Photo Credit: Audrey Melton

Photo Credit: Audrey Melton

A friend, whose brother is in recovery, wrote to me: We are living on a roller coaster with my brother. After two years of rehab, we see very little progress with him compared to other guys who started the program at the same time. Recently, I read a quote by Kurt Vonnegut that made a difference to me, “I am a human being, not a human doing.” It went straight to my heart and my mind as I thought about my brother’s addiction. We are all humans in an ongoing process of learning and failure. We aren’t our achievements and above all, our life is almost never linear.

My reflection: It’s easy to blame the addict for his failures, since his actions affect so many people. But the human condition is one of living and learning and making mistakes along the way. The prayer is that we learn from them and move toward health.

Today’s Promise to consider: Throughout the course of Jeff’s fourteen-year addiction, the keyword for me became compassion. Many days, compassion was impossible to muster, but as Kurt Vonnegut’s quote tells us, we are human beings – in our victories and in our failings. Today, I accept that I am human and so is my son.



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Diane Z.
Diane Z.
7 years ago

Yesterday, they found my 67-year-old brother. I feel so bad. He apparently died alone. He was severely alcoholic. I know there was nothing I could do and I did try but we can’t be saviors. This morning I thought, “we’re human beings!” And I cried. Now, I read your reflection from yesterday. This is so hard. My brother had a sad life; alcohol was his escape. May God have mercy.

7 years ago
Reply to  Diane Z.

My heartfelt sympathies to what you have had to endure, your brother’s struggles, and your loss. Cheryl in MD