Don’t Categorize This.

We categorize and sort things:
Linen closet. Junk drawer. Shoe rack.
We differentiate and label people as well:
Type A. Neurotic. Extroverted.

Classification by the human brain is typically helpful. It is meant to move us quickly and efficiently through an increasingly busy and varied world.

There probably was a day when rapid generalization of objects and people wasn’t required. Possibly we had less things to sort and each thing had intrinsic value. That spoon was a spoon. (Not a silver spoon or a plastic spoon or a baby spoon.) Possibly at some point in time we all lived in small insular villages. Each inhabitant couldn’t be categorized by a singular adjective because they were too intimately known.

Addict = Junky.

Unfortunately, this characterization exists. And, to be honest, by the time an addict’s addiction has fully consumed them there is very little left by which to define them. Jobs, families, homes, hygiene, self respect, love….. all gone. The addict becomes the equivalent of an item in the proverbial “junk drawer”…..something that used to function, but is no longer useful.

But, just like those that know the value of that random fob or tube in their small kitchen junk drawer, those of us who parent children with substance abuse disorder know their inherent worth. They are valued and loved. And worthy of repair.

-The most stand out characteristic thing I can say about my son is when he enters a room and smiles the whole room lights up.

– My son is well read, a wicked movie buff, likable, handsome, has common sense, is a great athlete, loves fishing, boarding, and biking. (He has) so many amazing qualities which makes it so difficult to understand this disease.

– My son is so smart! He was offered the Abigail Adams award for 4 years of free tuition at any MA state university or college. If only he had accepted it. He’s also so generous and thoughtful. There were so many days that he would just show up at my work with a bouquet of flowers for no reason. And he has got the greatest personality. Of my 4 adult children, he’s the only one I can carry on a full, engaging, adult conversation with.

– My son ends every conversation or exit with love you.

– My daughter has a quick trigger – but also uses it for good. She is quick to call someone out when they have hurt another. Or to notice the injustice in situations she encounters. She is a defender, with a capital D. And twice on her birthday she had friends donate money to a local animal shelter instead of giving her a gift.

– (Even) when I visit my son in jail, he can tell a funny story and make me laugh…which is a good thing!

– My son is extremely sensitive. He is a hard worker, a talented musician, and a kind person. He loves to make people laugh even at his own expense. He is so sweet with his elderly grandmother who adores him.

– My son is an extremely hard worker and his staff always would say how much they loved working for him.

– My son loves animals and is very compassionate. He is passionate about his music and loves to read. Even when he was at his worst I always felt that he loved his dad and I. He is a vegan and always concerned about what happens to animals and to our planet. He tends to take care of people he meets that he feels are struggling like him.

– My daughter has a beautiful singing voice.

– My daughter gave away her winter jacket at a detox. “She needed it more,” is what she told me.

– My son is funny, charming and charismatic. He is a fighter and so tenacious for beating the odds and overcoming so many learning disabilities, stuttering, and of course heroin addiction…at least for now.

– One day my son came bustling into the kitchen looking for something to eat. He began making pbj sandwiches and putting them into a bag with gatorade bottles and chips. A little time went by and I looked out of the picture window and saw the top of two heads.  When I looked closer, it was my son and a stranger sitting on the porch step. The stranger was eating the food!  When my son came in a little later, I asked him about it.  The man was someone my son had met days before. He was homeless and hungry. My son told him if he was in need to come round and he would help. He also sent the man off with extra food, a comb, soap, bottled water, tooth paste, Tylenol, his old sleeping bag and rain poncho. That’s my son. I have NEVER loved another human being as much as I love my beautiful son.

– My addicted daughter used to tell me when she was little that she could see into the future, I always thought that it was a strange thing for a little kid to say.

I realize it is hard for many to see the humanity in those who have lost the ability to reflect their own human potential. And most likely the world will never be a perfect place. But fully seeing the marginalized amongst us….that helps bring the village back.