Monday, October 18, 2010

I Watched Addiction Kill Last Week

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I watched addiction kill last week.
It left a young woman husbandless.
It left two middle-school boys fatherless.

He had a disease. He could have gotten treatment. He should have gotten treatment. Last week, in his final week in the hospital, he was willing. He was planning to go to rehab. Unfortunately it was too late. He never got better. His organs shut down, one by one. He went into a coma. And then he died.

Alcoholism turned a once-vibrant man, high school football star, life of the party, successful businessman into a yellow, empty shell.

And no, I don't expect a memorial service to be a 12-Step meeting. But that doesn't mean I have to enjoy the collective denial we labored through.

He was such a great guy.
He was such a good father.
He was such a loving husband.
He really embraced life.
He wouldn't want us to be sad.
Let's watch this slideshow of happy family memories...

Such bullshit.

How about...

He was so very sick.
Many of us helped him to stay sick.
We thought someone else would finally get through to him.
His sickness kept him from seeing reality, from understanding the real cost of his refusal to get help.
His children will suffer with this for decades. 

Addiction killed a 42-year-old man last week. God rest his soul. God heal his family and bring peace, light, hope and recovery.

And may I live in gratitude for the new life I'm finding and in service to those who still suffer. Amen.


Annette said...

So so sad....I had a 37 year old friend who died at almost 400 lbs. Different substance, but addiction none the less. Left behind 2 young girls...6 and 8 at the time. Such tragedy and I so get what you are saying about the rhetoric at the service....the part that hit me, was that we helped these people stay sick. It is such a fine line between gently offering options and letting go and minding one's own business. I don't quite have that one figured out yet.

Charlie O. Edinburgh said...

I know what you mean. I am powerless over other people and their choices. I totally get that.

And yet...

Intervention. There is a time and a place. All we can do it point out what we see and ask them to get help. And I think in situations like this we have to.

Yeah, I wrote about it not too long ago... The idea of working a good program MYSELF and carrying the message of recovery in that way.

I don't think there is a way to figure it out. We just have to live in the tension and try to follow the will of our H.P. day to day.


Grateful for recovery and for a loving God.

Sabilon said...

Hi Charlie,

Thank you for what you wrote. I find your writing very powerful. Maybe it can be published somewhere, in a magazine, newspaper??? It might reach people who need help, as addicts or family/friends of an addict. Am very touched. S.

G. Rabanon said...

I have this conversation with my sponsor not infrequently, because of my mom's addiction. Interventions, he says, generally do not work. He reminds me of this because I have a lot of trouble letting go of the idea that there is something I can do, something I can say, some way in which I can be responsible for or fix my mother's addiction.

I cannot.

The best I can do is to try my best not to be an enabler. The best I can do is to try to keep myself well and stable, and stick with my program and maintain my boundaries. The best I can do is to be loving and caring, not to shield her from the consequences of her addiction, and to pray for her. She has her own path, and it is between her and God whether and when she will become willing.

My mother is not, to my knowledge, in immediate danger of drinking herself to death. She is a functioning alcoholic, getting drunk only at home in the evenings on about a bottle of wine a night, the primary consequences being slurred speech and lack of awareness and coherence, and memory loss. I cannot put myself in the place of the family in question, I only have my own experience which is, it appears, less immediately dire. But the principles are the same.

As for rigorous honesty at the funeral of an addict whose addiction killed them... *sigh* well, that's an interesting question. "Attention must be paid," I suppose. Orson Scott Card in his fiction conceived of The Speaker For The Dead, a person who would speak on behalf of the deceased and describe their life as they tried to live it, seeking not to elicit condemnation or forgiveness, but merely to understand the person as a whole. A whole person is the sum of their assets and flaws, their triumphs and mistakes.

But we... we like to pretend. When the pain of a person's life is over we like to reflect on what was good and pretend to forget what was bad or ugly. We think we do this in the name of dignity and respect. But I... I really don't know.

innerpilgrimage said...


Your entry has both made me very sad for the fact that sometimes rock bottom happens too late and that I have a responsibility to people who are suffering from eating disorders to make it known that OA is available.

The challenge I've found is that in any addiction, one has to watch for the signs of a person who is desperate enough for 12-Step recovery. I mean, people who think they have any other options go that direction--12-Step recovery is the last stop for those of us who know that normal means won't stop our addictions.

Part of Step One keeps coming back to me at this moment: "Powerless over [our addiction]". I am as humbly grateful as you that I found the program when I did. That somehow I touched rock bottom before I died of it. That I am afraid that I haven't touched rock bottom yet for my cigarette addiction.

I'm going to pray to HP today for your friend, who was taken too soon by this vicious and unrelenting disease of the mind, body, and soul . . . then follow up with a prayer for those who are still with us, that they find relief from the bondage of addiction. We all deserve a chance at the first eulogy . . . and for me (and addicts like me), working the steps to the best of one's ability can make that true.

Raggy Rat said...

Amen xxxx