A certain candidate for mayor of New York and his wife are very much in the news — he a sex addict and she a spouse challenged to understand and live with the reality of her husband’s addiction. As if the initial revelations of his online escapades weren’t enough, fresh revelations of behaviors initiated after his thoroughly public drubbing and the loss of his Congressional seat are calling into question, anew, his integrity and trustworthiness to be a mayoral candidate even though he was in treatment at the time of the latest allegations!
Makes my blood boil. Few people understand addiction, the pendulum swing of the healing process, let alone relapse, but these same people rush to judge a beleaguered soul in the throes of a physical, mental, and spiritual illness.
“Does this mean he was lying when he confessed?” wails the public and the press. “Can he be trusted to be a public servant?”
Based on the latest tell-all from his most recent “sexting” partner, albeit a year ago, his candidacy is more than likely trashed, which should free the public to examine larger questions that bear examination.
Black and white questions in a million-shades-of-gray process include: “Can an addiction be cured? Is there such a thing as recovery from addiction? Can recovery be trusted? Can anyone in recovery be trusted? Should they be trusted?”
Let’s begin with the question of cure. Only an addict can cure him- or herself step after step after step. Choices must be made at every vulnerable juncture in the road whether to select a substance of choice or to walk on by. Humans aren’t perfect, and recovery is a slippery slope to negotiate. Next?
Yes, there is such a thing as recovering from addiction. Twelve-Step programs give out chips for sobriety, for one hour, one-day, one week, one month, six months, and on and on to mark decades of recovery. No one can shoot for decades, but moments can be won, one at a time. Recovery is a process that can be trusted, people.
Can you trust an addict in recovery? When he or she is actively choosing recovery, Yes. Are there any guarantees? No… It’s that human element that particularly dogs addicts. But you can allow them the space and time to make choices that can turn the right steps into a recovery path.
Should we trust an addict in recovery? I cannot answer that question for anyone but myself. As a parent I have to believe in giving my loved one the benefit of the doubt. “Where there is life there is hope,” I say in Chapter One in IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU — EXCEPT WHEN IT IS. Indeed!
Our candidate is not bound by flesh and blood to the electorate, only to the baby son for whom he and his wife are working to secure their family unit. My guess is that our society is not ready to trust a person in very public recovery with an elected office. But I am utterly certain the he deserves this opportunity for the questions surrounding his illness to be recognized and addressed. That may be the biggest favor he and his wife can do their city and our country. He is not a bad person; she is not a caricature standing by her man. They are a couple battling against an illness.
Within our instant-culture, we must make room for human realities that deserve space and time and forbearance. Let us not throw people away who take two steps forward and three steps backward in recovery, for they may take one step forward again, and another, and another… If we’re not ready to elect a person within this process, let us trust the questions and address them.