This column will be a bit different than previous installments. There will be no actual Mundie Awards at the end. My goal with this column series is to offer my experiences, struggles, challenges and successes, both in life and fantasy football, to help however I can. I have a lot to say about acceptance in both arenas.
And now, “The Mundies.”
Let’s get right to it. I was high during the births of both of my daughters. Admitting that to my wife was a low point in my life.
She had recently discovered I relapsed and all of the details she rightly deserved were being asked for. At first, I panicked and lied that I had only been getting loaded since right after our second daughter was born. The panic centered around admitting it to my wife, but also to myself. Obviously, I knew already, but something about saying the words out loud ripped me apart inside.
Addiction is a nasty beast. Addiction is relentless, it never tires. I compare it to a moment in Season 2 Episode 1 of “The Walking Dead,” when Rick and Carol’s daughter, Sophia [Madison Lintz], become separated from the group and are running for their lives. At one point, exhausted, Rick says something like he gets tired but the zombies do not. The zombies are the addiction. A never-ending thirst that can never be quenched, but it never wavers in its quest to quench the thirst.
This low point of my life was in early January of 2017. Things got worse before they got better, but luckily my wife gave me yet another chance. I and our relationship have come a long way since that cold, snowy morning in 2017.
On Jan. 9, 2022, I will have 5-years clean, the most clean time I’ve had since before I started drinking sophomore year of high school (1996).
The life of a recovering addict can be a roller coaster. Mine certainly has been. There is so much more to it than just not using drugs. The first time I got clean (2008) I assumed not using drugs would magically fix all my problems. The problem with that mindset is it ignores much of the context that leads to active addiction.
I have discussed many of the reasons I used drugs in previous columns, but in a nut shell, it was always about trying to change the way I felt. Taking the drugs out of that scenario as my ill-conceived solution does not eliminate that want to not feel what I am feeling. That is certainly still there from time to time. Less these days, but still alive and well.
The reality of the situation was and still is that getting clean is just the first step, a mandatory step (for me) in order to start the process of working to improve – as a husband, a father and a human. A “Productive member of society” is often uttered in my program of recovery. This concept is subjective, but for me, it simply means trying to be a good person, good to those around me and good to myself.
The artist Santigold, in her song “I Don’t Want,” says “Don’t want to be a fake/ I don’t want to beg / I don’t want to be a waste”
I also don’t want to be a waste. Part of that was getting clean. Part of that is daily vigilance in an effort to stay clean. And part of that is also taking advantage of this fourth chance (maybe fifth, maybe more) to be the person I wanted to be when I was younger.
Back to that horrible day in 2017. No matter how it makes me feel now to think about it, I had to accept it. I’ve had to accept many things about myself that I wish were different. It has not been easy. I’m not here to tell you the concept of acceptance is easy. For me quite the opposite.
For a while, when I said “I’m Scott and I’m an addict,” I still had not accepted that I was an addict. I wasn’t one of those screw-ups. I never used needles so it wasn’t that bad. It was nonsensical bullshit in retrospect. That was denial. That was my inner-addict attempting to leave a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to actively using drugs.
My breakthrough with acceptance was when I finally realized that the things I’ve done, the decisions I’ve made, the actions I had taken, etc. What I learned is that bad decisions do not have to equal to a bad person. I don’t blame drug use as some sort of excuse. There have been consequences I’ve had to accept. For instance, beyond the typical direct consequences, I dwelled on all of the life I missed out on during my active addiction. And that dwelling and stressing over days gone by only perpetuated my dislike of myself that had been a contributing factor of my self-medicating to begin with.
Over time I’ve come to accept a lot of my past that used to keep me up at night, and an interesting result occurred. I slowly stopped hating myself. And by “over time,” I mean trips around the sun. This is something I try to emphasize in my endeavors to use my experiences to help people enduring similar struggles. This stuff takes time. More for some, less for others, but just know it took a long time for me.
I still fight with it.
I mentioned “daily vigilance,” this is part of that. I’ve been in a seemingly hopeless place many times. When you’ve treated yourself like shit for so long it’s difficult to envision things being any other way. But I’m telling you it can be. And I’ll keep telling you it can, over and over again, until it is.
All I can do is try to give back what has been and continues to be so freely given to me. I talked about finally realizing all the crap I pulled doesn’t make me a bad person. But it took other people telling me that, over and over again, for years, before I finally accepted that and was able to remove my own steel-toed boot out of my ass.
So I’m going to keep trying to help people in the same manner. It’s not easy, that much is obvious, but it is possible, I am proof of that.
I was high during the births of both my girls. But that was then. I’ve accepted that. I’m not high right now. And I am lucky and blessed enough to be able to give this dad thing my best shot.
I am lucky because many people with a similar story to mine, who had many years of active addiction and a multi-year relapse, simply don’t survive. I am truly blessed to still be alive and have this chance for happiness.
And for me, none of any of this is possible without acceptance.
Acceptance in Fantasy Football
Acceptance is a somewhat universal principle and is important in many contexts, including fantasy football. In dynasty formats, for example, acceptance comes into play if your team is not looking like a contender. The sooner you accept that reality the sooner you can start redirecting your strategy.
I have been playing fantasy football since 2007, and one of the single most important lessons I’ve learned involves acceptance. Accepting when I am wrong. A preseason take on a player, a start/sit decision or a trade that backfires are all the things we all get wrong from time to time.
In my earlier days, I would cling tightly to a take, needing to be right, cherry-picking statistics, making excuses, the typical dance we see every day, led by my ego and emotions.
First, that tactic is pretty obvious to everyone (including me when I’m authoring it). Second, all I’m doing is delaying or, worse yet, completely missing the opportunity to shed light on two very important things: Why was I wrong and what can that teach me to increase my chances of being right the next time?
Oh and bad beats. No way around it, bad beats are the worst, a real gut punch metaphorically. In Week 6 I lost a matchup by 0.3 points (3 yards) on Najee Harris’ only overtime carry on “Sunday Night Football.” How many times did I check for a stat correction last week? An embarrassing number of times. But I used to let something like that eat at me all week, and irrationally question my abilities and intelligence. The sooner I accept it, the better off I am moving into the next week.
I’ll leave you with this. I mentioned earlier the importance of my realization that past bad behavior does not have to equal a bad person. This concept applies to fantasy football as well.
Like everyone, I’ve had bad drafts. I’ve picked up the wrong players on waivers. I’ve made the wrong start/sit decision where starting the other option would have meant a win instead of a loss. I’ve allowed take-lock to waste roster spots for far too long. Less than ideal results can trigger the “itty bitty shitty committee” in my head to start chipping away at my confidence. The voice in my head says things like “You went 5-10 in your fantasy matchups this week, you suck at this.” I know I’m not alone in this. How have I improved at quieting that voice? Acceptance.
If you had a bad draft, if your teams kind of suck this year, or more of your takes have been wrong than right – whether you’re a manager or an analyst – it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at fantasy football or analysis, just like being high during milestones in my life doesn’t make me a bad person.
What do we do about it, how do we improve? Those crucial questions, in life and in fantasy football, likely go unasked without acceptance.
Writing new and different editions of “The Mundies” will be a lot of fun, but I’d love some help. If you have ideas, hit me up, and I’ll include a shout-out for any suggestions used.
And as always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.