Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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Photos of family and addiction

Photos of family and addiction
A note from my mother written on top of a family photo. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2022.  (Jordan Gale)
A note from my mother on a family photo. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2022. (Jordan Gale)


Life can be very chaotic and confusing. Despite your best efforts, you may feel that nothing is working. And there are many ways we can handle it. There are positive and negative.

For some, life seems to be going well. For others, there are many pitfalls and setbacks along the way. No matter how loud we say so, none of us are born into an equal competition.

Some people have been born with great privilege, either by race or economics. If we do not follow that fact, we are dishonest. And some people are born with a legacy of genetic predisposition such as mental illness and addiction.

Yes, fortunately, some have been born into an environment that cushions life’s obstacles. That’s great, and it’s nothing wrong. There is no scientific research in front of me to prove that the vast majority of people on the planet were probably not born with a smooth path before, but that certainly seems to be the case.

Photographer Jordan Gale was born into a turbulent life. And he is investigating through the ongoing series entitled “Don’t be like this forever”. A few months ago he contacted me on his project, and it caught my attention, so I wanted to share it with you here.

Gail sent me the following description of his ongoing project:

“For most of my life, the concept of a house has been a concept I’ve struggled with. For years, I try to keep as much distance as possible between myself and the miserable friendliness of the house. I’ve been trying. “

“I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s a relatively small town in Middle America. I grew up in a single-parent home as a child, where most of the time we struggled to get through. Like many households in my community, the issue of money and substance abuse was an ongoing struggle.

“I knew when I was young that we were poor, and I knew about my mother’s various drug uses. When I was a teenager, I began to feel embarrassed about my growth, leaving Iowa and myself. I began to resent the space I was born in, fearing that I would never live my life. “

“These feelings eventually perpetuated my self-destructive tendency as a young adult and deepened my anger, anxiety and stagnation.

“My essay” Don’t be like this forever “has taken many forms over the years. At the center of my picture is a visual diary that tries to confront the various turbulent relationships in my hometown. These photos span approximately 10 years before leaving the house and during subsequent visits. “

“The act of taking pictures in this space was a cathartic process aimed at better understanding my past actions and feelings while trying to repair the weak relationships I left behind and often returned. The photos don’t necessarily provide the answer, but the effort spent making this piece inspires the conversation, and that’s all I can ask for. “

Attempting to gain a deeper understanding of our lives, ups and downs, successes and failures does not always give us the right answers. And it is very difficult to confront our uneasy reality. But if you have the opportunity for happiness or acquiescence, Gale continues this ongoing photo essay, so it’s very important to ask questions anyway.

More details on Gail’s work can be found on his website (here).

This photo series is an economic difficulty reporting project (, A non-profit organization of journalism.


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