Friday, February 9, 2007

The Death of Anna Nicole... What's the Real Story

I don't think anyone is "shocked" at the death of Anna Nicole Smith; a tragedy at 39-years-old. It seems fairly common knowledge that she had some sort of addiction problem. I didn't know her personally or even follow her in the tabloids for any reason. It just seems that she made news often enough for me to see a pattern of destruction. It made me think of some of my hero's that have gone the way of drug overdoses... Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple), John Entwhistle and Keith Moon (The Who), John Bonham (Led Zeplin) and my close friend and old roommate, Doug.

First let me say that addiction is a killer and often is resistant to treatment. My personal experience with it is that it can be overcome, yet I found that it was more of finding a healthy replacement than just stopping the destructive behavior. Years of education, prayer, requiring more of myself, and some plain old "just walking through it," have brought me to this point in recovery. That is a fancy way of saying, this could easily have been me; but for the grace of God.

Having spent nearly 30 years in various recovery programs, I have met lots of substance abusers, addicts and alcoholics. They all have a story, and some of them are far more then heart-wrenching... they are revolting. I am not talking about the their personal exploits as abusers, no, I am talking about what led them to it in the first place. I have spoken to men and woman that have been belittled, cursed at, beaten, slapped, kicked, burned, sexually assaulted and forced to lie, cheat and steal... and worse; abandoned by the very ones that were supposed to love and protect them.

When I see a kid in trouble, that first question I ask is where is the father? The answer is usually uninvolved due to divorce, addiction, overworking or something else that has kept them from doing their job. As a dad with children ranging from young adults to preschool, I know that responsibility; and it is a huge one. It keeps me from doing some of the things that I want to do in life, but I find time with them rewarding. Besides, research shows that married dads live longer then single men. With a couple of them not living at home, that task is a bit more difficult. You don' get to invest the little things each day, things like morning kisses, teasing them about the amount of time they spend in the bathroom and having meals together. It is often little things that open the door for the big things like talking about boyfriends and girlfriends, sin, addictions, family curses and discipline.

When any adult misses, avoids or refuses to invest in the little things, they become the sin police. Their only interaction seems to be while pulling the offending kid aside to let them have it. Think about how often you have conversations with cops. It is usually through the window explaining why you were speeding or telling them that you'll get that taillight, the one that's been out for months, fixed tomorrow. This is not a realtionship! When a parent is absent for long periods of time, kids often think that they are unlovable. You see where this going. My question regarding Anna Nicole's death is not how did this happen. No, it is where was her father when she was growing up?

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