There is a stigma that engulfs alcoholics, with good reason.
We get drunk, get behind the wheel, and slam into busses full of nuns who were transporting puppies to needy children… Worse, because we’re hammered and loose, we usually survive accidents like that. In fact, put that way one can understand a little anger, no?
For those of us, the majority, who manage to avoid the fatal crash (one can hardly call it an ‘accident’), we have general idiotic behavior. There’s the gang bangers, thieves, liars, manipulators… There’s a veritable trainload of debauchery tied to the abuse of mood and mind-altering substances. All of which tears at the fabric of society and runs through families like a tornado.
There is a growing movement in the recovering community aimed at giving us recovering folk coverage as “victims”. They disguise this by using the word ‘stigma’. The question is often posed, “What kind of stigma have you faced as a recovering alcoholic?” Going by the Google dictionary, “1. a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”
To me, the question is preposterous on its face. To react positively to that question, or even to treat it as a legitimate question, rivals petulant university children whining about ‘safe spaces’ while completely missing the fact that bigots used to reserve the back of the bus as a ‘safe space’.
Allow me to explain, please. As a recovering drunk, “I do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”. I also don’t try to escape what I did, attempt to hide from what I did, or try to water down the wreckage I left in my wake…. I may not be that person now but I’m only a drunk away from raising that slubberdegullion from the dead. In other words, that loser is still in there, all I need do is add alcohol (or any form of drug) to wake him up.
Now here’s where this gets fun, because once I accept that I am a victim, I am bound to being a victim forever – and once you’re a victim, they’ve got you. You’ll always need “them” to look out for your protection. Now this may be a little difficult to grasp at first because I’m not a politician and I really don’t have the golden keyboard through which to articulate this – but I’ll try.
I learned early on, and thankfully was paying attention, that someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business. This is pure freedom but there’s a price for that freedom. I must constantly evaluate who I am so that I may be of maximum value to my fellows. Otherwise, I’m simply an @$$hole who runs on self-will… or, in other terms, I’m dry as a popcorn fart – or a dry drunk. In other words, I’m no good if I simply stop drinking – I have to fix the person I drank to escape being.
If you’re with me so far, once I’ve fixed that guy, the stigma can no longer be applied to me. See, if we look at that “stigma” as if it were a label; In order for someone to label me, I have to be willing to wear the label.
Now, here’s where we get to play with matches. Say someone were to blurt out, “All recovering alcoholics are losers because they can’t hold their liquor”. This would be a part of that “stigma”. I’ve worked pretty hard on being a better me. I’ve changed a lot of things that were broken in me. I’ve righted every wrong I’ve ever done (it is part of the process of “working the steps” to make amends for all of our misdeeds). I’ve worked on being of maximum use to my fellows and on being a good-natured person. I’ve gone from being a lousy pizza delivery guy to a successful business owner. I know, for a fact, that I am not a loser – in any sense of the word and therefore I don’t wear that stigma and I can conclude that anyone who says all ex-drunks are losers, is clearly stupid. I feel pity for their ignorance.
In other words, I am free. At long last. I am only susceptible to wearing a label when I pin it on my lapel. Just a thought to chew on.