On First Chances, Second Chances, and More: Or, Am I Simply Throwing My Own Pity Party? Probably
By Ken K. Gourdin
The Deseret News’s Doug Robinson has a fascinating feature story on Salt Lake market media personality and former BYU football player Alema Harrington, here (last accessed June 14, 2015): http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865630689/Alema-Harrington-has-found-strength-and-his-mission-in-helping-other-addicts.html.
My comment is too long for the on-line comments section, so I e-mailed it directly to Mr. Robinson:
I really enjoyed your feature on Alema Harrington. I’m keenly interested in human interest stories, stories that talk about what makes people “tick” and how they got where they are (and what they had to overcome to get there). I wish I could write my own story like that. I had the following comment. It’s too long for the on-line comments section, but I thought I’d pass it on to you directly. Please forgive the intrusion.
I’ve always liked Alema, and I respect how he’s been able to deal with his challenges. Before this article, I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes with him. I wouldn’t wish addiction on anyone. I’ve worked in a support (non-treatment) capacity in addiction recovery, and there is no “them.” The only difference between addicts, on the one hand, and you and me, on the other, is the choice of coping mechanism. That’s what abuse is: a maladaptive coping mechanism. I wish him well in his continuing sobriety and recovery, and continuing happiness. To anyone who’s relapsed, I say, you can’t relapse without having had some recovery first: make today the first day of a new period of sobriety.
All of that having been said, why does it seem as though the surest route to getting real help for problems is to become addicted to a substance and/or to commit one or more crimes? I’m not addicted to anything, and I’ve never committed any serious crimes. I’ve always tried to do the right things in the right way and to play by the rules, but it seems as though I’m destined forever to remain obscenely overeducated and underemployed, never advancing, bouncing from one dead-end job to another. (I have a law degree, that I’ll never use, that’s collecting dust in a nondescript closet in the corner of my nondescript room.) I don’t begrudge anyone a second chance (or as many chances as anyone will give them: that’s their business, and I hope they make the most of those chances, however many they get). But it does seem as though so many people get second chances, and more, on the one hand, while there are those of us who’ve never gotten (and probably will never get) a decent “first chance.”
Thanks for listening.