My dad is one of twelve children…and at least five of those children are alcoholics. The degrees of their alcoholism, and other miscellaneous forms of addiction, vary. Some hold jobs, have families of their own, and lead relatively “normal” lives. There are also those who don’t have jobs, but have the support of their family to comfort them in times of doubt. And then there are others, whose mention begets an eye roll and a heartfelt sigh followed by, “He/She just can’t seem to get it together.”
I’ve struggled with addiction in my own way…and yet, I know very little about what it means to be an addict. I was addicted to things one might consider unconventional…but not unheard of. I won’t go into those details now, though.
Often, we view addicts and alcoholics like we view the mentally ill – we call them sick and say they need help. We lock them away in buildings with cream colored walls in the hope that they will come out several weeks later and be healed and rid of the evil that once inhabited their bodies. We shun them. We disgust them. We think we are better than them.
We don’t understand why they can’t snap out of it. We tell drunks that booze isn’t great. We yell at dope fiends, screaming that drugs will kill them if they’re not careful. We can’t understand why the depressed person can’t just slap on a smile and be “normal”.
We are condescending assholes…and we have no idea what we’re talking about.
I sometimes think that society has it wrong – after all, we view alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill as broken toys that need fixing. But really, are they so wrong? All these people have found the one thing in life that truly makes them happy. Whether it be vodka, heroin, or listening to the voices in their heads – they’ve all discovered the one thing they are willing to die for. The one entity that they would trade their loved ones for. They have truly found bliss.
After all, isn’t that what we’re all searching for? Some of us find happiness in teaching third graders math, others paint beautiful landscapes, or make floral arrangements. But we all have one thing in common, we are in search of what makes us truly happy.
Perhaps we are so jealous that someone can be so happy, that someone’s search for eternal bliss has ended and we are still looking, that we label that person insane and abnormal out of sheer jealousy.