There’s a commercial that played in our local market a couple of years ago that so offended me I actually turned off my radio when I heard the opening doom-music for a minimum of an hour after the commercial aired. The main gist of the ad was that we addicts/alcoholics are “reaching out for help” as younger adults and older children, when we get busted: “When you found my drug paraphernalia, I was screaming for your help”. That was actually one of the lines in the commercial (or something close to it). Now forgive me for not being all “touchy-feely” about this, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The mythical chick in the commercial left her pot pipe out where her parents could find it because she was stupid – we addicts do stupid things, especially when we’re stoned or drunk. We all laugh when comedians say things like, “Of course we’re going to drive drunk… How else are we going to get the f*ckin’ car back to the house”?! (I believe that was Sam Kinison). I hate to tell you folks, but that’s a whole lot closer to the truth than “I got busted because it was a cry for help”. No, the cry for help deal is 100% pure manipulation (at least for drinking and drugs). The reality is that we really don’t give a damn what you think, we just want to get loaded as freely as possible. Sure, we’ll take all of the co-signing, the co-dependent and the touchy-feely bullshit you can come up with, right before we steal your wallet to feed our habit. Go ahead, mom and dad, blame yourself for my being a mess, just do me a favor and pass me that fifth, eh? Hell, I knew folks who were messed up enough to steal your wallet and then help you look for it if they were still in the room when you realized it was gone (another part of a comedy routine that mirrors life very closely, though I can’t remember who).
There is one reason that those commercials are needed. When we drunks and addicts are in the midst of the disease, we are such insufferable, selfish degenerates that it becomes extremely difficult to love us on a human or even spiritual level. The escape from reality becomes so necessary that we don’t care who we mow down to access it and that’s a sad truth, but it is what it is. The “cry for help” angle makes it possible to keep loving us at a time when love and forgiveness is damn near impossible. The truth is that the cry for help comes after we’ve lost everything, at least that’s the way it was with me. Only after the booze stopped working, after I’d used my parents as a door mat for the last time, after they had finally had enough – after the entire State of Michigan deemed it necessary for me to seek treatment, did I finally cry out for help.
If I were to look back, access the kid that I used to be, it would look like this: “Yeah, right, sure I was crying for help – if you’re gullible enough to buy that and it makes your knees go weak with sappy misplaced emotion and most importantly, helps you forgive me for what I’ve done so I can continue doing what I do, unhindered, then that’s exactly what I was doing, calling out for help.
We’ve all heard the quote, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, well that about sums us up to a tee. There’s a popular saying in the circles that I run: You can’t tell a drunk anything until they’re good and ready to hear it. Specifically what that translates to is that until such a time as we’re finally done running from the reality that we just can’t live like that anymore, all of the self-awareness in the world won’t change a thing. I had to be done to be able to hear (that’s why we call it the “bottom”). In other words, I may be calling out for help and you might even be willing to respond, but unless I’m at the end of that rope (preferably with no not to hang onto), giving me the help to climb up won’t do any good, you just give more rope with which to hang on – and therein lies the rub. How do you know if your kid/husband/wife/brother/sister is at the end of that rope? How can you know that this will be the time that they finally get the message.
You don’t. You can’t. All you can do is untie the knot. If you want to see a real commercial about drug/alcohol abuse, this is a good one:
Along that line, about 40 miles from my house, last weekend, a family’s adopted son broke into their home to steal from them in order to feed his drug habit. When the father presented resistance the son beat him to death with a baseball bat. He then went after his mother and his younger brother. Last I heard they’re still in the hospital in critical condition – his mother and little brother. Do you really think he was calling out for help as he was caving his dad’s face in, or is he calling out for help now that he’s in jail – soon to be prison, for the rest of his life. Better yet, how about his friend who drove? He’s facing a murder wrap too, just for driving the nineteen year-old over to the house – do you really think if the robbery had gone off without a hitch, nobody was hurt and the duo had scored for the weekend that, whilst sitting amongst the pile of whatever drug they were into, he’d stop and realize that it was all wrong and call out for help? Nope, the call only comes after there’s no knot to hold onto. I actually heard the driver at his plea hearing on that same radio station a couple of days ago and it broke my heart. His bottom is a lot lower than mine was (good God, is it lower), and to hear the uncontrollable sobbing, that feeling in his voice (because I’ve been there, I know this feeling) that said, “Oh my God, what have I done, what was I a part of – how did it come to this…” Well, we have to sleep in the bed that we make, I only hope that he gets what he needs to straighten up when he makes parole.
So, what does all of this have to do with fitness? I commented in a post the other day that someone recommended caution with exercise because one could become “addicted’ to the release of endorphins. While I suppose this could be possible, though I’ve never seen it, when you consider that I could have been either one of those kids given the right circumstances, the question you have to ask yourself is this: Is that such a bad thing?
We think not. Other than the recovery program that I work on a daily basis, cardiovascular exercise – and thus, the people that I exercise with – is the single best thing that I’ve ever done for the rest of the human race… Simply because I’m not that guy.
This has the possibility of being a very controversial post, it’s built into the topic and can’t be helped. While what I have written may not be your experience, it is mine. Though I have generalized quite a bit, I haven’t experienced a situation in my nineteen years of working with others to help them fix their problem (and thereby mine) that would suggest that I’d left something out. If your experience is different, my apologies. I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.