What Do Josh Hamilton and I Have in Common?
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is human connection. ~ Johann Hari, Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
Baseball lovers hold mighty big dreams as they follow their teams through the valleys and peaks of a 162-game season–and then maybe score seats to a World Series game.
My year was 1985–an eternity ago–when my Kansas City Royals came from behind to beat their Missouri nemesis the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Seven of the I-70 Series.
I caught the World Series long ball again in 2010 and 2011 as a newly minted Texas Rangers fan living in Dallas. My sweetie and I were able to attend several games courtesy of Major League Baseball (and their work with our former employer, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids).
That’s how I first connected with Josh Hamilton.
Josh’s dramatic rise and fall . . . and rise
One of the detriments to a public figure’s life is that everything is revealed and nothing is sacred. When I entered recovery, I worried about my employer and friends learning my deep, dark secret of addiction (Thank God we’re making HUGE strides to eliminate that stigma; more about that in next week’s post.).
But Josh had the media, including so-called “citizen journalists” circling him constantly as he trudged through his early recovery days. I tip my hat to anyone who deals with public sobriety with grace and dignity. Josh certainly did.
And his fans rallied behind him. Who cares whether they selfishly rooted for his bat or for his personal life. I’d like to think it was more of the latter than the former.
Before the 2010 Series, one of my former Partnership colleagues wrote in an online journal, “I will be rooting for Josh Hamilton because he is living proof that drug addiction is not hopeless and those suffering from this disease are not helpless. Recovery is possible with the support of family, friends, professionals and in Josh’s case, caring, thoughtful teammates (who celebrated their ALCS Championship without alcohol out of respect to Josh’s recovery).”
The recovery path of Josh Hamilton hasn’t been an easy one, as is the case for so many. Maybe he distanced himself from unconditional love or maybe he succumbed to temptation.
There’s no point in picking apart why his disease came out of remission. The only person well-served by that exercise is Josh himself. But once again, the media–God bless them–scoured through his life.
A few of them found and wrote about what I know to be true about Josh–and I’ve never even met the man. Addiction is a disease that fries the brain’s circuitry and causes people to make bad decisions that put their wellbeing and those they love in grave jeopardy.
The truth about addiction
Only someone who lives with MS or cancer or heart disease can truly relate to someone else living with MS or cancer or heart disease. They don’t need to know the specifics; they just know what it’s like. The rest of us can only sympathize, love and offer support.
The same is true with addiction. Only someone with addiction can really get what it’s like to live with addiction.
That’s the bond that Josh Hamilton and I have. I may never meet him, but he is my brother in recovery.
The very best thing anyone else can do for us is sympathize, offer support and surround us with love. That’s the key to addiction recovery.
Fortunately, after a disastrous move to Anaheim to play for the California Angels, Josh is back with the Rangers. He debuted with the team earlier this month . . . to a standing ovation of support.
He responded with several days of consecutive hits, including a pinch-hit, walk-off double to beat the Red Sox.
Coincidence? Not if you have faith in the power of human connection.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison