Yesterday, one of my closest friends called. He happens to be in town on vacation. Most of his family lives in Illinois, but he’s out in DC.
“We’re going to have to plan an intervention for my sister,” he told me. “Since I’m the one with free time, I’m calling facilities and insurance, and setting up meetings.”
He talked a bit about how stressful it is. And then he said this, “I know if it were me, and my family did this, I’d say ‘Fuck off.'”
The reason for the intervention isn’t the point. It may not be for what you think it’s for. My point isn’t to share salacious gossip. It’s to talk about the prospect and stress of intervening on someone’s behalf. To try and convince another person that their choices, their addictions and their lifestyle is hurting them and hurting the group.
We’ve all heard about an intervention gone wrong. I imagine you have anyway. Maybe in a movie. Or a sitcom. A group of friends and family gathers in a room, invites their loved one who is sick from an addiction, and the attempt is to lovingly guide them into a place of agreement. That yes, they are hurting themselves and we can help you get help.
The intervention gone wrong seems to be the one we hear about. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of one going well.
I ache for my buddy. I’ve known his family for years and they are all cool people. And no one wants to admit weakness. In our culture, addictions are weaknesses to be hidden from plain sight. Our cultural norm is to maintain appearances. The better the appearance of normalcy, the better.
Media has always driven that narrative. Social media has exacerbated that aspect of Americanism.
But this whole intervention thing causes me to reflect on my own vices. I love beer, and alcohol in general. I don’t keep liquor in the house, because … you know what they say, “an open bottle is an empty bottle.”
During the pandemic, I had to serve myself an intervention. After seeing a picture of me on a job, I saw my tummy was growing, and I thought, “Fuck, I gotta lay off the booze.”
Admittedly, I was one of the people who went too far into despair. A best friend was going through a nasty divorce. We were all pioneering uncharted territory. The prospect of you or a loved one getting really sick and/or dying was looming over us all. The country’s leadership was out to lunch and paved the way to let almost 600,000 Americans die over politicizing vaccines and masks.
I’m more balanced now, but not where I want to be. I keep dry on weekdays (try to anyway), except for the vacation we just took. And I need to get back on that wagon. I’m no superhero for sure.
I often think about little things, like, when I’m too old to drive, will I willingly stop? Or, when my legs go out, will I be too proud to accept I need a walker or a little electric cart? I tell myself that I will go willingly into that avenue or will someone have to force me to stop being so proud.
But to have lost so much control over one’s addictions or ability to make healthy decisions, that’s the rub.
My brain can’t help but think about all the other addictions, too. Where’s the photo that shows a person is watching too much news or reading too often from sites that provide an echo chamber of information that supports one’s point of view and drives a wedge between that person and their family?
“I can stop at any time,” says the person who stares at his or her tablet for hours and hours. Hits the YouTubes for a fix of Blinky blinks and political mumbo jumbo.
“This isn’t affecting my family or friends,” says the father or mother whose kids desperately want to spend more time with the person they love, the one who doesn’t repeat the meandering (dis)information of the far left or far right media jungle.
There’s rehab for addictions to substances, to food, to drugs and even sex. But there’s no interventions or rehabilitation facilities available for the woman who spends all her time at Huffpost, Buzzfeed, Breitbart, NewsMax, OAN, CNN, MSNBC.
My argument is that it is as bad as overeating. It’s worse than alcoholism. It’s worse than drugging.
It’s as bad anyway.
Anything that we consume that drives a tangible or intangible wedge between friends and family members is an addiction that must be addressed.
I think often about how it is to be a creative. How I’m not addicted to consumption so much as I’m addicted to creating. There are far less creatives than there are consumers. Is there a superiority between the two? I imagine we shouldn’t make that statement.
But there is a difference between someone who can take their knowledge and convert it into a substance. And someone who consumes and only regurgitates that substance or holds it inside as a form of comfort.
I know a person who often misunderstands my request to stop obsessing over political websites and media as me being anti-political or against his views somehow. It’s not that at all. It’s pro-love. It’s a plea for recognizing a weakness. It’s a goddamn intervention.
It’s saying, I love you and what you’re consuming sans cesse is maybe making you feel good, but it’s making our relationship a challenge.
That’s what addiction is, right? The addicted person thinks, “No, I’m not hurting anyone.” All the while, the people around the addicted person are hurt by the actions of this person’s habits.
Self awareness is key to understanding that our addictions do not stop at things like alcohol, food, drugs, sex or any of the somehow “standard” dependancies.
Habits need to be checked, and rechecked.
If you’re not creating a safe place for others to gather, it’s time to shake it up. Go on a fast. See how it feels to get away from the things you spend the most time on.
This past trip to France was that for me. I didn’t watch TV the entire time we were there. I didn’t have time to visit my favorite blogs or news sites. Even my alcohol consumption was different because instead of buying a six pack of beer, in France, you can buy individual beers from anything they have on the shelf. I know you can buy individual beers and make a sixer. Or you can buy some single beers. But there it’s different. So I drank less even though I drank every day.
And you know what, it felt really fucking good. I wish we could all fast from our vices and addictions.
Consider this, an intervention. And try not to say, “Fuck off.”
I love you all. All 10 of you who seem to be reading here. ❤️