I heard a thought-provoking quote today at the end of a segment on NPR: “Don’t let the ‘isms’ get in the way of the ‘is.” That resonated with me because I tend to look at my son through the lens of alcoholism/addiction instead of focusing on who he is today: a beautiful, earnest young man who works hard to make recovery his reality.
Before my son headed off to rehabilitation, I was wrapped around the axel of his messed up life. I was all consumed with fixing his mistakes, helping him with the fender benders, the lost paychecks, the academic woes. I didn’t have a name for the demons we were fighting, but I knew it was bad. That changed when he declared, “I am an alcoholic/addict.” I gained a name for the problem and shifted gears into the “ism” mode, seeing everything through the lens of addiction. My near-sightedness was especially pronounced in the early stages of his and my recovery because I was so conditioned to report on tornadoes that I could barely glimpse those emerging snippets of blue sky. I lost sight of my child entirely.
I recognized my myopic behavior and even asked another mother if I would ever be able to see him as anything but an alcoholic/addict. She assured me that I would gain the perspective to see beyond the “ism” as I disentangled myself from him. That’s taken a lot of hard work but three and a half years into my own recovery from co-dependent entwining, I have a much fuller picture of who he truly is. I don’t torture myself with a counterproductive label, and I am able to embrace him more fully, beauty marks and warts and all.