Betty Ford backed into a life where she was celebrated as–if not a victim–then a sufferer. Sorry, not my cup of tea.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, July 15, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Betty Ford Isn't a Role Model for My Daughters–Sorry
It's not just, for me, that the Betty Ford Center has led us down the path of high-price, but meaningless, private 12-step treatment programs.
Nor is it because I don't comprehend Republicanism - which means never thinking about the good of other people, other than making them do what YOU think is the right thing.
I actually wouldn't think Betty Ford was genetically a Republican. She was soft-hearted.
But that's my problem with the Betty Ford model. She was roped into being a Republican, like it seemed she fell into everything else in her life. Her addictions (Valium and fairly low-key levels of alcohol) were a direct result of her seeming to be occupying someone else's space. She described her discomfort in the limelight of the White House - not the life she imagined or wanted for herself.
Betty Ford harkened back to the suburban housewife of the 1950s - the pre-sixties woman who wasn't free to have a career and select a destiny.
I know, Betty revealed her addictions so others could share theirs too. (My, that has turned into a cultural phenomenon, hasn't it?) I know she bared her breast cancer so other sufferers wouldn't feel alone. But this aspect of her life is just a little too martyr-like for me to find in it a path for others - and particularly young women, like my daughters.
I know, considering Betty Ford (that's Gerald's last name, did you know?), who needs me? My only claim to fame on this earth is that I invented myself and my destiny. And I deeply admire people who have done the same for themselves.
So I mourn the death of a nice person who wished nobody harm, and who tried to reach out to other people. But I wouldn't build a statue to her in the town square.