death by stigma: when others kill for the stranger
In order for a man to truly keep a secret, he must first keep it from himself.
– Mark Twain
I suffered two massive hemorrhages, causing fatal bleeding and a trip via helicopter to a hospital’s Shock-Trauma center. Miraculously I’m alive.
I’m a recovering alcoholic. In the aftermath of this horrific medical trauma and near-death experience, I want to-
I NEED to talk with you about the Stigma of alcoholism.
The American Medical Association has classified Alcoholism as a disease. Chronic, progressive and fatal if untreated.
The following excerpts from my book speak directly of my encounter with alcoholism’s stigma. The book is a true story, a nonfiction memoir of my appalling journey with alcoholism.
Please, help save somebody‘s life today and invest a moment of your time to read this.
Bound And Gagged
I’m possessed by a story I can’t tell. The public stigma of alcoholism stapled my upper and lower lips together a long time ago, with my first drink. I can never share with another person the crushing burden of alcoholism I carry. That would require another human being know my secret.
Who could I share it with?
Who would to care enough about me to help me?
Who is completely devoid of bias from the stigma of alcoholism?
More importantly, who can prevent this deadly stigma from blocking my basic human needs drives for survival?
For all of us, these include: Provisions for living, sex, a sense of belonging in social relationships, and ultimately our human need for meaning and value in life. For everyone, that means income and stability in employment, and healthy relationships based on mutual trust and respect with family, friends and a life mate.
Who? My family and friends? No.
Many of them voice the demeaning biases of the stigma themselves. Besides, they can’t help me. Worse yet, they can’t protect my livelihood.
My employer? Absolutely not. That puts my job seriously at risk.
My wife? Fuck no. She’s been my enabler and doesn’t want our family to suffer my potential loss of employment either.
The medical community or civil authorities? Fuck. Me. No. I’m not sure I can rip my lips apart from the rusty, heavy gauge stigma-staples crusted over with dried blood anyway. They’ve been in place for years.
The consequences of blindly disclosing and ignoring alcoholism’s powerful and crushing stigma often include; exile from normal society, loss of the ability to earn a decent living, and scornful, judgmental glances and looks from the world, which rips a man’s value and self-worth from his soul, day after day.
Either choice results in the loss of my life anyway. That only leaves drinking, keeping it a secret and lying about it. Why not be drunk on my way to an early grave?
Don’t Be an Accomplice to Murder.
As an alcoholic, secrets and deceit are central to my existence. Alcoholism, The Stranger, demanded that at our first meeting. My reaction to stigma, the voice inside my head which says, “What are people going to say about me? What are they going to do?” is Him, trying to murder me. I reveal little of anything of myself for decades, right unto the end.
This is the Real Curse of Alcoholism.
The real curse of alcoholism is not the fatal nature of the disease. Though profoundly traumatic and inevitable, alcohol itself is a slow acting poison. The curse is the alcoholics inability to tell the truth to someone about their alcoholism. To do so they would have to overcome the horrific shame and the vicious omnipresent stigma of alcoholism.
Even if the alcoholic manages to summon the unimaginable courage to do so, the alcoholic is then doomed to never truly belong. Nobody really wants them as a confidante, or a life-partner once they expose their utter depravity, the sickening truth of who they are. They can never be made clean; their losses are irrecoverable.
The real curse of alcoholism is rooted in STIGMA.
All I have left is keeping myself and my deceit safe. There’s a saying amongst alcoholics, “Your secrets will keep you sick.” No shit, Sherlock.
But not for long. There’s no illness in the cemetery.
I hope and trust that you can be counted on to help erase or at least mitigate the crippling and lethal effects of the stigma of alcoholism with me. For those of you who choose to validate this ignorant stigma and maintain and/or propagate biases and prejudices about the nature of alcoholism, you’re sicker than I am.
Sure, I killed myself. But I never had a part in the murder of other people.
Don’t be an accomplice. If you know someone who is suffering (and based on the numbers, you absolutely do) please send them to the Resources page or even my Blog if they need a good chuckle at my expense. Let them know they aren’t alone, they don’t need to be suffering in silence. Send me an email, a Facebook message, a Tweet; I respond to every single one I see.
It’s worth mentioning my book is coming out pretty soon here on July 10. You can click here to read more about it on my book page or scroll down to watch my book trailer. This book details my own attempted murder, living a lie, becoming an expert at concealing sudden eruptions of a bleeding stomach, and other unflattering aspects of this murderous thing. Like they say, “your secrets keep you sick” and I was sick for a very long time.