Chasing Normal



The more the addict descends into madness, the more the craving for normalcy rises in the family around them. We chase that which we no longer have – calm, peace and joy. We ask ourselves, what would our lives look like if addiction had never intruded into our reality? What would life be like if we were a normal family? How awesome would that be?

But chasing normalcy is a fool’s errand. Our lives are, in fact, no longer normal. Our sons and daughters, spouses and siblings have thrust their addictive choices into our existence. It’s here, it’s present, no matter how much we would rather it not be.

And the question often asked is “why?”

“Why” is, on its face, a useless question. Why it happened no longer matters. When asking that question, we wallow in self-pity and complain about our lives as compared to the happy families we see and hear so much about. But if we are prepared to go deep, “why” becomes the question.

Why does anything come into our lives?

What are we to do with the lives we have been given?

Grumble? Complain? Brag? Indulge?


I’ve been reading “The Big Book,” the AA, Alcoholics Anonymous book lately (more on that in a future post). I came across something last night that gave me great pause. “We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets. The alcoholic’s past thus becomes the principal asset of the family and frequently it’s the only one!”

Can we think of addiction as our greatest asset? It feels like just the opposite. But what would we do with our lives if we viewed it as an asset? Where would we go with it? What would we do with it?

Our “normal” may not be life in the Norman Rockwell sense. Our normal may be very abnormal as history would judge it. But what is clear is that we are not alone. We live in a time where addiction is all too common. So, where do we go with this? What do we do? How do we redefine normal?

I’ve decided that my first step is to stop chasing normal, to stop running after it as though I’ll be happy when I finally catch it. I’m going to observe this life for what it is, neither condoning it nor condemning it. I’m going to stop wanting something I don’t have, and see if I can somehow come to love what I do have.

Maybe, just maybe, in that quiet space in my mind, I’ll come to see how this could be our greatest family asset. Maybe if I stop raging against the machine, the machine will stop raging against me.