Episode Two: “A-STIGMA-TISM”
Wonderful warm summer nights have blossomed here in Maryland. Sitting on my back deck with pen in hand, I’m enjoying the embrace of nature at dusk. An enchanting sonata of orchestral birds chirping goodnight provides the perfect backdrop for reflection.
This final edit of my manuscript is my last shot to ensure my book, I Almost Murdered a Complete Stranger: Embarrassing Truths of a Madman’s Journey is of value to others. My hope is some piece of the traumatic personal experience along my journey to death serves as a catalyst for somebody’s recovery.
Everybody wants to add value to others and be valued by them.
It’s peaceful. Nature’s meditation music has slowly transformed into a baritone symphony of nocturnal frogs letting the world know they’re alive and croaking.
One infinitesimally small insect vaporizes my serenity in a way that couldn’t possibly be more annoying: an incessant, flying buzz-bomb maneuver. It’s in an erratic orbit around my head with its closest two points a millimeter from my eardrums.
There’s no time for OFF or any insect repellant bullshit.
This puny electric vibrasquito must die at my hands immediately. Mano-Insecto combat is called for. It’s persistent orbiting of my cranium gives me a fix on its speed and location.
Both hands locked and loaded in unison.
Bzzz-Bzzz. DEATH CLAP. BzzB. Bz.
The bastard tried to double back, but I imploded its exoskeleton with my patented double bitch-slap maneuver before it could wuss out of battle.
That settles that.
What the-? Now that the sun’s set there’s thousands of them out here. They’re everywhere! Be afraid. Be very afraid…
LEGIONS OF TINY PRICKS
This (sadly true) backdrop sets the scene for a persistent and nagging problem that’s been swirling around me since I started writing: if this book is going to help alcoholics I have to reach non-alcoholics on The Stigma of Alcoholism.
Throughout my alcoholism I’ve personally felt Stigma’s blunt-force trauma and crushing fear too many times to count. It’s the number one issue preventing alcoholics from seeking help in time to save their life.
No offense, but the fact that some of you are questioning the truth of it really being such a big problem is a warning flag in itself. I can hear the challenges rippling through the stigmatic air now.
“What about their denial? That’s the number one issue with alcoholics that I’ve seen.”
“What about the fact that they just won’t honest and come clean? They just hide it for God’s sake.”
On and on…
Why the hell do you think alcoholism is one of the few diseases people conceal rather than seek help for to avoid DEATH?
Answer: Because there are somethings worse than death- like the loss of everything of value to a human being in their life, the overwhelming terror of being shunned from employment, social relationships and from truly belonging.
The loss of every aspect of your human value and worth in life; are those not the underlying reasons people commit suicide?
Stigma is omnipresent and measured in strength by legions… all seemingly innocuous.
Innocuous: Non-injurious to physical or mental health. Nothing could be further from the truth than using that word to describe people who cling to the Stigma of Alcoholism- the scores of bigots surrounding alcoholics with their informed beliefs and profound wisdom about alcoholism.
Surprised or offended by my “unjustified” use of the word Bigot? In my last blog, I outlined the dissolution of the word “Bigot” from our society, starting in the 1970’s and its replacement with the seemingly underwhelming phrase, Social Stigma. Let’s take a brief look again:
Bigot: a person who is intolerantly devoted to his or her own prejudices, especially one who regards and treats members of a group of people with intolerance or hatred.
Stigmatize: to discredit or label with shame, to dishonor, vilify scorn or disparage.
Bigotry’s direct association with prejudice and intolerance virtually eradicated the word from anything but sarcastic phrases in our Politically Correct world today. The word was neutralized while the social injustice and cruelty remained.
The venomous pricks who constantly revealed themselves on my 42-year long journey were nothing but bigots, assisting The Stranger slaughter people suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Just like mosquitoes, they sting thousands of times before they die.
The bigots I mean.
The alcoholics didn’t fare as well.
Apparently, they simply lacked the willpower to survive and endure all the bigots had to throw at them. The bigots knew they were just weak-willed to start with. Every bigot knows they’re right.
WHAT’S VALUABLE IN THIS LIFE?
Our humanity continually nags us to ask ourselves some really heavy shit, doesn’t it? Important questions about issues we find difficult to answer. I’m not talking of questions about things that matter to us, that continue to pop-up in our heads in the conduct of our daily business like, “Does my ass look fat in these jeans?”
The answers given to those questions from independent observers may prove damn important and perhaps fatal. But they’re not the questions of substance I’m referring to.
I’m talking about those questions that spring up from deep inside of us, stemming from the core of our humanity. They’re rooted in our perpetual, lifelong quest to find our value, or worth in life.
This need to understand and know specifically what our value is springs from our need to satisfy two fundamental human needs: purpose in life and our need to belong.
They usually remain swirling around just beneath the surface of our consciousness. Hidden along ancient prehistoric grooves in our brains, they go largely unnoticed. Tough questions periodically breakthrough into our consciousness and bite us right in the ass, because we have no direct answers to them. How can you quantify your answers? How do you assign a value to them?
It’s a huge mind fuck. How does a human being assign value to his being? Evaluate his doing? Why are we not called human doings?
WHO DIED AND MADE YOU GOD?
It’s odd we wrestle so fervently in assigning value to our lives, yet some folks have absolutely no problem in doing this for others. This is what Social Stigma is all about, assigning value to others.
Well, if you’re going to be an effective bigot and take on the stupendous job of doing this for the world around you at least make it a little easier on yourself and bundle folks indiscriminately based on your personal preferences.
Make it easy and start with some pre-bundled groups, like people with diseases! Yeah, that a good place to start. There’s hundreds of them identified and bundled medically already.
WHAT’S YOUR ROLE IN THE MALEVOLENCE OF SOCIAL STIGMA?
In my last blog, I stated that there was a need for all of us to do a critical, introspective self-assessment. I suggested that I’d provide an assessment in this blog. After researching through a boatload of material on this issue, it turns out it’s not that difficult.
You already know where you stand on this issue. Your conscience has already told you. Not the PC language you use, or your vocalization of tolerance, humanitarianism or moderation to others.
The small voice that speaks to you from the inside, when you know you’ve done or said something hurtful to or about somebody. Perhaps it did when you joined a small group of associates around the water cooler who had neatly bundled a coworker into the most common alcoholic categories of “Unreliable, Deserving of blame for their problems”, worthy of “social distance” or “corporate structural discrimination.”
You recognize these conversations before you engage in them. We all do. Everyone’s talking in their hushed not to be heard tones so all within earshot will actually listen. Usually speaking about an associate who they’ve of course done a thorough professional evaluation on. Everyone is a medical expert, right?
But this self-assessment only works if you listen to that inner voice with a spirit of honesty and openness, a willingness to believe what it’s trying to tell you.
That should be easy. You don’t have to share what it’s telling you. Your inner voice is speaking to you- nobody else. Besides, lying to yourselves would just be a form of denial, wouldn’t it?
We all know that’s bad; only alcoholics do that for god’s sake! Because that’s just the way they are.
They’re different from the rest of us normal humans.
I hope this allows you to reexamine your stance on any preconceived notions about the true sinister nature of alcoholism. Those afflicted deserve understanding, not stigma.
You can find out more about my terrible journey dealing with this very issue in my first book, due to release July 19! You can click here to read more about it on my book page or scroll down to watch my book trailer. If you have a second after, I’d love if you shared it with a friend of yours or two.