A friend of mine just asked me to write a post about responsibility. I thought that was a terrible idea because I was content in my new chair and I didn’t want to move from my purring babies. But, the chair isn’t going anywhere, neither are they, and I haven’t written anything all day, so here I go.
We passed a homeless woman today who yelled a profanity at my friend even though he was stopping for her to let her cross the street with her shopping cart full of – stuff. He didn’t have a stop sign, but he was stopping for her anyway because that’s the kind of hero he is. He gives pedestrians the right of way even when they don’t have it.
She barked at him because it seemed he had unintentionally scared her and instead of crossing in front of his car, she maneuvered her things behind it. Eugene, the college town we live in, is teeming with homeless folks. Homeless camps occupy countless corners, parks, roadsides and underpasses throughout the city. Anyway, my friend and I got into a discussion about who was responsible for her position and condition in society.
Did she do it to herself or did someone or someones make her the way she is? Was she molded or did she agree to be molded?
My friend said, “I know Jennifer, you think she’s responsible for her situation. But what if she had had a pimp who introduced her to drugs? What if he made sure she continued taking them long enough to get hooked? Is she responsible then or is he?” Assuming the woman had had a pimp in her past and that her pimp was a he.
Then the conversation turned to sobriety and recovery (my friend has been clean and sober for 27 years). Who’s responsible for our sobriety? Who’s responsible for our recovery? I do not agree that they’re one and the same. Sobriety requires that we don’t drink alcohol. That’s it. Recovery requires that we become a non-drinker. Not drinking is not the same thing as BECOMING something new – something different.
Outward tasks/things/places like meetings, reading, conversations, church, inpatient treatment, jail, forums and – insert an activity here – can all contribute to one’s success in sobriety – but they aren’t ultimately responsible for it. And sometimes none of these things work. Each one of us is responsible for not reaching for alcohol. The only true power we have to not drink must come from inside us – because that’s where our addiction resides.
The same holds true for recovery. Getting sober is half of the equation. The second half – recovery – requires a mental shift in perception, attitude, and relation to alcohol & drinking. These positions come about internally. “I don’t drink.” No one can put or force a person into this position with these words. Each one of us is responsible for getting there. Wanting to be there isn’t enough. We have to transform.
My friend loves to debate and is never short on “Well ….” or “But what about …”
Thoughts? Opinions? Comments?