic. As one who recovered from that substance having a grip on me. I got out. With my life. I am sober. I am clear.
I was wondering, even today, which label causes more scorn or raised eyebrows in our society: being gay, or being alcoholic?
Being gay is still hidden by many. Alcoholism has been out of the closet for some time. Being gay won’t kill you. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is far worse than deadly – so much collateral damage inflicted on families is incalculable. Alcoholism is probably more complex than heart disease, more elusive than a cancer cure – with more variables than the nuances of an economy.
Being alcoholic – becoming alcoholic, is not easy. Nobody signs up, nobody plans it. Nobody trains for it. Nobody is coached. Whether you believe disease, environment, addiction, DNA or bad behavior is the cause – we can probably all agree it is horrid.
Alcoholism, lives of alcoholics decorated with bad behavior, destruction of relationships, evaporation of money, damage to careers, devastation to families and savaging of bodies, brains and livers … to say nothing of the load on hospitals and health care services, prisons, addiction treatment and dry-out facilities.
Lots of press. Little of it good – an economic cost to and impact on society that makes the Olympics, hurricanes and recessions look small.
So how, if alcoholism is so devastating, could I be proud to be one? I became one, was a practicing one for a few years – then I got sober. Living sober – staying sober have, for me, not been difficult. Lucky me.
For many, never ending battle of hits and misses, wins and losses, gutters and drains ...
But let’s get back to me.
I’m proud of getting sober. Proud to stay that way, not from fear that I couldn’t return to social drinking (who knows, maybe I could?), but from not knowing how things might go – a risk far too high to take. I don’t take it. I’m proud of that.
I’m proud we live in a time when it is OK to talk about it. When my dad got sober (I was five at that time) alcoholism wasn’t OK for talking about. In those days people would avoid you, fire you, discard you or marginalize you … simply for admitting that you had a problem.
Polite society had little to do with alcoholics in those days – people were labelled. Western world’s caste system of sorts. Untouchable pariahs.
Times change. Heads can be held high. Yet so many are not. Hung low, hidden from view, horribly still one of our society’s largest uncured ailments. You know, it’s so easy to talk about cancer, to contribute to finding cures.
Easy to engage in politically correct discussions about heart disease, praising healthy eating and fitnessing our way toward healthier lifestyles.
But talking about booze and its impacts is not high on any political agendas, nor focused on enough by the UN or those lovely philanthropic organizations fixated on curing malaria and rare eye diseases. I don’t quarrel with their efforts, but there seems such insufficient balance in it all …
Most people don’t see being alcoholic as being an accomplishment, or any measure of pride.
I’m a proud alcoholic.
written / published from Calgary, AB
morning walk: 12C/54F, sunny/blue .. oh boy! … so nice to see the sky again without that smoky haze, an average length walk at slow speed – gentle on my ankle and minimal pain, oh boy! ... while golf this afternoon is still doubtful (walking is one thing – but torque from a swing is quite another) I’m thrilled to be on the mend …
Good decision. Some things are worse than being alone, AN, Calgary, AB
Hello Mark. I am not certain how your musings made their way to my work inbox and I am not perseveres ring on that. I have enjoyed getting them, a great of what you write about resonates with me and I suppose resembles me. Even the dog walking which as of two weeks ago I no longer do, as our 17 year old dog had to be put down. Anyway, that is not why I am replying, I am replying to ask if you could send your musings to the email address rather than my work one. I would greatly appreciate that. Thanks in advance, have a great day, LG, Calgary, AB
Re: post marriage singleness - Oh Mark, she will need more than a year, even if she does not know it! ... One year single for every five years of marriage post beak up, DG, Edmonton, AB
Not sure when happiness became the goal for our every day lives. It appears that it is another perfection based disease. Contentment is far more goalable, if you will. Contentment can be achieved in both the wins and losses, successes and failures, of life for we can find contentment in merely living a life's lesson learned. Be content my friend. GW, Bon Wier, Tx.
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