Eleven years sober and I recently began to be swept away by politics, career and change. Anxious and depressed. Afraid and sad. It reminded me of how hopeless and helpless I felt at my bottom. Awareness had become something I numbed and avoided. Sober it became a gift regardless of whether it was pleasure or pain.

The gift of awareness—of seeing things as they are took time and practice. I returned to the things that worked for me – simple and short guided meditation, slowing down my day, playing simple rhythms and slow blues on guitar, reading actual books rather than e-readers, making and eating food more mindfully and slowly (limiting microwaved meals), making and drinking a special bedtime tea (banana peel tea), limiting reading and watching news (haven’t done this for 3 weeks now), talking with others about recent struggles face-to-face, and writing bare-bones that only seek to observe.

Sometimes awareness becomes clarity becomes action and sometimes awareness becomes action becomes clarity. Practicing these several things with intention has led to more ease and more peace. A caveat—banana peel tea may have helped me sleep or my intention to help myself sleep by making banana peel tea may have helped. Regardless, being intentional about sitting with painful awareness rather than avoiding it was a big part of how I got sober and how I stay sober.


In a forest dark
Which way to turn


All this noise
Silent retreat


I do not Know
Yet I Understand


The moments between
Are the moments I need


I take the first few sips of tea
And I notice my scattered selves return

About the Author

Robert B is sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

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2 years ago

John, it would be helpful if the podcasts were transcribed into a PDF for printing.  If you could do this, we in Ojai CA would be grateful.

Murray J
Murray J
2 years ago

I am constantly renewed by those with the creativity, vulnerability and courage to artfully share their journey. Again,  I thank you.