For three decades now, I’ve studied the ability of ecosystems to respond to change, to ultimately adapt. I’ve never thought about resilience as part of recovery. Though I fancy myself keenly perceptive, sometimes I do ignore the obvious. For me to recover from alcohol dependency and the associated anxiety disorder and depression, I had to move past just surviving. So much of my life prior to becoming sober was getting through, surviving what often seemed a never-ending series of crises, many self-created. Not drinking alcohol until things got better felt like it worked. And then, I would plead and bargain with the universe, why, why, why is this happening to me.

Today, I experience pain, sorrow, loss, but I know how to feel, to experience those fully without escaping into the bottle until things get better. Life, today for me is so much more than mere survival, it’s thriving even in the face of adversity. It’s changing, becoming someone no longer chained to a past that I cannot escape and that I need not repeat. So like these wonderful ecosystems that I study, I’m grateful for the resilience I can tap into sober. I’m sober 12 years today. A life once lived very small and in shadows, is now big and bright, even when it is sometimes hard.


Wade in the water
Let the River carry me away
Away to where I need to be
To ride the waves
And sometimes
Perilous rapids
The Great Unknown


There in the mud
The lotus seed waits
Calmly abides
Swept away
In the tumultuous storm
When the little stream
Raged and roared
To once again reach for sky
Blooming in the Sun
Sharing its beauty and hope

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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  1. Murray J April 22, 2019 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks Robert. And congratulations on 12 years! It’s never easy but it’s certainly worth it.

  2. kyo April 21, 2019 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Wow, thanks RB, You are my “don’t quit b4 the miracle” This is eXactly what I needed to know.

  3. kyo April 21, 2019 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Nicely written. I would like to know what took place between “…And then I would plead & bargain w/the universe…” and “Today I experience pain, sorrow, loss…” That’s where the recovery took place. I need to know the Hows. “Life today for me is so much more than mere survival…” How did you get there, what did you do? Dealing w/depression & anxiety “on top of” the bottle ups the complications of recovery ten-fold. Of course there are the Steps (& meds & therapy) but when the anxiety & depression became debilitating what got you through, specifically? Writing out feelings in a journal, meditation, sugar? What? Thanks so much Robert B.



    • Robert April 21, 2019 at 2:08 pm Reply

      Thanks. At first, re: anxiety and depression, was reaching out for help from professionals and people in 12 step groups. Antidepressants eventually helped, but they took some time. I couldn’t take anxiety meds because I abused them. I used short guided meditations on Breath and body awareness a few times each day, but especially first thing after waking and evening after getting home. I walked about 3-4 miles most day. Made and ate food rather than carry out, eating out, or microwave. I made and drank tea from loose leaf and bought a ‘special’ / dedicated tea pot and a couple of tea cups. I began to write about what I noticed and less about how I felt. A gratitude list was especially useful then and now. I also began to learn to play music (guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer. I think learning something new was critical for me. Writing things I noticed began to take the form of prose/verses. I think that after about 3 years of writing and sharing, I found a voice that felt comfortable and true.

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