A couple of "ism's" and "ic's" captured circa 2003.

My name is Brody, and I'm an alcoholic.

Alcohol was just one of a continuum of substances and practices I used to try and fill the daily sense of dis-ease I felt in American culture. In a world of uncertainty, the one thing I felt I had absolute control over was my body. Obsessive compulsive rituals, cutting, smoking, compulsive exercise, food control, sex, relationships, drinking… I could describe myself  via any number of behaviors and clinical -ism’s  and -ia’s.


But in the end, all these behaviors are symptomatic of something far deeper. I made the mistake of forsaking any personal cultivation of spirit and set myself up for a life of duality–my mind vs. the world. Years of steady outward success masked the private tyrrany of my intellect over my body and spirit and the slew of behaviors I took on to dull the lack produced by the fiction of  separate self.


I didn’t trust this idea of a separate, discrete self, so I played with it, producing five different socially-recognized personas. On July 25, 2005, we all wound up lying in the train tracks. And strangers gave us a second chance to live a sober life and rethink identity.


Though I’ve been sober since August 3, 2005, I’m not perfect. Resentments, caffeine, needing to be right, people-pleasing…all of these things can be just as powerful as alcohol in feeding my sense of ego and separation.


Join the Conversation: ism's and ia's

  • From alcoholism to fundamentalism from anorexia to homophobia, what are the -ism’s and -ia’s that have caused a sense of separation or challenge in your life? How have you worked through them?
  • Diagnosis with a condition can lead to treatment and support. The labeling of an -ism or -ia can also become an identity in and of itself. How have you found a balance between naming/managing a condition and being defined by it?
  • How do you foster a sense of spirit and spirituality? Is it linked to, or distinct from organized religious traditions?


Share your thoughts and comments in the “-ism’s and -ia’s” blog feed below, and I’ll keep adding mine as well.


Join the conversation