From the April 1985 magazine.

57 Varieties of Self-pity

SELF-PITY SOUNDS like an unmanly defect, yet statistics show that men commit suicide ten times as often as women, and surely self-pity is well represented in that figure. Most men are quick to admit anger, rage, and resentment (sometimes seeming to equate them with some kind of backhanded virtue), and I have spent many hours listening to stories about fights, altercations, and brutal beatings. Though I am not unfamiliar with these emotions, I know I drank to drown my sorrow. In the fight for life, self-pity almost buried me.

I was sober 122 days in Alcoholics Anonymous when I went on a five-day binge following a deep personal disappointment. The morning I sobered up over coffee and a rather shaky game of endless solitaire, I knew for an absolute certainty that unless I overcame self-pity, I was destined to die drunk. I also knew that I would have to go to any length to overcome this defect if I was ever to live sober, and so I began to read, to inquire, to study, and to pray over this thing in an attempt to eradicate it from my thoughts and from my life. Though I was fifty-five years old at the time, no one had ever told me, directly, that I would have to learn to control my thoughts and not just my actions.

-- D. O.

Tonawanda, New York

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