I’m very fond of saying this because I 100% believe it is true. We are all addicted to something. You can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, good grades, attention, tanning, smoking, food and just about everything that makes you feel good for the moment. But at the end of the day we are all the same and we all have monsters on our back. Some are small and harmless and others will eat your soul, but we all have one.
I started my addiction journey younger than most. I always loved the taste of beer and don’t ask me how I knew I liked beer as a child but I did. I would come home from church, grab a Dixie cup and share a beer with Dad while watching sports. What appeared as a harmless bonding time between Father and Daughter turned into decades of self abuse.
I graduated from Dixie cups to sneaking drinks when he wasn’t looking, to stealing full beers, to mixing hard alcohol into Tupperware bowls to drugs. I didn’t stop this pattern of self abuse until I was in my 50’s. I take that back. I did stop the two times I got pregnant. The only thing that I ever truly loved were those two unborn babies, unfortunately once they were born old demons came back.
I’m not going to spend all my time today telling you the sad story of my alcohol journey because truthfully it’s too long for just one blog. But what I am going to explore today is the judgement that society puts on anyone who openly has an addiction. We don’t judge the person at the gym who can’t stop working out the same way we judge a drug addict on the street. We don’t looking down on the person who just spent their last dollar on a new pair of shoes because they can’t stop shopping the same way we look at an alcoholic. There are certain addictions that society has deemed acceptable and there are certain addictions that have been deemed unclean. The unclean ones get all the attention and it’s not good attention. They get the stares, the whispers, they are judged and ridiculed. It’s just not fair.
Let me give you an example. I go to San Fransisco often and you may or may not have heard, but there is large homeless population and open drug use on the streets. This is an example of what I like to call “in you face addiction” We walk by these individuals and think to ourselves “wow, I’m so glad I don’t have that problem.” People turn a blink eye and walk away because that addiction is too ugly and it’s easy to say “that’s their problem” they shouldn’t use drug. You are right, they shouldn’t but we should judge them for their addiction, we should help and be thankful that our monster isn’t that big.
Yes, I know buying too many shoes is vastly different then being homeless, addicted and living on streets. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. What point I’m trying to make is this. We need to stop judging people with addictions because we are not all that different.
It’s so easy to look at someone and cast judgement, because we don’t want to turn that attention inward. If we looked in with the same judgement that we send out to others, maybe we would stop judging so much. It irritates me when I hear people talk down to someone who won’t join in for a drink. I really sends me over the edge when I hear people peer pressure other people into drinking. And last but not least the one that tops all the others is when people ask “do you ever think you will drink again?”. I mean really people, WTF. Would you walk up to a recovering heron addict and ask him if they would every think about jabbing a needle into themselves again?
I’m on this rant today because it irritates me when I speak about my past addiction like it’s not big deal because truthfully it’s not a big deal, And the person that I’m talking to tell’s me I shouldn’t say those negative things about myself. I hate to break this to you folks but my past isn’t negative – it just my past. If I thought my past was negative I would feel shame and that would lead me right back to the bottle. To make things worse these people who say these things have addictions themselves. They are addicted to sugar, they smoke, they can’t stop eating and no one says a thing to them.
So if you are reading this and you have any past addictions that caused real harm to yourself, please do not feel less than perfect. There is no reason for us to feel any shame about our past. The past is exactly that – the past. We all have them. If you currently have harmful addictions, please remember that deserve happiness just as much as the other person. Do let the thought of people judging you stop you from getting help. Just remember, they are going through the same thing you are, just on a smaller scale.