Each morning I rise, my routine is relatively the same with minor adjustments here and there. As I sit down to breakfast, with my coffee and cereal at hand, I also simultaneously watch my local ABC News, then Good Morning America and thoroughly read two local newspapers: The Bucks County Courier Times & The Philadelphia Inquirer. This morning, my reading of the Philadelphia Inquirer left me speechless. Nearing the end of my reading, I turned to the Magazine section of the newspaper, where the Celebrity News column called to me, as it so often does. Often when reading the Celebrity News column, it provides me with news I’ve either already heard, or is seemingly insignificant. Today, however, this was not in fact, the case at all.
Midway through the Celebrity News column, I stopped in my tracks, gasping at the name glaring back at me in the column, coupled with the words, “Rehab for Alcohol Dependence.” As an active ABC News watcher and follower of respective ABC News anchors, the name Elizabeth Vargas is synonymous to me, with 20/20 and her frequent “fill-ins” for several Good Morning America anchors. To me, she was poised, confident and secure in her persona and ability to provide individuals the news, as a seasoned journalist. Most times, I would look at her with either envy or awe, apart of me desperately wishing for the career she upheld. Sometimes, regrettably, I even perceived her as “proud, or stuffy, believing she felt she was above others.” Though, little did I know the private battles she waged. Hearing her struggles, I began to soften, as a sense of realism wavered over me. It is always my goal in life to be less judgmental and more understanding of people, trying to understand that people deal with their own issues in different, unique ways and may publicly present themselves as quite different than they actually are, deep down, in their private lives.
Seeing her on air, I perceived her as nearly “ideal,” or “perfect,” failing to recognize, that she, too, is human, just like me and that no matter her profession, it does not make her immune to the battles people can encounter each day, such as alcoholism. Hearing her publicly accept and profess her alcohol dependence and decision to enter treatment, I look to her with understanding and empathic eyes. To admit an addiction, especially publicly, is brave and courageous, especially for the profession she is in. As a journalist, she is expected to promote the news and provide it to individuals in a respected, confident, honest manner, so it only makes sense she would do this in revealing her private demons. Still, I had tears in my eyes as I read her issued statement on CNN.com, “Like so many people, I am dealing with addiction,” Vargas said in a statement to CNN Wednesday. “I realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol. I am in treatment and am so thankful for the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues at ABC News.” She also stated her hope that it will it give others “the courage to seek help.”
While before I looked at her as someone who might have been smug and overly-confident, today I look at her as someone who is human, honest and candid about her personal struggles and someone who I admire. She is proof to me, that people are simply human, no matter their income, education level, career, family, appearance, or anything else we check off on a demographic survey. She is who she is – a woman, a journalist, a mother, a friend, a wife, a colleague, perhaps an aunt, a cousin, a homeowner and to me, she is also strong and courageous. I couldn’t applaud her more for her bravery and honesty and today, I am keeping her close in my thoughts and hoping with all my heart for her recovery and path to wellness and health. I hope that in the coming hours, days, weeks and months, she will be able to live her life free of the battles living within her with the ability to enjoy her life to the fullest, returning to ABC News as the passionate journalist she is, inspiring other each day with her craft of the spoken and written word.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your honesty and bravery and for showing others that there is never a “wrong” or inconvenient time to accept help and to take a chance on overcoming the pain within us.