Thursday, 7 February 2013

Dear Chrissie, I have a confession too...

I'm addicted to judging.

Your raw, live confession of your inability to give up smoking while you're pregnant did not shame YOU. 

It shamed ME.

Let's get some things out of the way. 

I'm not a smoker. I completely and utterly detest smoking. I do not and did not allow smoking in my house or my car even when smoking was the cool thing to do. I am anti cigarette advertising. I don't believe people should smoke in the vicinity of non-smokers. I don't believe people should smoke in the vicinity of children. I don't believe women should smoke when they're pregnant. Not even 'just a couple' to get them through.

My view remains unchanged.

But here's the thing. I have always KNOWN smoking is an addiction. An illness. I have always KNOWN this unrefutable and logical fact. Many people in my family were smokers. My own father died very young of throat cancer from the smokes. So I have had a lot of exposure to the mental illness that drives addiction. I understand it and will happily tout my opinions intellectually around a dinner table. You would think that understanding addiction so well and campaigning for the fair treatment of addicts would manifest itself as compassion.

You would think.

Yet, it seems, that I am only compassionate in theory. I have seen many pregnant women smoking. It would anger me. It would disgust me. I would feel compelled to make eye contact with that woman and scowl as I shook my head at her grossly irresponsible and SELFISH behaviour. I would think horrible things about that woman. I would judge her as uneducated, poor, rough, undeserving, disgusting and negligent. Never would I consider how impossible it is for some people, even pregnant women, especially pregnant women, to stop an addiction dead in its tracks. I would feel only contempt for her. Never compassion. Ever.

I'm proud of you and inspired by your courage. It is true, you only came clean once you knew you would be 'outed'. Your confession was born of shame and fear of your deceit being discovered. It's still courageous to be honest though, regardless of all that. It is also true, that as a public figure there is always the risk of being snapped doing something you wish people would not ever know about you. You still have a right to choose what you share and don't share though

I've been reading lots of online discussions from people on either side of the fence. Many defending you but so many condemning you. I'm not on either side of the fence. I feel like I'm impaled ON it. I'm sorry you are imprisoned so surely by your addiction that you would justify risking harm to your unborn baby. I'm sorry that I am one of millions of women who have made it seem impossible for you to ask for help. 

I'm happy that you have been forced to 'come clean'. As you have learned, that is always the hardest step to make. So many have said things along the lines of 'would you care if it was someone not so famous or well loved?' The answer is 'NO' and that is the point. What better way to be an influential public figure than to share your own pain to teach us all a lesson in compassion? We do love you. We do relate to you. To hear a woman we know, love, relate to and respect share such heartache and shame is very confronting. You're not a slapper bogan living on the dole with 3 kids from 3 different men with a burnt out car in your front yard and hydroponics in your roof. [see what I did there???] Your confession is shocking to us.Your confession gives us perspective. Your confession is catalystic.

I'm embarrassed that I have been such an arsehole but I'm grateful to you for pointing that out to me.

I'm going to try to kick that habit too.

Love and strength to you Chrissie,

Tan xx

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