A Meditation on Uncertainty and Fear

Sober, I’ve developed several practices, ways of being that I was unable to consistently use before. Awareness was, and can still be a source of anxiety for me. Sometimes, life’s pressures push me closer and closer to that familiar edge from which I once fell.

The past few weeks have been a perfect storm, in large part with the concern/panic/hysteria of COVID-19, an ever-changing swirl, seemingly intruding in all corners of my life. My spouse is a voracious consumer of news and opinion. I try to be informed, but recognize the risks of being swept away. My spouse wants to talk about what she’s heard and I want to read, watch TV and play my guitar to relax.

I use meditation, mindfulness, and writing as one practice to be with awareness, good or bad, pleasurable or painful, as a way to not be overwhelmed by feelings. As someone who has experienced the difficulties of alcohol use disorder, personally and as an affected child and adult, I’m all too familiar with escaping thoughts and feelings. Sober, I need to be present, and to be present, I need to be resilient, to change my relationship to feelings, rather than running from them, or burying them.

The last few weeks, more and more of the things that I do to remain sober, and to have a sense of well-being have been disrupted. Meetings have been harder to attend because of demands of my workplace trying to respond on the fly to crises, and the AA meetings I have been able to attend have all been affected in one way another. Several of the wise ‘elders’ are absent, out of prudent caution, and their steadying influence is sorely missed. I rely on consistency, routines and daily rituals that I developed in early recovery still. And yet dramatic, unpredictable change appears to be a new norm for a time. Though, I sometimes forget to practice the things that are healthy for me, I’m grateful that I have them and can return to them time and again, throughout my day. 

A Meditation on Uncertainty and Fear

My heart it does remember
What my mind sometimes forgets
Feelings like a flood I cannot explain
At times sweet and wonderful
And other times not
I try to sit but can only spin
Fear electrifies the very air
Fueled by uncertainty
Days become desperate 
And more desperate it seems
With each passing moment
Falling into myself losing my grasp
As the center flies apart
Resisting the urge to run
To hide in a safer place
I let gravity slow my spin
Hold me here for a moment or two
And quietly sit with uneasy truths
In the stillness tis here I abide
A mere moment of silence 
If only for a moment or two
No coming No going
Breathing slowly and deeply
Slowing down life to seek
And to find a refuge from
All this cacophonous noise
Bouncing around inside my head
Triggering thoughts of dread
And conjuring feelings of despair
Here I do watch them come and go
Letting them pass through me
As water through a sieve
Rather than taking up residence
Consuming me from inside
I smile and I watch the Sun rise
As I slowly drink my tea
One sip two sips and three

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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Michelle Hunnefeld
Michelle Hunnefeld
1 year ago

Thanks, Robert. I can relate to these words. I work in a hospital and provide direct patient care. Without the principles to guide me, I am lost and of no help to my patients. Only love conquers fear.