Very recently, I got into a political debate with someone in my husband’s family. Ok, don’t worry. I will not talk politics on this blog. I will not get into who I vote for or anything like that. Anyway, this person was saying how people like me are pussies because I believe in food stamps, and raising minimum wage and generally helping others.
I had to disagree. Respectfully, of course. To me, the beauty of having the brain of a human is that we are able to show compassion for others while animals can not. In my opinion, a weak person is someone who refuses to help others. Whether it be by giving money, a place to stay, or sharing your knowledge or wisdom about something. We as human beings owe it to our race to not selfishly horde what we have.
None of us got where we are alone. This includes both our successes and our failures. Anyone who has had a drug problem, had someone give them the drugs for the first time. Anyone who has achieved lasting sobriety most definitely had help along the way. It may have been a great counselor, or the family member who stood by us no matter how many times we disappointed them. We had help.
Not just addicts, anyone. No one owns a Fortune 500 company with no assistance. Whether or not we choose to recognize everyone that helped us along this journey that we call life, is another story. It takes a great deal of self-awareness and humility to admit that we needed and used the assistance of others along the way.
One of the hardest things for people to be able to finally admit is that it is not a weakness to ask for help. When I relapsed, I was so ashamed that I would not, under any circumstances, ask for help. I thought that admitting that I couldn’t do this on my own, that I needed the help of professionals would make me look incredibly weak. I now realize that it doesn’t. My weakness was my stoicism. I could have nipped that relapse in the bud if my pride had let me man the fuck up and say, “I need help.”
I feel like this problem gets compounded when we become parents. We are supposed to be the problem solvers. The super-moms and super-dads. How can a superhero need the assistance of mere mortals? Well, even Batman had Robin.
I was baptized Catholic. I am still Christian, but I have been incorporating many Buddhist principles into my life as of late. The Dalai Lama teaches us that it is a critical part of human happiness to help our fellow man. He says, “Anyone who is only concerned with the well-being of others takes care of himself without even thinking about it. Even if we decide to remain selfish, let us be intelligently selfish -let us help others!” There is not a human living on the face of this Earth who has not garnered the help of others. It simply is not possible.
I have finally become able to admit that as an addict who is totally out of control of my addiction, I need the help of others if I am to survive. And by survive, I mean live a happy, sober, fulfilling life. Right now, I need the help of methadone. I rely on the help of my counselor at the clinic. I am cautious and wary around people and somewhat disinclined to make new friends, I appropriate much of my strength and sanity from my husband and family. My life is exponentially improved now that I realize that is not a sign of decrepitude to admit that I need the aide of others from time to time.
I also know that I must pay it forward. I would not be living the life that I am if were not for the love and benevolence of others. I have to do my part. We as a country must do our part. If you have been blessed by God enough to have large sums of money, give to charity. If your gift is that of an acute, knowledgable brain, I urge you to share that knowledge with others. If you have the voice of an angel, sing to brighten people’s days. We all have something to offer the world. We all need to share whatever we are rich with. To me, that is strength, not weakness. Weakness would be to selfishly keep to ourselves that with which we have been blessed with.