The Judith Life

Filters: Part One – That's Me

A few years ago, we took our son to the optometrist. Just a check up. He’d never complained about his vision. We just thought it was a good idea.
He needed glasses.
Looking back, I thought about the moments that we’d become frustrated with him, how he seemed to bang into things unnecessarily or when he’d over fill the drinks at supper.
It turns out, he couldn’t even see the numbers on his locker. But, for him, that was his world, his normal. He didn’t know he needed glasses. Neither did we. We thought everything was okay…


It was 2016. Barely. The first months had hardly pulled through before I found myself in a counselor’s office. It’s funny how just a few events can drive a person to ask for help. I knew myself well enough to know that I would try to work through it on my own. I also knew that this time, I needed a professional. Jane, my counselor. My “optometrist”.
After the second or third session, she laid out this observation, “Growing up, your family bears all the marks of an alcoholic family without the alcohol.” I had no idea what she meant. I made a stop at the library on my way home.
I picked up a few different books. Adult Children of Alcoholics was among the stack. Being thin, I thought it would be the easiest to read. Halfway through, there was a list of characteristics that described how ACOA’s see the world. It was the first line that held my attention.

  1. Adult children of alcoholics guess at what normal behavior is.
  2. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  3. Adult children of alcoholics lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  4. . . .

That’s me.
That’s me.
Two revelations rose to the surface.
I wasn’t alone. There were others that felt the same way. Second-guessed everything they did. Wondered what people thought about them with every move they made. This was me and someone else was experiencing the same insecurities.
I had no idea.
The other was that what I had always believed wasn’t true. I wasn’t alone. This was so important. What my brain (or the demons) had been telling me for so long was a lie. I wasn’t alone.
What else was I believing?
The next three months was spent smashing one belief after another. Jane sat with me, questioning what I’d say, validated what hurt, and asked questions that required investigation. Each week, I’d call my mom, asking her about timelines, memories, misunderstandings. She would sit on the other end and willingly walk into the past, looking for clues and adding clarification.
I began to question everything I thought.
When I began to think, I can’t do ____, I would ask myself why.
When I heard, No one cares, I would challenge it by reaching out to friends or family.
When, this is going to be hard, rang in my ears, I asked, Who says? Then I would attempt the thing to see how hard it really was.
I needed “glasses”. New ways of seeing life, different experiences that would shape my heart and my brain.
Not very far into counseling, Katy Perry stepped in and described exactly what I was walking through. Her song became my theme.
. . .
I’m wide awake
And now it’s clear to me
That everything you see
Ain’t always what it seems
I’m wide awake
Yeah, I was dreaming for so long
. . .
Thunder rumbling
Castles crumbling
I am trying to hold on
God knows that I tried
Seeing the bright side
But I’m not blind anymore
I’m wide awake
I’m wide awake
Here’s the thing.
Most of us are filtering our world through what we think we know: our past, our beliefs, what we’ve been told,  the experiences that shaped us. We believe them to be true. That people are out to get us, we can’t screw anything up, no one will ever love us, that we are alone, etc.
How much of it is really true?
Just like my son, who thought his normal was normal, we need to check. We need to ask if what we are seeing, feeling, thinking, experiencing is normal. Is it healthy? Is this true?
What don’t I know?
It’s the filters that we live by that deceive us so often and if we start to question them, or if we let someone in – be it a counselor or someone we admire – and ask if what we are seeing is correct, we might find out that our vision is not as clear as we’d thought.
This is our hope.
This is our redemption.
Who says?
Why not?

“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.” 
― Barbara Kingsolver

Photo Credit: SplitShire at

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