“If we were to live, we had to be free of anger … but to alcoholics these things were poison … anger is a luxury we cannot afford “. Various versions of this I heard and read from my first days in Alcoholics Anonymous. For a time, they made sense to me and fit with how I thought that I should be and how I wanted to be. Yet the mere possibility of someone’s anger towards me prompted a retreat into my protective cocoon.

I grew up in angry house, where anger often was a precursor to verbal harangues and sometimes violence. So deeply conditioned was my reaction to anger that escape was my default. Even more so, I would not allow myself to express anger. In recovery, I have found that anger is a ‘luxury’ that I cannot ignore. I’m learning to change my relationship to anger; that directed towards me and that from within me.


I like to pretend
Pretend that
I do not hate
But sometimes
I think I do
I’d like to say
I transform hate
With an abundance
Of love and compassion
But sometimes
I’m afraid that
I just hate
Alas I fear ‘tis true
Oh I don’t show it
No never that
I smile and I smile
And I swallow
The bitter pill
Because I
Don’t like to hate


I hold this moment
Cupped gently
In my hands
I try to see it
For what it is
Anger or fear
Maybe both
Maybe something
In between

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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Jack B.
Jack B.
2 years ago

When I see deliberate cruelty I retreat no longer. I attack back. I am a Gay man. I have seen and personally have experienced fear/anger/hate – those are all shades of the same color. When I find it, or it finds me, or I see it expressed to others I no longer run and hide. I meet it head on! I convey to the hater, including especially the religious hater, that I am a wall they can’t get through or over or around or under. I try always to make sure that there are as many people as the moment… Read more »

corinne Lamoureux
corinne Lamoureux
2 years ago

I retreat from anger also.