by Lynda Hatcher
“We cast away priceless time in dreams, born of imagination, fed upon illusion, and put to death by reality.” —Judy Garland
Pat, my counselor for over twenty years, helped me to understand the psychological concept of illusions and how they can box us in to a way of thinking and perceiving our world. In our society, we’re attached to the illusions we’ve created for ourselves and our families; how we think we’re supposed to look to the outside world.
Thank God, I didn’t have to face the Instagram stories of adorable families in their clever lives—back when I was raising my children. Whether it’s a sold-out, solo performance in a dance recital or a blue-blazer accepting high-honors at graduation, these outward signs of shiny-accomplished-contented familyhood are imprinted in our DNA.
We look around us for signs that we’re on track
In our culture, kindergarten starts at ages five or six, college at eighteen, and dreams of marriage might be realized somewhere in the mid-to-late twenties. These milestones fall under our cultural consensus. We’re in tacit agreement about this timeline, how and when a young life is supposed to unfold.
But the truth is, this young life often doesn’t unfold in accordance with our plan, and if addiction enters the picture, all bets are off.
I saw very early that my son, Sam, wasn’t going to hit the marks on our cultural timeline, but I spent years trying to keep him on track. Over time, I endured crippling humiliation that he wasn’t walking in lockstep with his peers. And I ruminated about whether other parents had noticed.
My arms eventually got tired of holding up this whopping illusion
The burden became so unwieldy until finally, I had to let it crash to the ground. Physically and emotionally drained, I relaxed my torso and let the blood rush back into my extremities as I stood solidly in my own truth.
As painful as it might be, ‘doing your work’, as Pat calls the emotional chore of facing your reality, means challenging the illusions you’ve held for so long in a white-knuckled grip. The ‘work’ is to confront your own reality with the most awareness and availability you can muster on any given day. Some days, you’ll be more clear-eyed than others.
“So you wake up and you drift back to sleep,” Pat reminds me. “And you wake up again and you yawn and stretch, but then you fall back into a deeper sleep. It’s a process. Two steps forward, then take a nap. Reckoning with your own truth takes time.”
I asked Pat why it’s like that. She whispers with gentle authority, “because if you woke up all at once, it would just kill you,”
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
Mothering Addiction: A parent’s story of heartache, healing, and keeping the door open– by Linda Harrison Hatcher. Lynda’s website.
In Mothering Addiction, Lynda Harrison Hatcher tells a heart-wrenching story of her turbulent journey as the mother of a child who desperately struggled with heroin addiction–a story of the daily tests, constant trials, and unending tribulations of raising a son whose life has derailed by drugs. Lynda’s website.