Sometimes I find myself desperately seeking and searching for answers to quench my thirst to know. My greatest drive seems to be answer a never-ending quest for why. Why did I become an alcoholic? Why do I so often feel like an imposter inhabiting my life? Why do I never feel like I’m enough? Why this and why that?

As a research scientist, I avoid why questions because of their tenacious intractability. I learned to ask ‘better’ questions that could be answered with data from observations. Yet, as a human trying to be, I find myself asking why over and over and over. I wanted to know why I drank alcohol the ways that I drank alcohol so that I could continue to drink alcohol. For me it seems often that posing why, creates an illusion of control. Sometimes, it is way for me to blame others and absolve myself of responsibility. Last week, I let myself feel the unease of not knowing, of uncertainty, but posed questions of possibility – of ‘what if’ rather than ‘why’.


What if there were
No good No bad
Only Now


What if I saw
Where there
Once was none


What if there was no plan
No grand design
Just a road ahead
With twists and turns


What if I loved
And then I
Loved some more


What if today
Were really
Just yesterday
All over again


What if this step
Changed everything
Would I take it
Would I stand still


What if I truly let go
No longer trying
To be what I thought
That I should be

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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Robert Bohanan
Robert Bohanan
2 years ago

Reid and John


Thank you for your encouragement and also your willingness to share your experiences. Thanks also for the talks and book recommendations. Keon Griffin’s, One Breath at a Time, created a path in recovery that allowed me to find my way in Traditional AA before we started some secular AA meetings in Madison. I so enjoyed being part of a 12 step Buddhist retreat he led. He invited us to do a positive 4th and 5th step that was quite illuminating and empowering.

Reid B.
Reid B.
2 years ago

Robert B., I share your personal characteristic of curiosity: why is this, why is that, why did I become an alcoholic? I got a lot of gobbledygook in early AA about that last question. I now know that such ambiguity masked a darker state: the people I asked simply didn’t know the answer and were too insecure to say, “I don’t know.” But ideas promulgated by Gabor Maté in his book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, and in the book, The Body Keeps the Score, and in the book, The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris, are the closest… Read more »

John L.
2 years ago

I like your poem.  What we as alcoholics need to know is that we can’t drink — at all.  A day at a time, for the rest of our life, we need to stay away from the first drink.  As to why we became alcoholics, I recommend the books by James R. Milam, especially his first one, Under The Influence.