Since my husband started AA and I, Al-Anon, I’ve been paying more attention to published articles and social media posts about alcoholism. While I find some solace in reading the experiences of others in similar situations, I’ve had a difficult time digesting the negative comments, misconceptions, and pure ignorance about alcoholism. The Washington Post recently published this article written by a recovering alcoholic. It is the retelling of the author’s spiral into the depths of the disease.
While some of the response was supportive, a large amount of comments was condescending, judgmental, and negative. People cried white privilege, like the disease was somehow a joke because the guy had money and was not considered a minority. Diseases don’t discriminate, but we sure do. Others wrote it off, saying the story was simply about a spoiled rich kid who drank a lot, like every other college kid. No recognition of where the author’s heavy drinking turned into drinking at all costs: addiction.
Negative commenters could not see the value in the retelling of the story. I doubt many of them them are honest with themselves about their own difficult times. Some of them referred to prior bad experiences with alcoholics and were not yet open to the possibility that some alcoholics actually do maintain sobriety. Then there were those of the quick judgments: the holier-than-thou armchair warriors who surely have never done a shameful thing in their lives.
Think about your darkest story or secret: would you be able to share that with another person, let alone with a larger group? Have you even taken responsibility for your part in that story? No matter what, it takes courage to share personal stories of failure and times when you caused pain to others. Stories need to be shared not just for self improvement and self cleansing, but also in hope that they might reach others who are struggling and encourage those people to find help.
I need to work on letting the negativity go and not become my own. It’s hard to not feel protective of the community that has made us feel welcome and supported. God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I’m having trouble with that one. Amen.