Finding Joy Again

I recently felt hopeless, dark, depressed for a few weeks. My poems, like last week’s, turned dark. It reminded me of several times of my life, not drinking alcohol, trying to not drink alcohol, drinking alcohol was a prolonged and seemingly perpetual pattern. Despair felt never ending. Moments of pleasure were short-lived and fleeting. My life, devoid of joy. And I drank more and more alcohol to vainly try to fill that void where joy once could live. Lucinda William’s song, Joy, is a touchstone for me. Especially the lines,

“You took my joy
I want it back
You took my joy
I want it back”

Sober, I experience joy. I came to realize that drinking alcohol and the addictive, obsessive, compulsive desires to escape drinking alcohol stole my joy.

“I don’t want you anymore
Cause you took my joy
I don’t want you anymore
You took my joy”

Sober I can see things as they are. I can see beauty. I can find joy. I’ve come to realize that joy, like Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Common Things collection of delight, beauty, of joy in ‘thimbles, scissors, a bed, tea,…’, abides in the common, ordinary, mundane, living-of-life, little things.

In all of that hopelessness, bleakness, dark unhappiness and sorrow that I had been feeling, I began to find joy. First by seeing. Then by looking, by touching, feeling, tasting, listening below all of that noise, to be here, now, today. I do need to feel sad when sad. Angry when angry. Hopeless when hopeless. But I need not, must not, ignore beauty and joy when surrounded by it in multitude ways.

These poems, and last week’s Sometimes Life’s Too Hard – Too Much for Me, highlight the juxtaposition of emotions that sometimes sweep me away and sometimes carry me back to where I need be, want to be.


The little stream
Finding its path
Creating others
Sometimes sinuous
Sometimes straight
Bisecting the field
Corn here
Soybeans there
Once mesic oak
Grasses and
Tall yellow flowers
Basking beneath
August’s shining sun


I know that there is beauty
Though it’s sometimes
So very hard to see
Through lenses colored
By seeing too much
I forget the wonder
Of a weed grown wild
Creating a garden
Where there was none
A pebble that became
A wonder-filled gem
To a toddler walking
Beside me holding my hand


Afternoon rain
Gentle and soft
Cools the heat
Sweetens the air
Soothes my spirit
Quenches my thirst
Satisfies my want
With what I need
A moment of peace
After a passing storm


Collecting experiences day by day
Putting the good here, the bad there
Never quite knowing where to put
The ever so many in-betweens

The good I’ll save for a day
When I’ll need them for sure
To feel better when I feel
So so very sadder than sad

The bad I’ll lock securely in a box
And I will remember to try to forget
Where I put the box safely out of reach
Though I always remember what I try to forget

The ever so many ordinary in-betweens
It’s these that I’ll need I do suspect
To remind me that it wasn’t all bad nor good
Just mostly okay at the end of the day


This moment
Replete with wonder
For all to see
With eyes that
Simply see
And yet

And yet
I feel so far away
Not quite here
Not quite there
This moment
Replete with wonder

About the Author

Robert B. is a 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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