People are complicated. What we do is even more complex. What you see isn’t always what you get, even though society tries to tell us that. I recently read about the death of Corey Monteith from the hit show Glee. His demise was a shock to many people, especially those who had grown so comfortable with his character on the show. I spoke to a lot of people about it, and the same refrain was reiterated – “It doesn’t make sense, he seemed like such a good guy. Wasn’t he dating Lea Michele…” After hearing that drugs played a role and that he had had stints in rehabs before, most recently in April, others said, “He should have known better.”
As human beings, we are capable of the most incredible paradoxes. We can live virtuous lives, give off certain impressions, and yet have demons and struggles that the world may not see. The many facets that make up who we are might seem to be in great contradiction. We believe that if only others found out the truth about us, they would never believe it. However, we fail to appreciate that we are not as simple as the world or TV shows try to make life out to be. We have strengths and we have flaws; there are parts of us that we are proud of and yet we have elements that we may want to hide. This complexity is what makes us incredible as human beings. It is what makes us dynamic. We must embrace all the parts that make us who we are.
I don’t think that Corey’s overdose changes who he was as a person. I don’t believe that his persistent struggle with drugs and alcohol made him any worse. In fact, having never met the guy, I would venture to say that it might have even made him a better person. His fatal battle with drugs doesn’t define him as a person. My hope is that his death and how it is addressed on Glee will serve to inspire us to appreciate the complexity of addiction, and human beings in general. Some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met have struggled with addiction. They have learned that although addiction doesn’t define them as people, it can significantly affect them. More importantly, they have learned that in order to live without substances, they need to embrace their addictions as a vital component of who they are. They learn that they must accept themselves for all their diversity.
Instead of being concerned with what the world considers good and bad, we need to be spending more energy accepting who we are. Instead of quickly judging others, we need to spend time appreciating the intricacies of the people around us. We all struggle, we all have things we might want to change about ourselves, and that’s what makes us great.
Avi Shteingart, LMSW CASAC, is a licensed therapist practicing in the tri-State area. He has worked in a number of outpatient rehab centers, and maintains offices in Queens and Bergen County. He specializes in substance abuse, gambling, and other process and behavior addictions, as well as work with adolescents, young adults and adults struggling with anxiety, depression, social struggles, and transitions.
By Avi Shteingart