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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Hello, My name is Betty and I'm an alcoholic"

"Hello, my name is Betty and I'm an alcoholic."

Courage. Honesty. Kindness. Spunk. Determination. Speech.

Betty Ford made it okay to talk about the untalkable. To speak about the unmentionable.

First, it was breast cancer. Women in my mother's generation felt shame at a cancer diagnosis. It was whispered but not spoken aloud. Not only breast cancer but any cancer, the name that shall not be spoken.

No more. No more. No more.

Betty spoke and all of us began to. Be honest. Speak out.

Addiction. An abyss from which there was almost no relief, no cure, no recovery.

We joke about celebrities checking into the Betty Ford Center. It is no joke. I know people whose lives were literally saved at the Betty Ford Center. Scared, broken, lonely.

Renewal, recovery, the rooms, meetings, group, healing, confidence, new life.

Can you even imagine a nation without the influence of these institutions, these words, these inspirations?

People ask me why I blather here about my injury, my experience. Why I write about the abuse of power, about the scourge of clergy sexual abuse.

I take power and confidence and inspiration from Betty, from women like Betty who dare to speak truth, the unmentionable, the damnable.

She changed the world. She changed the world. She changed the world.

This is not to idolize a woman, but to pay respect and to be clear that some of us spunky, uppity, courageous women are not going to stop speaking the truth. However inconvenient. It's gonna keep coming.

About all manner of important, unmentionable but essential issues.

Bless you, Betty. And thank you. For everything.

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