Slow motion car crash

Canada rarely makes news here in the UK. So, imagine my surprise when Toronto mayor Rob Ford made headlines with his now infamous admission that he smoked crack cocaine… and that he bought illegal drugs in the last year. The bad news keeps accumulating, like a six-car pile-up. The latest? That he was consorting with prostitutes – a charge he vocally denied using language unexpected of a politician – even him.

I expect we’ve all now seen the footage of him telling the world how much ahem he’s got to eat at home as a happily married man. Oh dear. And while I found myself laughing like everyone else at Jon Stewart‘s closing observations on this latest gaffe, I also felt the prick of compassion.

His furious denials of alcohol and drug addiction suggest the opposite is true. His behaviour, as this article argues, is sadly familiar to those of us with experience in this domain. When I look at Rob Ford, I see a man caught in the grip of addiction, turning increasingly to other maladaptive behaviours (courting unhealthy risk) as the disasters inevitably mount.

The Toronto City Council‘s vote of no confidence in the mayor was, it seems to me, a very public intervention. And the mayor’s continuing lurch towards permanent ignominy is a very public slow-motion car crash that many addicts go through in private, sometimes repeatedly, before admitting they have a problem.

Has he hit rock bottom? Each time we think he has, it seems he sinks even further. So, perhaps this will go on a little longer before something finally gives.

Marriage to an alcoholic has given me this unexpected view on this oddly compelling news story (compelling for its voyeurism more than anything else). Compassion – something I rarely managed to muster for my husband in the early years of his addiction – has bloomed in response to a stranger, a politician no less. No doubt, it’s easier when that stranger is also thousands of miles away. That’s one brick for me in the long road I’m building towards compassion.


9 thoughts on “Slow motion car crash

  1. Thanks girl,

    If it helps – which I doubt it will – your husband was a total Muppet. I’m sure he has started to realise way too late what anyone reading your blog can pick up in a couple if hours and that is that you’re an incredible, insightful and caring person.

    I’m really sorry that alcohol came between you two and I’m sure he increasingly will feel the same.

    Continue to be true to yourself and to grow as the compassionate person that you so evidently are.

    Take care and keep blogging, because I would like one day to hear you living the life you wish for and which you deserve.

    • Aw, thank you, Tom. But I feel I must defend the poor man. He would probably admit to being a muppet himself. Sadly, he is paralysed by his own guilt. It doesn’t make for a fulfilling life for him either, I suppose. One day – one day – we’ll all have the lives we really deserve. Take care

  2. You know, I have been wondering about writing a post similar to this. I mean, I am born, raised and live in Toronto…so this is my (ugh) mayor. I am repulsed and embarrassed by his behaviour. Just when we in the city don’t think it could get worse….it gets worse. He has a brother who is an enabler and a family who is also sick (alcoholism and addiction shows the true nature of being a family illness here). I am at the opposite end of his political philosophies and leanings, and disagree with pretty much anything he puts front of council.

    And yet…I too feel some empathy for him. I see how he is putting his co-workers, charges and family through hell. And I know I did the same. Not on a grand scale like him, but I did my part. And I think that is why I feel for him. Downward spiral with the world watching. And there is more to come…I am sure you will continue to get more feeds and stories over there.

    Thank you for this…and yeah, I understand where you are coming from 🙂


    • Paul, I didn’t know you were a Torontonian! You must write a post, then. We need commentary from the inside. I guess distance helps for me. Since I don’t live in his city, I can afford to feel compassion. 😉

      • Yeah, it gets from bad to worse to chaotic to downright mad in this city with Mr. F at the helm (or at least in name now). I don’t know now if I am seeing one of us (alkies) or just a crazy person (or both…usually go hand in hand). I think I will do a post on it…but the one thing I can say is that almost everyone (including political rivals) aren’t so upset about the addiction / drug / alcohol part – they are sympathetic there, but the criminal element, and the blustery, gangster way about him. As I said, I think it gets much deeper than what we’ve seen…a bit nefarious, in fact. Yikes. 🙂

  3. It’s something I have witnessed so many times. The constant justification of how it doesn’t affect their work. “I’ve never been high or drunk at a city council meeting!” We know that’s probably not true but regardless it’s hard to call someone who makes such statements a liar because they honestly believe they are telling the truth. In fact so many times it’s all about justifying their behavior regardless of how it impacts, distresses or harms those around them. We offer empathy and understanding. Especially to those we love yet that doesn’t equate to acceptance. Often I will very simply state “that is not acceptable”, “your behavior is not acceptable”. There’s no arguing with such a statement. We alone, individually determine what is acceptable and what is not. I’ve never been the kind of person who enjoys the wrecks in an auto race. I’ve never understood that about the human condition. What makes people who are trainwrecks fun to watch? I do have empathy but again it’s not acceptable. In this case it’s not acceptable to the very people he put in office and he’s being dealt with appropriately. How sad is it for him to think we cannot see right is I’m front of our eyes. People will rise to the degree of inspection we choose to employ, not our expectations.

    The holidays are coming up and I know they can be tough but know there are many you’ve never met who are here for you anytime you write, reading your words and listening with our hearts. Thank you for taking the time to share part of your life with us.

    • Yes, how right you are. We can have empathy, while not accepting the behaviour. I certainly don’t condone his actions – not in the least. I suppose I continue to be amazed by the extent to which addicts will lie about their addiction, despite holding the beer can/crack pipe/whatever. And to do it in the public eye, despite all the evidence to the contrary. But there is more than just that. There is the cynicism of politics at play as well. … Thank you for dropping by and sharing.

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