LTYM Holiday Show

December 9, 2018

Last week I read a very difficult story at the first holiday Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother show.  I have struggled with alcohol most of my adult life.  In the last year, that problem escalated and began to enter my kids’ consciousness in a significant way.   My three children are in their younger teens, and they sat in the audience cheering on their LTYM programespecially imperfect mom.

I struggled mightily when my kids were  much younger.  Whenever I see parents feel that excruciating inadequacy, I often quip that I am happy to share my failings so they can confidently look down on me and feel better about their own parenting.  I laugh when I say it, but I am not kidding.

Over the years I have become downright evangelical in my desire to pierce the romanticized image of parenting, and any notion that becoming a parent makes us somehow better people.   Parenting is a hard enough load without carrying that lie around too.   It is in that spirit that I shared my story last week.

I have received so many kind words since the show, from friends and strangers alike.  They all say how brave it was.  I get that, but bravery does not seem quite relevant to me.

For me, reading that story in front of my children, my community, and a few hundred people I don’t know, was an act of self love.   To stand up and reveal the worst part of myself – to own it with neither shame or justification – is to accept myself where I am.  And that love extends to anyone mired in their own feelings of inadequacy.  It was an act of love toward my children, forever releasing them from any sense that they need to keep my problem a secret.  Addiction thrives on delusion, and secrecy and dishonesty bankroll delusion.

If I am able to address this problem effectively in my life, it is because I have grown into a deep enough love for myself that I am willing to tend to my deepest needs.   It is not unlike the mama bear reflex engaged when we believe our children are in danger.  We may take on risk, but not because we are innately brave.   Our bravery is rooted in the ferocity of our love.   The path to bravery is not drawing near to risk.  The path to bravery is to love oneself and our shared humanity so fiercely that we are unwilling to hide who we are, or stand idly by when we see injustice.