My Privilege

i have been a thug most of my life.  i have anger issues.  Bet you never saw that one coming.  i have used violence (physical, verbal, emotional, and spiritual) or the threat of violence to control my environment for most of my life.  Maybe some people are born violent, but i doubt that very much.

It was learned behaviour.  “If a person picks up a stone, you pick up a bigger stone… if he picks up a stick, you pick up a bigger stick”.  Good advice for soldiers on the battlefield.  Not so much for a young boy.

Guy’s bothering your sister?  Beat him up.  Guy’s bothering you (anywhere, mind you)?  Beat him up.  Not my fault.  i have been trained in senseless brutality.  And i put that training to good use, like i say, most of my life.  Not my fault.

It also is true that i am a white, male heterosexual.  But no one asked me if i wanted to be a man.  No one asked me if i wanted to be white.  Or heterosexual.  And before i was born, i do not remember god calling me into the hall of souls (made that up) to see how i wanted to enter this world.  So get off my back.  Right?

Nope.  No one asked me, but here i am.  And, truth be known, if god had asked me, i definitely would have chosen all those advantages for my life.  Without batting an eye.  Other groups face discrimination, isolation and abuse.  i would choose privilege every time.  This guy is not a masochist.

Because with all those things, comes privilege.  Not a sense of privilege, but real, measurable, tangible privilege.  My life has been gooey with privilege.  I ooze with privilege.  If you are privileged like me and still do not get it, that is fine.  Don’t even bother arguing with me about it.

Kind of a life philosophy.  And if you took offense, then the shoe likely fits.  My recovery so i kind of do what i like…so there.  And that is the gift i offer you.  Recovery.

In 2001 i was in a major car accident that put me off the rails for a long time.  i was in physical therapy five days a week and in counseling every week.  Then there were the constant meetings with lawyers.

i began to spiral out of control, as i realized i would never work again.  Self esteem in the shitter.  Depression.   Anxiety attacks.  Laying in a fetal ball on the floor with someone screaming at me to get up and be a man.

So i did something manly.  i isolated and told only my shrink what was going on.  And i would drink.  Anything.  Everything. If i bought a 26 of Jack, it was because i had serious drinking plans.

i was in and out of psych units.  Suicide attempts.  They put me on some meds.  i gained 30 pounds in three weeks. Add to that, a home that was chaotic and toxic every day and i was one sick puppy.  Not my fault though, right?

Then my psychiatrist, a wise man and one of the few people i trusted back then, told me something that changed my life.  “John, you are self-medicating with alcohol.  I think you may be an alcoholic.  If you drink like this, i can do nothing for you.  Medication will not work properly and may actually cause more harm than good.  We can’t assess your meds properly.”

And then it happened.  He suggested i go to rehab to deal with my drinking.  i had great benefits, so i was one of the lucky ones who got to attend Homewood in Guelph.

i say that with total sincerity, by the way.  Those people saved my life.  i will be eternally grateful to them and to AA for helping me.  i worked my 30 days, eventually got my five-year chip and my meds were straightened out to where they controlled most of my symptoms.

If you are not familiar with the concept of recovery, let me help you out.  Recovery is a guiding principle for life.  Recovery is acknowledging that something or someone, is making you unhealthy, so it needs to be out of your life.

It can be anything or anyone.  If it or they contribute to making you unhealthy, dealing with it Honestly, Forthrightly and with Integrity is called Recovery.  i’m expecting some pissed off sponsor to contact and correct me somewhere along the way, so let me emphasize that i have never been a sponsor and these are my own observations and learnings.

I drink, but not often, so i may not be the best model.  I do not want to give an alcoholic or addict hope for that kind of future.  Learn from my experience and take whatever is healthy for you.   Or don’t.  Not my business.  This is my recovery and i will take accountability for it, so it is not for you.  And if you need to be in a Recovery program, just do it.

If you need to be in Recovery of some sort, these statements may make you angry.  Breath.  People are trying to help.  Breath.  Accept some help.  It’s ok.

Sometimes it is necessary to hit rock bottom.  Some of us need that impetus to finally begin a healing process.  i hit rock bottom and that, along with solid recovery teachings, set me up for the rest of my life.  i learned the steps, i lived the steps and the healing to my body, mind and spirit was terrific.  I grew and healed as a human being.  This is one thing i have learned from my experience and the experiences of others:

Maybe you have not hit rock bottom.  You will.  Without question.  And it may have nothing to do with illicit substances.  i posted a video for my male friends earlier.  i found it helpful and thought-provoking.  You women can watch it too.  Pretend you are sneaking into our private clubhouse.

Sarah had to leave.  You all recognize that by now, i am sure, and i have made it clear i harbour no ill will or anger.  Why not?  Because i am an angry person by nature and nurture.

Why not just get pissed off and blame everyone and everything else for the situation?  Because i learned something very important i never learned in AA.

Fuck.  Yup.  Get on board and grab that Recovery and hang on for dear life.  Make recovery your goal, your greatest desire.  That guiding principle will save your life.

And then don’t be like John.  Don’t forget that Recovery is not a goal, it is a lifestyle and, yes, it is forever.  If i want to be healthy.  i can go back to being sick any time i like.  That happens when i forget my Recovery.

One day at a time…forever.  For me.  i deserve to be healthy.  Now my recovery is mostly about dealing with my sense of privilege.  Why do i think i deserve certain things?  My sense of being owed something in return is not healthy for me and goes against my whole understanding of grace.

And coming face to face with that privileged, white, heterosexual man i have been so comfortable with for such a long time.  He is a old, familiar friend, but he needs to go.  Not all of him.  Some of those threads may be there forever an maybe some of those thoughts and feeling are ok for me.  i do not know.  But i am in Recovery and so i do the critical things that help me.  That is where i find my strength.

Not to cheapen the idea of Recovery, but this summary may help someone understand a little better.

Recovery is easier with like-minded people and there are a lot of people visiting here who know all about Recovery.  Check out their sites and drink in the grace offered there.  Well, i need to go blow a lot of snow before the ice pellets (wtf?) arrive later.  It’s ok.  Part of Recovery is about exercise.

Use your strength.  Be the hurricane.

John

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