Manipulation is a key survival skill for any practicing drunk. This one included, long ago, thankfully. When I quit being that guy, I had some things to fix, and manipulation of the truth was one of the first things on the chopping block. Of course, even though we sober up, let’s just say some old habits die hard.
Stay with me a second, this is going to get good, I promise.
Let’s check Webster first, on the manipulation deal: b :to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.
I crossed out artful because I run an honest program. Artful, though what we do/did can be manipulated to suggest, our form of manipulation is nothing more than despicable and underhanded. To claim it is “artful” just seems, I don’t know, disgusting. I also crossed out “especially” because, well why bother lying, cheating and manipulating things if we’re not going to benefit? C’mon, man.
So I have a friend, newer in recovery, who struggles a little bit with understanding selfishness. Again, let’s go to Webster:
1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself :seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others
Okay, so this person is suggesting that going through the necessary steps to recover from her alcoholism, because it is a time consuming endeavor, is “selfish”. She also suggests that, because she is exceptionally stressed out and often, going for a one hour bike ride, while her significant other is toiling away at home, to relieve her stress, is also selfish.
On their own merits, a case could be made that she’s got a point. What you don’t know is that she misses her Xanax, prescribed by a “friendly” doctor. Going for a bike ride is just as good as the narcotic and it won’t perpetuate an addict’s disease. How do I know this? Take a wild frickin’ guess. We’re all a little depressed once we give up our drug of escape and taking the time to recover means no more escaping from life by drinking/drugging oneself to oblivion on a nightly basis.
Ah, the artfulness of alcoholic bullshit. Allow me to explain.
The non-horseshit, without the spin of course, answer is that a sober, recovered, productive member of society is so much better to have around the house than a drunk or addict. To attempt to argue otherwise is simply laughable (and yes, I did laugh. out loud).
Then we have the hour-a-day bike ride… It should make perfect sense that a happy, contented, non-stressed-the-fuck-out significant other, four hours a day, would be better than an addicted, medicated grump, five hours a day. At least it should.
Three years ago, when I was cycling a little less than I do today, the story could be manipulated to suggest I was being selfish, no? I was on the road, alone, pounding out my stress on the road while my wife was at home with the kids, for an hour a day and a few more on the weekends. Hold the phone though… this was snapped yesterday evening:
Selfish? My wife and I spend more time together now that we’re cycling together than we ever did at any point in our marriage, with the exception of our honeymoon – and we have a vastly more enjoyable time during that time.
Recovery is no different. The harder I work, within reason, to be a better man, husband and father, the better it is for my family.
In short, this isn’t rocket science, folks…
Now, is my view of the situation a touch harsh? Sure it is, but if you think a person can recover from a hopeless state of mind and body with unicorns and rainbows, you’ve got another thing coming a government job waiting for you.
The point of this post is this: Life’s realities are a lot like statistics. We can make reality look however we choose, depending upon how willing we are to be honest. Manipulating the truth to get our way, to the detriment of those around us is selfish. Working on our character defects to become better people for those around us is most definitely not.