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comment by tacocat
tacocat  ·  1315 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: December 14th: What are you reading this week?

So this woman lays bare her most embarrassing episodes and you can't empathize, it's a first world problem like your keyless entry not working or wearing a watch so you don't have to take your phone out of your pocket to read a text. You read two hundred pages about a person struggling with a mental illness and your takeaway was in part "I kinda don't care." This is the problem with addiction. Mitch Hedberg said, "They say alcoholism is a disease but it's the only disease people can get mad at you for having. Dammit Otto, you have lupus. Dammit Otto, you're an alcoholic. One of those doesn't sound right." This is why people end up homeless. Their families can't or won't help them. They don't care because it's a choice to feel like shit all the time. It's a choice to wake up with a black eye you don't remember getting. An intervention a family saying if you don't fix this now we're going to throw you out to the wolves because we can't understand what you're going through. How is that for therapy? We don't abandon late stage cancer patients and Alzheimer's patients but every day this bullshit tough love approach forces people already with deep psychological problems against a wall. A&E even makes it into spectacle. Not for cigarette smokers, they aren't fun to watch stumble around but I digress.

Hepola never got so down low that it was horrifying and pitiful and her writing style was more like a long blog post to me but she had a real problem that people who haven't been through it have zero empathy for. But even if she had been through life threatening withdrawal like I have she'd probably get no more thoughtful consideration as to the broken mechanism that causes addiction. "Well, you made a bad decision. Repeatedly and in the face of massive evidence that your behavior is going to kill you. You deserve scorn at the least because I certainly can't imagine waking up in a pool of vomit and diarrhea after realizing that was a possible consequence." I go to meetings, I hate AA, it's a cult, but it's effective because you have to live through it to understand it apparently. And at every meeting someone mentions the type of people they meet in treatment. It's fucking everyone. Doctors, lawyers, clergy, executives. Someone you know and when you find out you better remember this book and the struggle Sarah went through before she found sobriety instead of saying you have no empathy for a person in this position. "Really moving" but "Hard to empathize," wait until it's one of your friends.

rinx  ·  1315 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My dad was an alcoholic and my mom was anorexic. They met in recovery. I was raised by addicts and surrounded by the chaos it causes. It's hurtful you jump to a knee jerk diatribe against me, totally skiping the part where I call the book moving and instead fixation on my one criticism.

Her problems are entirely self made, and it is hard to empathize with someone like her. She has an incredible job and a loving family, with tons of friends. Most of it came very easy for her. None of it came easy to me. Her style is open and honest about her addiction, but she doesn't seem to show gratitude for all the other good in her life. That is the part I found grating. Her lack of appreciation for things I spent my whole life working toward.

My life is a study in addiction and it's consequences. Just because I'm critical of her book doesn't mean you're justified in talking down to me.

Edit: I also want to add, in case you misconstrued my whole self destructive comment, I'm not saying alcoholism is a choice and we shouldn't empathize with addicts. I'm saying every since that rat utopia article it's been something I wonder about: how much of addiction is caused by our upbringing? Hepola had it pretty good, and yet this still came for her. To me, she's the rat utopia example, but she's still an addict. It reinforces my belief that some people, even if you put them in utopia, will have these self destructive behaviors surface and will have to eventually face them.

tacocat  ·  1315 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Pardon me but you rubbed me totally the wrong way with your glib dismissal of Sarah Hepola's problems. I had some problems with the tone of the book but at no point did I think I was reading some punched up attempt to seek sympathy by a privileged white lady with one fault and everything else falling in her favor. I was touched by her honesty but you apparently want to turn it into a human suffering contest where she loses. That's not how recovery works and that goes back to my comment about how it cuts across all walks of life. When I'm in a meeting I'm not comparing my bullshit to whatever brought someone else there. But you're doing that. Or seem to be based on your reply. This person's road to recovery kinda sucks because it's not tragic enough is what I'm hearing from you when it would be accepted as easily as any other by AA or SMART members

rinx  ·  1315 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You've read a lot into a very mild criticism, at this point your basically making up what I said and arguing with yourself. I don't think "having trouble empathizing with the author" equates to dismissing her road to recovery or her problems. I think it's perfectly valid to say I have trouble liking someone who doesn't appreciate the good she has (before and after recovery). As far as I'm aware, alcoholics can have character flaws not related to their addiction. For her it's selfishness and a bit of shallowness, for you it might be being a bit presumptuous. I'm happy you got a lot out of the book, but I don't agree that it's sacrosanct or that I'm not allowed honest discussion of it, both pros (which you ignore) and cons. If you can't handle a conversation without talking down to me then we shouldn't be talking.

kleinbl00  ·  1315 days ago  ·  link  ·  

...or maybe the writing didn't connect with her? Robert McKee pointed out that a bad storyteller can bore you with the tale of their kids dying while a good storyteller can enthrall you with their commute.

I, too, grew up the son of alcoholics and lemme tell ya - when people lash out at others for not understanding or relating to alcoholism, it doesn't make me relate better... it makes me tune out the lashers.