An actual conversation with someone battling significant substance abuse problems.
"Why do you do it? Why lie about [your drinking and/or drug use] it?"
"Because I can get away with it."
It's easy to get angry in cases like this, and I'm not going to claim that I am somehow un-phased. Granted, there's background here that I am not going to tell, but in terms of raw emotion, well, I think you can understand how this kind of thing can gnaw at someone (re: Me). In fact, I began this posting a few months ago, but thinking clearly enough about the situation to be able to articulate myself in a way that actually makes sense has taken a while.
The bigger story here isn't how I or anyone else would react to a statement such as I've noted above. No, I think it's that someone could be so desperate that they are left evaluating things in terms of what they can "get away" with. Now I'm told by someone far smarter than I (when it comes to this kind of thing...) that addicts are basically ashamed of their behavior, and lying is just a defense mechanism to somehow attempt to shield themselves. Seems reasonable, but misdirected. I have to remember though that feelings...especially mine...seldom neatly follow logical rules. This brings me back to the fact that the functional addict probably couldn't really help themselves in the truth-saying department at that moment, but nor I could I help myself in the anger at being played a fool either.
I got the better end of this stick though, as handling anger for me is a very rare affair (as I've noted in other postings), and even when the feeling is overwhelming, it is always temporary. The functional addict though has bigger fish to fry. They have to battle the source of their behavior; I only have to deal with an outcome of their behavior.
You see, in the end, you never get away with it.
* * * * * *
I've been thinking about anger a lot lately. Now I haven't been a rage monster, so it's not a case of having deal with feeling anger at the moment, but rather I've been reflecting on those things that have made me angry in the past. It's all a part of my "empathy as a super-power". I feel guilty about those times when I have been angry...and...in a small way, somewhat ashamed. Ironic, huh? I talked about how an addict may lie because they are ashamed, and here I am feeling slightly ashamed at feeling angry.
Part of it is that I just don't want the attention that being angry seems to provide. I really, truly don't. I don't want people thinking "...be careful, it will make him mad...". I don't want to be that "him". Heck, I don't even want to be in that sentence, period. I only want people paying attention to me when I'm in control, when I say, under my conditions. Anger seems to wrestle that control away in a visceral kind of way, and that's why it bothers me so very much.
Another angle to all of this anger stuff is the fact that I grew up with a very angry parent. I tell people that for most of my childhood (and all of my adult life) my mother basically had two emotions: Pissed Off and Not Pissed Off. Yeah, there were the occasions where she would be happy, but they were few and far between. Growing up it was frightening. Having grown up, it bothered me tremendously. It made me angry at the notion of being angry. I wouldn't see myself becoming my mother whenever I got angry, but rather I would see just how toxic anger is (as it was to her), and it repulsed me. Make that "repulses" me.
People have asked me how it felt when my mother passed away, and while I know I've written about that in the blog (and I'm too lazy to look up the postings from back then), I'll note it again now: Relieved. I was relieved when she passed away. Not saddened, but relieved. It was a weight taken off of my shoulders. Yes, I loved my mother, but I did not love being around her, a fact that I had to deal with almost constantly when she was alive. While it was incredibly difficult being around my mother for the most part, I never shied away from my responsibilities as her son. I'm proud of that fact, but even prouder of the fact that, when it was clear that my mother was not ever going to get better, I took the lead and made sure that she was allowed to die with dignity and in peace. At that moment in the ICU at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, I was finally able to stop my mother from being angry.