March 27th, 2022
Another high-profile musician passes away; another round of the internet mob with their opinions to share.
During times like these, I feel it’s important that people suffering with and recovering from addiction use their voices, and with that, I raise my hand and walk up to the front of the classroom.
The comments tend to range from things like “what a waste” to the truly heartless “what a selfish, stupid man.” As a formerly wasted, selfish, stupid man, I relate.
The internet lacks general empathy. Nobody questions that. But what it really seems to lack is the understanding that no one person will ever completely understand another. Every single one of us have a singular experience that nobody will ever be able to fully share.
But we can get close.
So while someone will say of a man “what a waste,” I look at him and say “he was probably just doing the best he could.”
It is hard, especially, for an addict or anybody who questions their worth to stand up for themselves. It is very hard for me to stand up for myself in a meaningful and constructive way. For most of my life, I would get very angry or very sad, and when I felt that way, drinking was a way I would cope. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out well.
But I found other ways, and to walk those paths took a lot of work. The kind of work that not everyone can bear. I can stand up for myself better now, but even now, doing so takes a huge emotional toll on me.
It’s hard, but I am doing the best I can.
The guy in this picture, just over four years ago, was doing the best he could, and he looks like a piece of shit.
Initially, I overcorrected and saw a world ready to be saved. Pretty quickly, though, I had to adjust how I approached others who were still struggling the way I had. I learned that I have empathy but not sympathy for a person whose life is unmanageable.
Which means I feel you, but I don’t feel sorry for you.
I understand, but I can’t excuse.
All the while remembering that everyone is only doing the best they possibly can.