Anne Heche’s death was very sad. People are still publicly humiliating her despite this, Over the past week, I’ve felt hopeless as I’ve seen so much hatred aimed at actor Anne Heche for experiencing something I hope never happens to anybody else.
For the past 10 days, the image of her corpse wrapped in flames following the car accident in Los Angeles has tormented me. It baffles me why some people can look at her agony and still not feel compassion for her.
When Heche crashed into another woman’s house, she was high on drugs. The homeowner escaped the blaze without harm, but her home and nearly all of her possessions were destroyed. Friends of Heche’s, such as celebrities Alec Baldwin and Rosanna Arquette, who posted messages of support for her online, were met with criticism and caustic comments about her behavior.
Damage to Heche’s brain caused her to become brain dead. Her family removed her from life support on a Sunday. I’m wondering if that will be enough to appease those who have been demanding her dismissal. Currently, they possess it.
The word “choice” kept jumping out at me when I read the responses.
One of the many Instagram users who tormented Baldwin wrote, “There are accidents and there are decisions,” before adding, “her choice burned down a family’s home.”
I know this will not endear me to anyone, but I’m not convinced Heche actually chose something.
The 53-year-old actor and I both have been open about our experiences with substance misuse. I never felt like I had a say in succumbing to the drug urge. I’d compare it to being struck by lightning. When I stopped being able to think logically, my brain froze.
Please excuse me while I go get stoned. Please move out of my way.
I can vividly recall the time it happened to me, just a few months after completing my rehabilitation program. They were my husband’s two boys, and they were here. We were all squished together on the sofa, watching sports with them. I nodded off for a bit. The sensation was one of pure joy. Since beginning treatment, I had not been able to get a restful night’s sleep. Maybe if I took this unusual snooze I’d feel better. Long-term withdrawal symptoms persisted me.
The phone rang just as I drifted off to sleep. I choose to disregard it.
My eldest stepson said, “Your phone is buzzing.”
I only said, “That’s fine,” to indicate my acceptance of the situation. I could have slept if I lay down right then.
Again, the phone rang. Liz, your phone is ringing, my stepson informed me.
Imminent peril loomed. In those fractions of a second that reveal so much data instantly, I realized I needed to control my annoyance. My stepson had nothing to do with it. To be honest, he was only trying to be helpful.
After years of being consumed by the egocentricity of heroin addiction, I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of self-regulation. My ability to empathize with others’ circumstances and sentiments was severely lacking.
To which I said, “Thanks, but don’t worry about it,” in a kind tone. “All I want to do is sleep.” I was pleased with my own tolerance of others.
What followed is common knowledge. He called my name and jabbed me in the arm when my phone rang again. The results of three months’ effort had vanished. As I said, the poke was the final straw. I’d had enough at that point.
I was completely silent. I shook off the comforter, climbed the stairs, and retrieved my wallet and keys. I down the stairs once more and left the building. I was already on the road when my sock-clad hubby emerged from the front door. He anticipated my arrival at my heroin dealer’s house.
Just “Liz,” he greeted her. As in, “Sweetheart…”
I really don’t give a damn about this. I gave him “The Look,” my code for “don’t bother talking to me; I’ve made up my mind.”
I made up an excuse to get behind the wheel and pretended I needed some fresh air. “Don’t stress out over it.” His expression as I backed away will remain etched in my memory forever.
It never felt like a decision was being made during this episode.
Addicts are the only people who react the same way whether mustard gets spilled on their shirt or a Category 5 hurricane is on its way, or so the joke goes. A rude awakening while dozing off is no excuse to resume heroin use. That’s common knowledge, and I’m no exception.
However, I was temporarily unable to access my better judgment. My brain’s circuitry is all screwed up. And there is no option for that.
Addiction consists primarily of compulsive behavior. Additionally, compulsion is defined as “an uncontrollable urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.” To injure me against my will is the most puzzling thing that has ever happened to me.
That’s why doctors have been stressing the importance of treating addiction as the medical problem that it is. “It is ethically obligatory upon everyone in medicine and health care to identify addiction not as a moral failing but as a treatable disease,” the Journal of Ethics of the American Medical Association wrote in 2020.
There is no cure for such illness, only treatment options. Furthermore, restoration is frequently elusive and non-linear. Interrupting the signals coming from my brain’s damaged circuitry is an important part of my healing.
When I arrived at my dealer’s house that day, that’s exactly what I did. So I called someone else who talked me out of phoning him. After finishing drug treatment, I promised myself that I would always contact someone first before starting to use again. After the phone call, I’d consider getting high again if I still wanted to. I stayed the course and lived to see another day, barely.
One good thought is all it takes to bring me down.
It is reasonable that even individuals who accept the scientific explanations for addiction have a difficult time coping with the physical manifestations of the disease. As a species, we poison those around us. We steal your money while also lying, gaslighting, manipulating, cheating, and driving under the influence.
The best of wishes won’t make us sensible. Our good behavior cannot be coerced. Our lives either end abruptly or end in despair. With any chance, it’s the latter, and we can seek assistance.
At 16 years old, I was seriously hurt by a drunk motorist. My jaw was broken and my skull was fractured in that catastrophe. A loved one of mine was killed by a drunk driver two days before Christmas. He was killed in a fire similar to the one that consumed Heche’s VW Bug when a truck fell on top of it. The implications of driving intoxicated are something I’m aware of.
I, too, have driven while under the influence of alcohol. We can’t accept this as reasonable.
Additionally, the fact that I am still alive and Heche is not defied by logic. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m more moral than other people. I don’t think I’m better than she is ethical. The odds are in my favor, so I count my blessings.
Those who wait to capitalize on the misfortunes of others are not among them. Tragedies now require people to pick sides and those who don’t expect to be embarrassed.
To me, it seems like we live in a terribly cruel world where mercy is only shown to the most well-behaved members of society. One from which I would probably make an effort to get away, if at all feasible.