When a celebrity death happens at the same time as an unfathomable international tragedy, you invariably find yourself defending what you choose to acknowledge on your social network of choice. Your priorities come into question the second you post about the dead celebrity, because her death was the result of “poor life choices” and therefore expected, unsurprising, and less worthy of your attention. To post about the dead celebrity is somehow tantamount to ignorance or – worse still – apathy as regards the countless people who aren’t famous who have also died senselessly.
Because if I’m reading my Facebook wall correctly, one “dead junkie whore” does not equal 100+ murdered Norwegians. These are the mathematics of compassion.
When an addict dies of his or her disease, I pay attention. It’s as simple as that.
I pay attention, because I am an addict. I pay attention because I don’t assume for a nanosecond that I am immune from a tragic, ugly death because I’ve managed to go a number of years without alcohol or taking medication for reasons other than why it’s prescribed. I pay attention, because there are people out there who still believe that what they are doing makes them feel better, makes them more “in the moment,” makes them more creative, or any of the other bullshit we tell ourselves when we are still drinking and using.
And when an addict dies of his or her disease, I write about it. I try to tell people that addiction is a goddamn horror show of epic proportions, and that two out of three of us will NOT MAKE IT, not because we’re weak, not because we’re morally bankrupt, but because we are sick. I am, for all intents and purposes, something of an expert here.
I understand, all too well, the rancor that erupts when an addicted celebrity finally succumbs to years of self-abuse. We are infuriating to live with. We are baffling to those who don’t have this constant, screaming urge to behave quite abnormally. Our behavior is the very epitome of selfishness. We all come into this world naturally solipsistic: feed me, change me, comfort me. Selflessness is a learned behavior. A brain in the throes of addiction is a brain controlled almost entirely by primal instinct: all that matters is feeling “better,” which is to say not feeling at all. I can think of no better way to describe it. I can only try to make sense of senselessness.
And yet, a mind that is so disordered, so hell-bent on utterly destroying its carrier, is still something to be ridiculed. And when addiction gets what it wants, it’s a chance for everyone who’s not addicted to point fingers and cast aspersions.
I write about this because it’s what I know. I write about this because in doing so, I somehow believe that it’s helping. I can’t stop a madman from going on a killing spree. I can write about what’s wrong with me, and hope that someone identifies. In the end, all we have is hope.
15 thoughts on “Making sense of senselessness.”
I wish everyone could read this post, and I wish everyone could be as insightful as you are, addiction or not. I am so glad of you.
But you know that the Taliban is really responsible for the world’s addiction problems, right? Let alone the fact that that “Norwegian” was just a Muslim in a whitey-pants disguise.
Er, I was being facetious.
That’s a relief.
I want to paste this entire post into the comment section of the whole goddamn internet.
Perfectly stated. Keep fighting girl. Know you are loved.
Brian Westbye posted this in light of Whitney Houston’s death, and I am so glad he did. Thank you for this essay specifically, and thank you for your eloquence. I am blown away by everything you’ve done and said in this short space.
Well done. I wrote about Whitney Houston today. I also wrote about Amy Winehouse when she died. It prompted quite a debate. I deleted one of the comments because it was so hateful. It’s the only time I’ve censored my blog. To comment sympathetically on the death of one person does not take away the tragedy of the deaths of others. There is civil war unfolding in Syria and famine in the Horn of Africa. Let’s not forget the Congo, Liberia, Burma, the Balkan conflict, 9/11, 7/11 and countless others. No doubt there are catastrophes occurring elsewhere on our fragile planet that haven’t yet hit the news. All death before three score and ten is a waste regardless of circumstance.
Yeah, I’ve never understood the whole “there are bigger things to worry about” mindset that invariably makes itself known in comments sections, as if my posting about Winehouse’s death means that I live in a bubble, and think of nothing else.
I also felt compelled to post again when the toxicology reports came to light, and it turned out that Amy drank herself to death: https://lisamccolgan.com/2011/10/27/death-by-misadventure/
This is what I know, and this is what I therefore write about.
The blogosphere is fully of nutters who judge others. It reminds me of why dogs lick themselves – because they can. Carry on writing what you like about what you like. Your blog, your choice. At least that’s the way I see it!
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found you by way of Courtenay Bluebird … I am SO on board with your message that any time any person, celebrity or not, dies as a result of their own poor choices then I have to pay attention … one in three will not make it, and there are still plenty of days that I feel like I should just go ahead and take the leap and maybe, just maybe, use up one of the spots so someone else can make it another day. We hang on and keep hoping we will leave behind a legacy of survival, and not end up being ridiculed for our fall from grace, or for our “inevitable ending”. Well said. Excellent.
If you visit my blog and wonder what I’m about, try Jan 27th Questionable Questions (part 1) and Jan 28th Questions and Answers (part 2). That pretty much sums it up – in two blog posts. I’ve just subscribed to your blog, and have a feeling I’ll be back soon to poke around a bit. Nicely done.
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