Being an addict wasn’t fun and it wasn’t glamorous; it was mostly terrifying. Being in recovery means looking back and having to come to terms with a lot of behaviors that I don’t recognize as myself. The reason was that I wasn’t myself. Addiction focuses your mind on getting the drug and not getting caught. But it is even worse than that. It compromises other character traits. Secrecy and dishonesty extend beyond the drive to get the drug. They become a way of thinking and behaving in general. Self-centeredness, narcissism and grandiosity begin to replace integrity and accountability. That’s why I did so many things that went against my core values.
If I, or those close to me, had known the early signs of addiction, I may have been able to get support and avoided the path of destruction altogether. Maybe I would have balked at the help. I really can’t know. But I do know that it matters that I advocate for better education regarding these topics. I want everyone to understand how addiction hijacks your brain to focus on different things than a typical, healthy mind. It causes you to miss the red flags in yourself and those of people around you. I missed a lot of red flags.
In my determination to keep up professionally, I sabotaged my family life. It was one less area to have to keep up appearances. That led to making other choices that were not in line with my character. I believed and relied on a woman that I shouldn’t have. She had so many red flags. But through the fog of addiction, none of them stood out enough for me to avoid her. She has now been exposed for her 20 years of deceit and fabrications. But those revelations came too late for me.
She deceived me into believing that there was an imminent threat to my reputation and my career. In a panic, I foolishly tried to eliminate it. But I never lost my commitment to keeping women and children safe. I could hardly have succeeded in a specialty like Pediatrics if I lacked respect for female colleagues, patients and their mothers. So despite my irrational fear, nothing more came from it other than the need to take responsibility for a series of frantic emails and phone calls. Today I can see how my judgment had been distorted. Sobriety has restored a clear-eyed view of the world. I work everyday to maintain that.