We’ve seen the mug shot – droopy and listless eyes, saggy face, dishevelled features.
I am sure my mugshot is similar.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing from barstool therapists and sober champions alike who have been quick to jump on the idea that Tiger Woods is a drug addict. I have watched many folks online tweeting about this and immediately making assumptions about Eldrick Tont Woods and his issues. It was quite astounding at how many people made their diagnoses without having any other information other than a picture and a meek apology from the golf star himself.
I read an excellent article this morning about this. There have been a few insightful articles concerning this as well, and what it comes down to is that we don’t know Mr. Woods. I certainly don’t. We are familiar with his amazing golf accomplishments and beyond elite-level play. We know about his millions of dollars, his endorsements and his choice of female companionship. But very few actually know the man. And in that regard, I cannot state much about his personal life. And that includes whether or not he’s an addict.
It’s unfair of me to label him without knowing it all. And even then, it’s not my place to do so.
One large part of recovery is in sharing our stories. Why do we do that? Why bother? I mean, we all knew how to drink. We know the lows, the depression, the hangovers, the destruction of relationships and jobs. We understand this. Yet why do we share our stories?
It’s simple – so that others can identify.
It wasn’t until I was at a 12-step meeting and I heard a man tell his story that I realised that I was truly an alcoholic. It was like this guy was reading my mail – he described me to a tee. I could identify with how he felt, how drinking affected him, how he acted out and behaved. And since then I have heard countless other tales, from teenagers to seniors, from all different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, discuss alcoholism in a way that I truly understood. I was one of them.
When I see a newcomer at a meeting, I don’t assume they are an alcoholic. Most would. It seems fair enough that if someone decides to go to a 12-step meeting, then they certainly must be an alkie. But that is not often the case. There are a lot of heavy drinkers who may have been told they were alcoholics. Or perhaps loved ones have urged them to go. But I have seen many people in the rooms who weren’t alcoholics. They didn’t identify. They didn’t see themselves in anyone. They realised later on that they did have the power and control over alcohol that we alcoholics simply do not. They just chose to drink. I never had that choice deep into my alcoholism.
The most powerful step is that first step where one self-identifies as an alcoholic. I can’t, nor do I tell anyone, that they’re an alcoholic or not. It’s not my job. But I can discuss what it was like for me, and to share some literature and let them decide for themselves. Even when I think that there is a 99% chance that they are an alcoholic, it’s still not up to me to diagnose them. It needs to come from them, from their churning guts and foggy spirit.
Many clean and sober folks are often the first to make the leap and start pointing fingers at someone who they think should be joining the ranks of recovery. I understand that we see many things in them that we see in ourselves, but I feel it’s unfair for me to slap a label on someone I don’t know. As that one article states, many people make dumb mistakes involving alcohol and drugs, and often that includes getting behind the wheel. Not everyone with a DUI is an alcoholic. I have a DUI and I am an alcoholic, but I am in the minority. Most of the people in the DUI class I had to take as part of my license reinstatement were people who made lapses in judgement. In fact, a few of them mentioned that they were busted while reaching into their glove compartments, car off, keys in pocket, to get the business card of a designated driving company.
I once wrote a post on this blog about our troubled ex-mayor, Rob Ford, discussing whether he was an alcoholic or not. I pulled the post after a day or two because I felt that it wasn’t my place to make that decision. I wasn’t being fair and I didn’t know that man. I only knew what I saw in the newspaper.
So is Tiger Woods an addict? I have no idea. But it’s up to him to decide. He may have mixed those medications as he stated and perhaps that will be last we hear of it. Is his sex addiction finding another outlet? No clue. I am not his sponsor or his therapist. I am not him.
My role in recovery is to focus on my recovery, and to be of service to others. That’s it. It’s not about trying to shame others or to pigeonhole them as one thing or another. It’s about just being there and showing others that it can be done. And if and when those who struggle want to be a part of recovery, I welcome them with open arms.
Until then, it’s none of my business.