Paul Gascoigne (ex-British soccer player) has been hospitalized again. He was drunk and got into a fight after racially abusing some other guests. This is awful on many levels and racial abuse should never be tolerated but it’s important to point out that Paul Gascoigne is a really, really sick man.
It’s also important to not jump to the conclusion that Paul Gascoigne is a racist and he spoke the truth because he was drunk. I’ve heard the phrase ‘when you are drunk, you speak the truth’ repeated many times and feel the need to point out that it is a total myth.
You don’t speak the truth when you are drunk. What you do is speak a lot of old bollocks.
Alcohol doesn’t give us the courage to open our inner most thoughts and feelings to others. What it does do however, is open our inner life for everyone to see. And if your inner world is full of self-loathing, hatred, loneliness and desperation, then alcohol will manifest exactly that in your words and deeds. Far from revealing himself as a racist, Gascoigne was instead, revealing his own self-loathing. Racists remarks are so deplorable that they cause a very immediate and visceral reaction. This is probably the reaction Gascoigne’s own sub conscious was looking for. As it confirmed his view of himself: ‘I am so disgusting and un-lovable, who could bear to be near me?’ Let me do something really disgusting, so I can indeed, confirm my own disgusting-ness to myself?’
John Galliano and anti-Semitism
I wrote about this a few years ago when John Galliano similarly made some abhorrent anti-Semitic remarks that were made public. I argued then, that rather than see Galliano as an anti-Semite, it was actually the most disgusting thing, his sub-conscious could come up with, that would manifest how he felt about himself. His sub-conscious knew it would bring an immediate reaction that would push everyone away. That is exactly what alcoholism wants. It wants you alone, without friends and without hope. Because then all you have to turn to, is the drink.
I would never apologize for racists or anti-Semitism and full apologies and amends should always be made, regardless of when, or how these remarks were made. No exceptions. John Galliano went to rehab and then went to considerable lengths to atone and make amends for what he said. Gascoigne needs to do the same.
But I also believe Gascoigne needs our compassion. His downward spiral is continuing and his friends and family must be extremely worried about him.
Gascoigne and Galliano are both intelligent people, both of them in their stone-cold sober minds would know exactly what kind of reaction those comments would have. That’s exactly why their drunk selves said them.
What are we really communicating?
So when you hear someone who is drunk (and unhappy) say something out of character, or harmful, or hurtful. Look a bit closer. What is it they are actually trying to communicate? Communication isn’t always about the words we use. Many of us have feelings we are at a loss to express or process. If left this way then they will be manifested in our behavior. When we are disgusted with ourselves, it will come out in what we do. What we do, often speaks louder than what we say. And what we say, is often a cry for help from a dark and troubled soul.