Voices on Addiction: System Failure
Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless, that our lives had become unmanageable.
One day in May, I stole my dad’s car keys. I was almost sixteen, mostly quiet, occasionally dramatic. But that day, I didn’t slam the door. He wouldn’t know, wouldn’t hear me leave because I pulled the knob soft, barely closed.
It was another afternoon of my dad and me at home together, trapped in orbit for the hours between the end of school and when Mama got back from work at the big-box store. Maybe he’d yelled or, worse, wept. Maybe he ranted—about chances he never had, early wounds that never closed. Maybe he just tried to talk to me. My dad’s voice was warm and deep and versatile as a bass clarinet. But a small change in his voice could set me off, send me slamming doors. Right away, I’d spot it: the too-careful pretense of lucidity.
I climbed into the new car he’d bought that spring. I had gotten off the bus and walked the half-mile to our house, and he wasn’t there. When Mama arrived, he still wasn’t back, but she didn’t show worry. She said he’d called her at work and told her to pick red or blue. Soon he pulled into the driveway with a “patriot blue” Chrysler, his old car traded away. It was a whim, a surprise that no one asked for. By now, he hadn’t been sober enough to use the car in months.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was still in the CD player, the album paused in the middle of the call-and-response of “With a Little Help from My Friends.” What do you see when you turn out the light? the band asks, and Ringo Starr squawks back earnestly, I can’t tell you, but I know— I hit the “seek” button. Couldn’t stand that song, or that version of it anyway. In my opinion, this album, which so many called the Beatles’s masterpiece, was mostly hokey and scattershot. I skipped all the way to the last track, “A Day in the Life.” I liked it less than any other Beatles song, but I thought about it even when it wasn’t playing.
That sunny day was the first time I drove a car by myself. I breathed hard, drove slowly, clutched the wheel at 10 and 2. I took the two-mile back road—running parallel to the Meramec River before it ran into the Mississippi. Trees pushed in on all sides. Pumped the brake before every narrow turn.
I pictured my dad: bare heels rigid on the carpet, thin pajamas over his knees. I knew where he kept the vodka: in the drawer of his bedside table, beside a rarely opened bible. Where had he gotten it? Maybe taken from some motel room. I pictured him reaching for the lukewarm bottle. Looking out the window at the trees. I pictured him unconscious on the bathroom floor. Maybe he was dreaming. Maybe his bones were glass reeds, air blowing through them. Maybe he was thinking of Mama, wishing her home. He would repeat to me, Her heart is just so, so big—like he was blaming her for something.
I made it to the river. Put the car in park. Walked the trail under dogwoods and hickories, hands shaking. At the planked overlook on the bluff, I went to the rail and looked east. Below was the state line, the wide brown Mississippi. I looked out over Illinois. Imagined I could see past the horizon.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
My dad had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, on and off, for a couple of years. In solidarity, Mama and I went periodically to Al-Anon meetings in the basement of our church, where white-haired ladies in crewneck sweatshirts sat around a table lit like an interrogation room. It smelled like cigarettes even though no one was smoking. One of those women suggested Mama should come alone to their meetings and I could go someplace else. I was a teenager after all. Mama dropped me off at my first Alateen meeting, in a YMCA out-building that shared a parking lot with the hospital. In a fluorescent-lit circle of folding chairs, I identified myself as the child of an alcoholic. Two adults, like reluctant camp counselors, handed out pamphlets with Schoolhouse Rock!-style characters on the front and mantras to repeat when things got tough.
The other kids were around my age, between thirteen and sixteen, white and middle-class-ish like most people in that part of south St. Louis. We all showed up clothed and fed. We all went to public school in underfunded districts. These kids were like a lot of kids I grew up around but wasn’t friends with. Or wasn’t friends with anymore. I thought they were kind of dense, the slogans cheesy. All of it, too simple.
But then the girl with a roll of pale skin like caulk sealing the hem of her T-shirt to the waist of her jeans would say something like, “And all the time I’m trying to explain what happened, and my mom just keeps screaming at me. And I’m about to cry or punch the wall or my sister again—I mean, go off.” She pushes stringy hair out of her face. “Then I think: We’re not talking the same language. No matter how loud I get, or she gets, we don’t make sense to each other. She can’t even hear me. So, I drop it. Go to my room, do homework, whatever.”
“That’s right,” the sponsors would say, pointing to a poster. “Can’t Apply Logic to an Illogical Situation.”
Even then, I was composing for the group the story of that last fight with my dad. Taking the car, driving to the river. How I calmed down and went home, and he never knew I’d been gone. Which slogan I might apply: “Easy Does It” or “Live and Let Live” or “Making Crises Work for You!”
One night we took a survey to determine which role we played in our alcoholic family: The Caretaker, the Clown, the Scapegoat, the Lost Child. I thought: Mama, Mama, Dad, Dad. My results said I was The Hero. I agreed. Maybe there’s something to this, I thought, as long as it works. In the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, the founder originally wrote, “Never have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” Or so the story went. I believed that in our three separate meetings, my parents and I were working on different aspects of the problem. There could be steps to even the biggest problems: identify the underlying issue, brainstorm actionable solutions, etc. I figured if I smoothed out my own edges, I could fix my dad too.
Before the school year let out, a boy said, “You wanna go to the Castle? I’ll draw you a map.” He pushed his pencil nub into my bare back, between my shoulder blades, telling me he would prove it existed. I figured he liked me, wondered when we would kiss. He drew a map: blue squiggles on college-rule paper, two pieces stuck together, not with tape, but only if you held them touching just-so.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over.
Start in the park on the bluffs by the river.
Follow the trail past the wooden overlook into the trees.
When the path curves right, follow the dry creek bed.
Come to a chain-link fence and a wall of scrap metal. Stop.
The sign said No Trespassing. To the left, the hill dropped away. The boy quickstepped around it, and I followed, surprised I could. He led us to a spot in the fence where the chain-link had been pressed down and held with branches. He hopped up and over onto the other side. “Don’t use your hands,” he said. “Good thing I’ve got my tetanus shot,” I said. The fence wobbled under my weight, and I leaped down.
I followed him up a grassy hill. The trees cleared, and blue sky rushed in. The tendrils of a low stone wall began to the left. I skimmed my hand over it, picking up powder. Suddenly a steel tower loomed at the crest of the hill, a few hundred feet high, painted red and white like a spidery Transformer. Power cables weighing half a million pounds stretched all the way across the river. This land belonged to the Union Electric company, which explained the sign, the fence, the periodic patrols, the coal-burning plumes on the other side of the canopy.
The wall turned at a right angle, and the boy told me to look over the edge. The drop-off stretched straight down, thirty feet, and I gasped. It was a bramble-covered kingdom, an Art Deco Sleeping Beauty. It was ruins. We could see a large courtyard: rows of Grecian columns, paved pathways, cracked pottery, overflowing bouquets carved into the limestone walls. I imagined spritzing fountains and the sunken gardens lit up with hurricane lamps. We ducked through a tunnel of high grasses and emerged at the landing of a grand staircase. Walked slowly down all fifty steps, careful of upturned flagstones.
How I remember that first day there: brimming with light. Blue sky, pale limestone, all the boy’s straight white teeth, easily offered. We stood side by side on the ledge. He had stones in his hand. I figured he chose them carefully—not flat, smooth pebbles for skipping, but for throwing, for distance.
“How much you wanna bet I can throw this rock into the river?”
“No way you can hit it from here.”
“Sure can. I played baseball.”
“You hit the river and I’ll swim to Illinois.”
“How much you wanna bet?” He waited for my answer. I didn’t know where to start.
Then he reached back, so sure, and threw. Over the wind and trees and space, I would’ve sworn I heard a splash. I asked him to tell me all the local legends about the Castle: who built it, abandoned it, why. He didn’t believe any of the stories, but he told me anyway. A man traveled from far away and found his fortune. He fell in love, married her. He came from an old country with castles and wanted to build one for his wife, right here, high above the Mississippi. But something went wrong during construction—some say he lost his money; some say he lost his wife. We stood on the ledge and he said, “So this was where he jumped.”
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless inventory.
My dad, forty-six years old, began to talk about writing his memoirs. Another day, he was going to play the guitars he kept in the basement. “I’ve got songs in my head,” he said, though the only real original I’d heard him sing was a lullaby with my name in it. Another day, he was going to be a freelance corporate loss-prevention consultant. He was going to run a liquor-store franchise. He was going to market his homemade soup recipes. All the stories he’d told me at bedtime, he was going to publish online. Some of these things he did, part-way. He bought a domain name. Some days I heard him downstairs in the basement, the door closed. I listened at the railing as he picked out notes. I never recognized a melody. When he switched to the Stratocaster, the sounds were less like chords, more like moans. I thought of “A Day in the Life”: I couldn’t square how a reflective pop song could keep breaking down into demonic orchestral crescendos. It hurt my ears and I hardly ever made it to the end.
But some days were soup days. Summer into winter into spring, I came home from school and there he might be: my dad, as I remembered him. Six-foot-four, broad-shouldered, 240 pounds, a wave of salt-and-pepper hair, look-twice handsome, immaculately dressed for the job he no longer had in a bold collared shirt and tie, brandishing a wooden ladle above a steaming pot on the stove. Sometimes I cringed at this brittle optimism, but a soup day meant he had gotten out of bed. We sat together at the round kitchen table and sipped slowly.
I grabbed the Rolling Stone in front of his chair. I preferred when we talked rock and roll, and books. When he left psychedelic records and dusty copies of Vonnegut and Philip Larkin’s High Windows on my bedside table, tucked with a carefully lettered notes about how he thought I would get this.
He scanned The Economist and Discover, folded down articles and planetary illustrations for me. I scoffed and slid them back across the table. I loved puzzles and some math—the snug balance of algebraic equations, the code-breaking of matrices—but I was suspicious of whatever systems those magazines claimed to explain. My favorite part of science was when it tried to contain but ended up merely pointing towards vastness, unknowability. My favorite part of religion was free will. A couple years before, at my Confirmation ceremony, I stood up in front of the congregation in a sundress and cardigan and said the closest I might get to “faith” was an unending search. Mama was teary, but I think my dad admired my rigor.
We passed the newspaper, section by section. The world felt like a chaotic collage. I could catch scraps, memorize them, try to fit them together.
We went to the Castle when we wanted to be alone. We went to the Castle when we wanted to be together. When we wanted to show off, when we wanted an adventure. We went in winter when the clouds were low. Sometimes we went the hard way: our fingers in the chain-link fence, swinging down the steep slope to the river, the earth at a violent tilt. We scrambled up the gravel onto the railroad tracks, balanced on the rusted beams. We climbed through saplings on the power-plant side of the ruins, gave each other a leg up over the seven-foot walls. Sometimes we got chased off by a Union Electric employee in a pick-up. The Castle was our place, though a century of trespassing teenagers had engraved their names and crushes inside the gazebo’s miniature vaulted roof. We stood on the ledge and waved to barges in the Mississippi. We watched the trains, still running at unpredictable hours, speculated whether we could land an empty soda can in the piles of coal.
We talked about God or the lack thereof. The boy had been in Catholic school his whole life—his brother was going to be a priest—but he was sick of the whole hypocritical business. I said the only prayer I believed was from AA: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. “That’s pretty good,” he said, “but that’s not a prayer.”
I’ve read that the alcoholic suffers from a lack of wheat in his physicochemical make-up. Therefore, the abuse of alcohol, the dependency, simply follows the need for that missing element. Maybe you’ve heard how alcoholism is a dependence learned in childhood, determined by environment, parentage, peers. Maybe you’re familiar with the term “chemical imbalance.” Maybe alcoholism can be contained within AA’s term: “an illness.” Some bodies, some brains are more genetically vulnerable to sadness. More susceptible to the rush of substances. Impulsive, then compulsive, then biological. More likely to go down, unable to come back up.
Step 5: Admitted to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
I’d heard my dad’s reasons. I tried to fill in the blanks:
My dad is an alcoholic because he abuses alcohol.
My dad abuses alcohol because he is depressed.
He is depressed because he despairs.
He despairs because he is irreparably wounded by the past.
My dad is depressed because he is irreparably wounded because he despairs because he is an alcoholic.
According to the founder of AA, “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”
I’d read all the pamphlets, heard the sermons. I’d begun to notice that nobody in Al-Anon or Alateen seemed to figure out an effective strategy for living with the addiction in their homes. That my dad’s new friends—from AA, then Crossroads, Eric Clapton’s expensive tropical treatment center, then the roadside halfway houses he ran away to—never seemed to get any better. They said it right out loud: Keep coming back. When we attended church, my dad would ask, “Don’t you find it disturbing,” sticking a finger into the seam of the service program, “that the list of people to pray for just keeps getting longer and longer?”
At school, I watched the clock and pictured him at home. I wondered how I’d find him when I got there. Maybe he’d be passed out, maybe he’d want to talk. Maybe he’d be on a long hike to the liquor store over the Meramec bridge, the one where the gas pumps out front are dry. Once I found him in the reeds along the river, his legs cut up from a fall. Rivulets of red down his shins, into the tops of his white socks.
I started writing a story where nothing seems to happen. About a man who doesn’t leave his house, but looks out the window, drinks or tries not to, struggles to hold it together, travels back through his mind through his life. He’s deciding whether to kill himself. I would call it “A Day in the Life” like the Beatles song. The man’s thoughts would jump-cut like those lyrics, scraps of headline—He blew his mind out in a car—into deadpan existential spiral—He didn’t notice that the lights had changed. That song is multiple dissonant songs spliced together, which felt true to me, and terrible. Twice, the singer reaches out for someone else: I’d love to turn you on. And that gesture distorts and dissolves, the voice overtaken by an overdubbed forty-piece orchestra playing every note, from the lowest possible to the very top, over twenty-four interminable bars in apocalyptic glissando. As Lennon wanted it: “a tremendous build-up, from nothing to something absolutely like the end of the world.”
One day I called the boy from the side of the road. My dad and I had fought, yelled and cried, each of us flailing at the other, stranded. My head was swarming with noise. A banner from Alateen: Remember that you are dealing with alcohol: cunning, baffling, powerful! I ran out, made it to the shoulder of the main road. I watched cars rush by. I asked the boy if he would come get me. He took a long time to answer. I could be cloudy, tangled, occasionally dramatic, wanting all the attention he reserved for his buddies. “Please?” I said. “I’m fine. I just—” He eventually said yes, and this time he took me to his parents’ windowless basement, and we made out for hours until he fell asleep.
Pressed into the crease of the old couch, the boy’s skin warmed me. His breathing went steady and soft, and I lay there wondering about that one instant when awake turns to sleep and sleep turns to dream. I’ve always been very good at falling asleep: I’d close my eyes and imagine falling through blackness. A sudden cracked ledge, the give of space. Then the heavy tug on your eyes and throat. And then: the body is weightless and lost, a forgetting so complete it’s already forgot. But is there one moment of conscious letting go, a decision to turn over your will? When the boy nudged me awake, it was after dark and I was sure that this was love.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
That morning in late April, my dad said he felt sick. He felt weak. We believed him. He looked bloated in his belly and long calves. His skin stained yellow. Mama took him to the hospital. They said he needed to stay for treatment. A week passed. Two. The school year sloped steeply into summer. One day, I went to see him with a square of paper in my pocket. I had carefully lettered four lines of a poem we’d been given in English class that morning, and I was trying to memorize it. He was asleep when I entered the room, dim-lit by flickering machines. Hologram fireflies, I thought. Bare walls like snowdrift piled in the gutter.
Even then, I couldn’t see anything around me without the crutch of metaphor. Even then, I thought a few borrowed lines could inspire him to change, to stop, to get better. Poetry—lyrics infused with music, arranged into transcendent patterns—meant something to him as it did to me, right? The woods are lovely, dark & deep / But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep. I stood still and looked him over in the railed bed, a slip of air between his lips. I remembered being very small, climbing the wall of the brown recliner onto the ledge of his lap. His closed, dark eyes. “Daddy,” I would whisper, as Mama lifted him to his feet, “it’s bedtime.” He taught me tenderness. He was my first subject, the first one who needed my care.
Voices in the doorway—someone hit the switch and the overhead lights blinked on. Neighbors from the old block who’d heard of his condition and come to visit. He woke up for them, brushed himself off, tried to sit up straight in the bed. I smiled and tucked the square of paper into his plastic bedside table. Sure he would find it and know what it meant.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Afterwards, I went to an Alateen meeting. I hadn’t been in a while. I was quiet until the very end. I told these other kids that my dad was in the hospital across the parking lot. That they were doing dialysis, that his organs were suffering, that it was because of the drinking. Part of me, I told them, resented the attention he was getting. “It’s always his crisis,” I said. “The crisis of not being able to deal.” I said that I had sometimes wondered whether everything would be easier for Mama and me if we weren’t taking care of him. But if we left, he would die. If he died, would the pain end for him and us? I knew he wondered the same thing.
Now I said, “I want my dad.” Wanted him there to help me apply to college, to talk music and science, to see me graduate. In a circle of folding chairs in a shadowless room, I made any deal I could to take back my part in this. Outside in the warm air, the girl with too-tight jeans gave me her phone number with a heart drawn underneath. A lanky boy with long hair, who’d never spoken to me before, told me he dreamed of flying to Paris. “I would go straight to Jim Morrison’s grave,” he said. “And do what?” I asked. “Just stand in front of it, I guess.” I smiled. I never went back.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends.
In May, the boy left me.
The next day, my dad died.
The day after that, I turned seventeen.
Or did I return to Alateen, just once? Did I wait until the end of the meeting before speaking? Before announcing to those hurting, unsuspecting kids that my dad had died? That I had infiltrated their ranks with the news that actually, there is no hope? One day you get a phone call. One day you sit in a room with his body. Then you sit in a room with Mama and the funeral director. You fill in words when they ask you. It turns out even an obituary is some shitty formula. And twelve steps or not, Easy Does It, Let Go and Let God or not, we’re all fucked. Some people are already lost to us. None of it—the how, the why, the cause and effect—fits or makes any difference. Even those words from the first version of AA’s Big Book—“Never have we seen a person fail who thoroughly followed our path”—are a myth. The founders of AA never said “never.” They said, “Rarely have we seen a person fail.”
But that can’t be how it happened. Memory is an impulse towards organization, remakes itself as narrative. It’s another failed system of meaning. Add it to the list.
My dad is dead because: why.
My dad is dead because: the hospital says, “system failure.”
My dad is dead because: his body stopped working.
My dad’s body stopped working because he was an alcoholic.
My dad was an alcoholic because he was an alcoholic.
One night I sang Beatles songs off the edge of a cliff. Is that how it happened? At seventeen, did we sneak to the Castle in the dark, to drink and laugh and talk shit among the ruins? Or was it somewhere else in the woods, or in the cheap motel with the owner who rented us rooms and didn’t ask questions as long as we filed through the back door and kept it down?
I was alone, singing a song too old for me. Pressed my palm flat against a flaking wall. Taking note as my body and balance slipped away from me. Sank down, my spine sharp against the stone. Somewhere nearby: the others, my friends, and the boy who said of course he loved me, but he just couldn’t. He was still bound to come looking for me if I was gone long enough. Somewhere below, the wide black river turned over. Down the road, Mama pulled not-quite-empty bottles from under mattresses, half-expecting me home.
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire! I sang.
“Those lyrics are nonsense,” the boy said, sounding faraway.
“They’re facts,” I said, watching my kneecaps loll back and forth. Did I lose the thread? There was never a thread. Except I loved my dad and he drank until he died.
The boy never fought or yelled or cried when he drank. I’d seen him stay up steady all night, so long as there was some game to play, something to laugh about.
“Easy does it,” he said and pulled up my arms like sandbags. I could count every blond hair on his hands.
“I’m fine,” I said. “I just—” My head heaved.
“I believe you,” he said and let go.
In the dark of the Castle, the beds of sunken gardens never planted, a circle of cigarettes like fireflies. I was trying to think of ways to keep him close to me. We listened to the others talk from a distance: “Naw, man, his wife never left him.”
“Sure she did, ran off with the contractor.”
“No, no, no. See that gazebo? That was a well. The guy’s little boy was running through here playing, and one day he fell down the well. Dead. The wife goes crazy. But she plays it off. Waits a few days, for the funeral to be over and everything. Then one day she says she’s going for a swim and walks down to the river. Walks straight in and drowns herself. Never comes up again. The guy is standing right here, watching the whole thing. He goes crazy—lost his son, now his wife. So he up and throws himself off this cliff.”
“Man, you’re full of shit.”
The boy laughed in their direction, began to move towards the voices. I scrambled up onto the ledge, rising to my feet. “Hey,” I said. “Remember when we used to come here?” He turned.
“Whoa, get down.” He reached up a hand.
“I read the news today, oh boy,” I sang.
“Seriously,” he said.
“Look what I found for us,” I said, swirling vodka in a crinkled plastic bottle, the label peeled off. Wind whistled down my back. Was that my laugh? See, I was saying, I can be clear. I can be easy.
“Where’d you get that?” he asked, but he was smiling.
I didn’t steal. I found this one on my own: standing on my tiptoes, sticking my hand into a pile of towels on the top shelf of my bathroom closet. My fingers stubbed on hard glass. Nestled in the folds. I drew the bottle out by its see-through neck. Stared. I didn’t put it under the kitchen sink with the others Mama collected and never threw away. I didn’t mention it. I just walked into my bedroom, opened a drawer near the floor, placed the bottle carefully under sweaters and pushed it shut again. Later, I emptied a water bottle, poured in the vodka, and drove to the river.
I didn’t tell him that.
That night, when he finally touched me, that’s when my body split. There was the gravity of limbs pressed to mine, to rock, the cacophony in my head, the rushing current of liquor in my blood. Felt my weight, and felt it disappear.
I sprawled on the bathroom floor in the shadow of the toilet.
I remembered the boy in fragments, already hours gone. Gone. Before. Not my boyfriend anymore, still my first boyfriend. I still wanted him to want me, and he said he did, but he couldn’t be with me. How could it be both?
I remembered kneeling at the bottom of the Castle’s grand staircase. My face inside an empty beer box. It smelled rank and I swore I was fine. The others told me later I vomited on every step of the way up. And again, outside the open door of the patriot-blue Chrysler they steered to Mama’s house for me. They dropped me on her porch and couldn’t meet her eyes.
“Was it vodka?” Mama said. Her voice had cracks in it. Why ask? She knew.
I couldn’t make out her face, but knew she was looking at me. Did she see me as I was, as I could be? Did she see him? Was I rising or falling? Was I just spinning? That goddamn Beatles song. Hardly a song at all. A cut-up cataclysm of dubbing, distortion, reverb, echo, unraveling. A band known for indelible melodies—then what the fuck?
“You can’t do this,” Mama said. “You know why.”
She pressed a cold washcloth to my forehead. It pounded like that famous last chord in E major—ten hands struck down at once on three pianos and a harmonium, held out for thirty, forty seconds of oblivion.
But even that isn’t the end. A fuzzed-out silence follows, then studio babble—Lennon sighs Been so high, and McCartney singsongs, the voices sped and chopped and looped, Never could be any other way.
I put my cheek to the linoleum. Mama moved slowly to the edge of the tub. Out the window, the neighbor’s motion light switched off. Mama was an outline in the dark. She had been kneeling beside me, but she was too tired to stay there.
Rumpus original art by Elly Lonon.
Voices on Addiction is a column devoted to true personal narratives of addiction, curated by Kelly Thompson, and authored by the spectrum of individuals affected by this illness. Through these essays, interviews, and book reviews we hope—in the words of Rebecca Solnit—to break the story by breaking the status quo of addiction: the shame, stigma, and hopelessness, and the lies and myths that surround it. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, adult children, extended family members, spouses, friends, employers or employees, boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, victims of crimes, and those who’ve committed crimes as addicts, and the personnel who often serve them, nurses, doctors, social workers, therapists, prison guards, police officers, policy makers and, of course, addicts themselves: Voices on Addiction will feature your stories. Because the story of addiction impacts us all. It’s time we break it. Submit here.