There are a lot of words, comments, and sentiments flying around the Internet right now addressing the loss of the great Philip Seymour Hoffman. While I didn’t know him, and didn’t follow him as much as some of you did, my heart broke on Sunday when I saw the news of another falling, and dying from addiction.
I will never claim to be an expert on addiction, and I definitely will not sit around debating with you on the topic, but I am up for calm conversation, eye-to-eye, hand-to-hand, heart-to-heart words shared about the topic. You see, Philip could have been my brother. Maybe he could have been your brother too, or you’re sister, your uncle, your aunt, your niece, your nephew, your mother or your father.
Addiction doesn’t distinguish in infecting celebrities, and it definitely doesn’t discriminate based upon status, wealth, poverty, race, or faith. You see the face of addiction everyday. Whether your realize it or not, the neighbor you share conversation with could be battling addiction, or the girl ringing up your latte at Starbucks could be trying to get sober.
All around us, around you, today you could be face-to-face with an addict. You see, these “addicts” are my brother, my father, and my friends. If you hear their stories, and look them in the eye, you will see, you will hear, how addiction has changed them, how sobriety is a daily choice, a weekly choice, a yearly choice to stay clean.
They know something that you don’t know. They have battled something that you don’t understand, and to say that you can fathom what its been like to walk a mile in their shoes is naïve at best. You will never know, I will never know, what its been like to stare in a toilet dropping hundreds of pills and choosing to walk away. You and I cannot understand what its to like to call a dealer for a delivery in the middle of the night to get a high. We just won’t. We just don’t.
And I understand there is a space between their disease and our judgments. I am a “normie”, and what separates me from them is a disease. I will draw a line in the sand; I will stand my ground, on that belief. I have seen addiction rear its ugly head way too much in the past years, and I believe that this disease is as sickening, as rabid and as haunting as cancer.
I am the sister of an addict. I have watched how choices he has made have changed our family. I have been on the other end of the phone call where I didn’t know if he would live. Multiple times.
So, call me crazy, call him selfish, call it what you will. But, for me, it’s just my life. It’s come as close to home as cancer has for many of you. Whether it is addiction, or cancer, these diseases have infiltrated and permeated into our hearts, our homes and our lives. They have robbed you of loved ones, they have broken you in two, they have split the screen on what you previously though, and what you think now.
Most of all, I think we can all agree, if you have been touched by addiction, whether be it an addict yourself, or have a family member who is one, I think we can loudly agree it’s changed our lives more than we thought possible.
So, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, when we look at one another, when we look eye-to-eye, and share heart-to-heart, we will acknowledge the many faces of addiction. We will nod to the “addicts”, and to the “normies” alike, we will scream and shout and hate this disease, and we will champion and cheer on the battle to wellness and health and sobriety. Because hell, what their doing is hard work.
Maybe when we think of the magnitude of those battling this disease, when we think of their family and friends too, all of us fighting, could we possibly be less quick to judge, and quicker to love? Maybe we will applaud the addict on their first day of sobriety just as much as we congratulate them on their first year. Maybe we will pick of the phone and call a friend whose sibling is struggling with addiction, and say we hate it for them, so much, so damn much. Just as much as we hate the cancer that’s hurt and haunted so many.
Maybe we could put our judgments aside, lay it all down, for our friends and family who are addicts, and for our friends and family who have been rocked by addiction. Maybe it’s less of the fight to be right, and more about the battle to love in the midst of the darkness of the disease.
I know one thing, of this I am sure – you see more faces of addiction that you realize. Let’s educate, but let’s also love. Lets advocate and support, and fight this nasty battle together, hand-in-hand, heart-to-heart, today, tomorrow, and next year; for my brother, and maybe yours too.