Recently I was reminded of “indirect consequences”. For almost everything in life, we have “natural consequences” to bear for our mindlessness. I have written about these before. Forget your jacket, you’re cold. Forget your lunch, you’re hungry. Stay up too late, you’re tired. These consequences occur naturally. These are consequences that we can easily see and comprehend. These are the consequences for which we have a direct correlation with the acts that resulted in them.
LOGICAL (IMPOSED) CONSEQUENCES
Then we have logical consequences. Some of those occur because we broke the law. As such, we are fined and/or imprisoned. Some of those are team or group consequences. We could have to sit out a game or two because we missed practice. And if our actions and behaviors cross the team or group boundaries, we could simply get kicked off the team or out of the group. And of course we have relationship consequences. While those influence our decisions on whether or not to hold ourselves accountable and responsible for our action(s) and behavior(s), it has a profound impact on all of those connected to and involved with us.
But indirect consequences take it a step further. These are all of the unforeseen consequences that occur as collateral damage regardless of the natural or logical consequences. Jerry, already suffering the consequences of his addiction both naturally and imposed, must deal with all of his indirect consequences.
As a result of Jerry’s* inappropriate sexual and pornography conduct, or misconduct as the case may be, his wife who was chartered with paying all of the bills simply ignored his. It wasn’t so much of an act of deliberate or malicious intent. She had to make some hard choices and prioritize whether or not to feed the family or pay his bills. She had to decide whether paying for electricity was more important than paying his credit card bill which he used incidentally to indulge in all of those miscellaneous and sundry activities of betrayal. She had to decide whether she was going to put the safety, security, and sanity of everyone in her family in front and ahead of his addictive sexual action(s) and behavior(s). His overall credit worthiness dwindled to the point where he was no longer trusted financially anywhere. He couldn’t rent a car because of it. His car insurance skyrocketed to a point he could no longer afford it because of it. He couldn’t finance anything at all because of it.
Jerry had multiple successes and failures depending on the state of his addiction at the time of his employment. For all practical purposes, he had a good reputation for quality. Where he was lacking was in his quantity of work because he was far too consumed, busy searching for and watching pornography. Jerry wasn’t able to keep up with work demands because of his addiction interference with work. Jerry was caught in a sweeping internal company wide audit that resulted in his immediate termination of employment when it was discovered that he was utilizing company provided computer and network resources to engage in pornography. One might argue that this was a direct consequence, and that would be correct. However, the indirect consequence was that he lost his employment pension. He lost his 27 years of seniority of employment. He lost some very coveted employee provided benefits. And he lost his ability to seek employment elsewhere as he could not utilize his former employer as a reference.
Jerry’s health deteriorated to the point where he had high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and as a result, advanced stages of cardiovascular disease because he ignored his addiction and ensuing health risks. Ultimately, he had a heart attack. This is very significant because now Jerry is faced with imminent premature death as his mortality rate has significantly been reduced by years, if not decades. It affects every aspect of his day to day life.
It goes without saying that Jerry has lost relationships. For starters, Jerry is now divorced after 25+ years of marriage. His children are estranged. While these are a direct consequence of his addiction, there are others that are not so direct, or indirect if you will. Thanksgiving Dinner? Gone! Christmas with the family? Gone! Birthdays, Anniversaries (Not that his Wedding Anniversary exists anymore), and Graduations? Gone!
“There is nothing quite like requesting “Solitary Confinement” as a Birthday or Father’s Day gift only to realize that that’s all that you have anymore. Be careful what you wish for.”
He’s lost friendships, colleagues, and acquaintances that have spanned decades as they have judged him, not because he ever did anything to them, but because they for reasons only they can determine, have decidedly severed their relationship with him.
Jerry has dug himself a hole, and Alice […in Wonderland] is not very happy about it, let alone the White Rabbit whose hole he collapsed in the process. And he has fallen into it. Now he has to figure out how to climb out of it without a ladder, without a rope, and without a support system to help him. He wanted to be alone so he could engage in his addictive sexual behavior. Now that he has gotten what he wished for, his wish is not quite as appealing anymore. Make no mistake. It all came crashing down like a building under demolition as if he pushed the button himself setting off a series of explosions in a chain reaction. Nothing was left of it but the debris field he left behind. Jerry did this.
There are plenty of other indirect consequences that Jerry faces. He lost his home. He lost his vehicle. He lost his independence. The addiction always takes priority and precedence over anything and everything else. So when you evaluate the consequences of your actions and behaviors, rest assured that if you haven’t taken into account all of them; natural, logical, and indirect that you had not anticipated, let alone prepared for, prepare yourself for some nasty little surprises that are destined to come your way and become a part of your story.
*Jerry’s name has been changed to protect his identity.