Jeff1 (1)An Italian friend, whose brother is struggling with recovery, wrote to me: I wanted to share this poem by Hemingway. During a meeting with my brother and the psychologist of the rehabilitation program, I found myself asking how could addiction happen to us and where is the brother we used to know. I hope that one day we can find the serenity to accept ourselves and to know that he is not only his addiction. He – and we with him – are better than that.

You are not your age,

Nor the size of the clothes you wear,

You are not a weight,

Or the color of your hair.

You are not your name,

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

You are all the books you read,

And all the words you speak,

You are your croaky morning voice,

And the smiles you try to hide,

You are the sweetness in your laughter,

And every tear you’ve cried,

You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,

You’re the places you’ve been too,

And the one that you call home,

You’re the things that you believe in,

And the people that you love,

You’re the photos in your bedroom,

And the future you dream of,

You’re made of so much beauty,

But it seems you forgot,

When you decided that you were defined,

By all the things you’re not. 

Today’s Promise to consider: My son is more than his addiction. Yes, it is a part of him as it is a part of us. But he is so much more. He is son and brother; he is kindness and loyalty; he is compassionate and smart; he is the sweetness of his laughter and the dreams he now dreams. He is his own person, who has his own God, his own life and his own loves. He is still the boy with a skip in his step.

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9 years ago

Dear Libby,

Thank you so much for posting the Hemingway beautiful poem. The poem is priceless! I love it!

It’s so true that when people get sucked into addiction, they are NOT their addiction. They are human beings that are loving, kind, loyal, and precious people inside.

I pray for all the people who are addicted. I pray they find sobriety so they may live the rest of their life without fear of the stigma attached to it.


pat nichols
pat nichols
9 years ago

Yes, so important for me to separate the disease from my child. Without the disease who would my child be? That is the question to ask myself. This question allows me understanding, compassion, love and HOPE to rise above the anger, grief and fear that addiction uses to control/destroy me and my other family members.

Addiction is a daily battle that does not stop even after recovery takes hold.

I learned a helpful technique that allowed me to put any situation that addiction threw at me in proper prospective. My mind would go into overload and the more chaos my son created the more chaos I created in my mind. This recreated my tunnel vision and I would lose my ability to react in a way that supported his recovery. So here is what I did, after I was confronted with the situation I would start my mental conversation with my first name. “Pat” I would say silently, this made me pause and think through all my positive and/or appropriate responses. It allowed me to bring into the conversation my education on addiction, my counseling sessions and the words from my Families Anonymous sponsor. And most importantly it let me focus on the fact I was speaking to the disease and not my son. Make this a habit and see what happens.

With love and compassion to all who suffer from this disease.

9 years ago

Well said Libby, Barbara, and Pat.

9 years ago

I agree Brenda. Thanks for the useful strategy Pat and your continued prayers Barbara and I love this post. Any word that labels can undermine the essence of a person– especially the word “addict” and even the word addiction can swallow me. We are humans struggling and suffering — all of us, at some level, with some thing at some time. When I remember that, compassion is the only answer. I think those of us here have learned that in a very deep way. Sometimes I think the journey is a vision quest -can I see through a loving God’s eyes? Can I listen like that? It’s worth trying.