Addiction ... Our Harvester of Sorrow
Updated: Feb 19
It was at the turn of the century that Metallica front man James Hetfield entered rehab and defeated the demons that had plagued his life for years. His alcohol abuse issues, as well as other undisclosed addictions had set him on a path that he was no longer comfortable on at that point in his life.
With the band’s future at stake, he worked on himself and did what many are incapable of, especially in the public eye.
For a whopping 18 years, this man who proudly took the position as leader of a band that many referred to as Alcoholica (for their hard-drinking ways), stayed clean and sober. The sad news released by the rest of the members of Metallica this week alerted many to the fact that after all this time, he would return to seek help for his issues.
The internet has been ablaze with support and unfortunately some terrible accusations as well—these coming from a place of ignorance and an overall misunderstanding of what addictions can ultimately be.
The compulsions that beleaguer the many who suffer are hard to understand by many, be it drug, alcohol or even sex addiction. Many find it hard to understand how easy it is to get accustomed to doing something an exaggerated amount of times, when they themselves simply drink on weekends, have sex with their partners or maybe take pain killers when they are only truly in physical pain. It is an illness that many have to deal with every day of their lives, and what’s more confusing for some is that a person who suffers from addictions and compulsions is never fully healed. Thinking that they are fully healed is the best way to fall off the proverbial wagon, so to speak.
If a vase falls off a shelf and is later glued back together, can you not still see the crack that once broke its very shape and size?
Of course you can, and for the sufferers of addiction and compulsion, knowing where that cut and scar lies upon themselves is the most important thing to remember.
Of course we don’t know that this is what happened to James. In all fairness, it’s probably not the cause of his recent relapse, as he has always been a levelheaded individual. What is most important to remember here is that he had overcome these demons once before and he will overcome them again.
Addictions have an unfortunate way of creeping and seeping into all facets of a sufferer’s life, and unbeknownst to them. We can ultimately hurt the loved ones in our lives … family, friends, people who have helped us and shown us support … and all without meaning to. Memory loss, loss of self and awareness … so many factors are at play; a suffer lapsing into an almost third dimension of reality, making him or her another person altogether. The deeds committed during such times, as terrible as they may be, are deeds that are committed almost by another person … the sufferer him or herself. I studied addiction in detail while working on my first novel Weathered Tracks, and I can delve quite deeply on this fact and many others, but this isn’t really the point here.
As a hero of mine, his music and his words were there for me when I needed them most, and the overcoming of his demons inspired me, and it was he I thought of most times and still think of when certain issues in my own life seem to be nearing that point of excess. He is a great teacher and a great poet, and I, like the legions of fans he has, believe in him and take inspiration from him, as the courage it took for this man to admit he still needed help and subsequently sought guidance for this shows the greatest strength of all.
The 12 Steps detailed by Alcoholics Anonymous (Which apply to all addictions):
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
We made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
It is in the broken parts of our humanity … the places that are filled with those who have erred and fallen off of the beaten path and who have been led astray, that we can truly see where the strength and courage lies in our humanity. In a time where fame is so frivolous and most are out to portray themselves as celebrity for reasons so undeserving, we still see men like this ready to set an example, no matter what the cost to his own image.
Instead of making him out to be a martyr or victim, I choose to shine a light on this great man and commend his ability to get the help he still needs.
He will always have my love and respect; no matter how many times he’s fallen off of the old horse. I wish him a speedy recovery. And our hearts should go out to the other members of the band, as they too have been affected by James’ issues, but their unrelenting support is admirable and heart-warming.
So let’s take a minute to think about those suffering from any and all addictions, as it is one of the hardest of mental issues to deal with, as the consequences can be life-altering and cause a lot of pain across the board.
Until next time …
Montréal - September 28th, 2019
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