Some Days Are Hard

Some Days Are Hard

Living sober has been full of nuance. Sometimes simple. Sometimes complicated. Often complex. Sometimes ‘the next right thing’ is clear and easy to see. Other times, I am hopelessly confused…

Coming Undone

Coming Undone

Like the Guess Who classic, She’s Come Undone, my life began to come undone, to spiral out of control into dependence on alcohol, frequent paralyzing panic, hopeless, demoralizing depression…

I Wanted to Dance and I Wanted to Sing

I Wanted to Dance and I Wanted to Sing

Though I’m not trapped in a depressive episode now, I remember what it is like. For me, depression has proven chronic. Something I manage with medication, meditation, mindfulness and…

Seeking Wholeness | Returning to the Source

Seeking Wholeness | Returning to the Source

My spouse and I were recently conversing about who we’ve been before and after. Before and after we met. Before and after I hit bottom and got sober. Before…

A Life Torn Asunder

A Life Torn Asunder

Facing a harsh reality 13 years ago of a reality that I had created, filled me with hope-consuming shame. Until that point, I protected my denial by blaming a…

These Masks I used to Wear

These Masks I used to Wear

Of late, I’ve been in several meetings where the idea of imposter phenomenon or imposter syndrome came up in more than one share. Now in my sixth decade of…

Amidst the Chaos About Me I See

Amidst the Chaos About Me I See

Amidst the Chaos About Me I See: Aubrey and Floyd, Cooper and Karens, masks and no masks, pandemic and hoax, guns in state capitals and Minneapolis burning…

Breath

Breath

I’m easily swept away by uncertainty into a spiral of fear. Fear-created,- heart beating out of my chest- panic. For much of my life, I woke gagging on…

Trapped in a Trance

Trapped in a Trance

 The notion of character defects that need be removed in Steps 6 and 7 and in popular books such as Drop the Rock, “…A big part of Twelve Step recovery…

Fragments

Fragments

So often, my thoughts are fragments. Unknown fears that grab me and will not let go. Regret that I cannot forget. Scars I thought healed, plucked revealing old pain born…

Surrender

Surrender

I’m and idealist in a practical realist body. Or maybe it’s the other way round. When I first came to Alcoholics Anonymous, Acceptance Was The Answer was quoted…

My Last Drink of Alcohol Day

My Last Drink of Alcohol Day

Thirteen years ago, April 20, 2007, I went to a special place for me, a wildlife area on the edge of town. I go there annually, much like the waterfowl…

The Boon and the Bane

The Boon and the Bane

The Boon and the Bane: Boon and Bane; Blessing and Curse these they bring me joy and they steal my joy. Gratitude and Resentment; thoughts and feelings that free me…

Hero, Victim, Martyr I’ve Been

Hero, Victim, Martyr I’ve Been

The couple of months before my sober anniversary, I’m usually intensely introspective and reflective. Oft it leads to a degree of self-shaming as I remember weekends and weeks…

A Meditation on Uncertainty and Fear

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…

The Moon, the Sun, and the Stars

The Moon, the Sun, and the Stars

When I stopped drinking alcohol almost 13 years ago, I was left to face fears, anxiety, regret, guilt, shame and depression. It was overwhelming. The universe that I had lived…

Spiritual Not Religious

Spiritual Not Religious

I sometimes worry I cross the line. I like my lines bold, thick, and clear. I identified as agnostic at about 8 years old as a child in a devout…

I Try To Remember It Wasn’t All Bad

I Try To Remember It Wasn’t All Bad

My first few days, weeks, and months newly sober, my emotions were raw. They often swept me away. Moments of peace rare. Fear was ever-present. My life seemingly teetered…

Three Poems About Love For Valentines Day

Three Poems About Love For Valentines Day

Love and intimacy have taken on new meaning for me these days. My spouse and I, in many ways, are an improbable, imperfectly perfect match. It’s not the first…

What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?

Somewhere between my consciousness and subconscious, I knew that this was a question that I was even afraid to ask – this the power that fear held in my life. I…

Lo This Prison I’ve Made

Lo This Prison I’ve Made

Of late I’ve been in several 1st step post relapse meetings. The shame in the room is palpable – from the person coming back and all too often, beneath the…

In the Darkness, a Bottle of Vodka

In the Darkness, a Bottle of Vodka

I remember the panic I would often feel when I reached for the bottle of vodka in the middle of the night only to realize that it was empty. The…

Trapped: Afraid to Live, Afraid to Die

Trapped: Afraid to Live, Afraid to Die

Many January reflections align with various versions of Step 1 of 12. Most speak of ‘acceptance’, ‘surrender’, ‘letting go’, and for me the most troubling of all ‘admitting complete defeat…

No Longer Hiding in the Dark

No Longer Hiding in the Dark

No Longer Hiding in the Dark began as three separate poems written over consecutive days. One was biographical and two were autobiographical. After a conversation with a friend (he was…

Taking Stock (Made a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory)

Taking Stock (Made a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory)

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are a time of reflection for me. My morning meditation often invites personal introspection in quiet moments throughout my day. My dreams too, vivid, windows…

An Assured, Clear Distance

An Assured, Clear Distance

I’m glad I shaved this morning.
I feel more civilized – nicer.
I had an older AA friend named Dick who’s been dead a good while now.
Before I…

Finding Peace, Joy, and Hope in the Mundane

Finding Peace, Joy, and Hope in the Mundane

When I was ‘told – sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly’ that I needed to find a higher power to stay sober, I bristled to put it mildly. My first thought was…

Burdens and Blessings of Living and Dying

Burdens and Blessings of Living and Dying

Sober, I’ve felt the pain of dying and death of those I love. Before I got sober, I avoided much of the pain associated with loved ones dying by…

Be Here, Be Here Now

Be Here, Be Here Now

Alcoholics Anonymous’s “live one day at a time” is a seemingly sacrosanct slogan. The interpretation that I hear from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is more along the…

It’s a Generational Thing

It’s a Generational Thing

Sometimes my thoughts are a jumble. But sober, at least I’m aware that they are a jumble. I recently was excited to discover distant ancestors from 1600’s Scotland…

Sacred Stories

Sacred Stories

Our stories are sacred and healing is part of our intro for We Agnostics: Freethinkers in AA meetings in Madison, WI. Six to seven times each week, I sit on…

I Wanted To Believe

I Wanted To Believe

Times it was/is hard to be an agnostic in Alcoholics Anonymous. Between all of the ‘let go and let gods’, ‘ask god to remove all of these defects of…

Words

Words

81,260 words 4,028 poems (or thereabouts) – a story I write, changing my life each day. I began writing and posting a poem each day beginning in my first…

Darkness and Depression

Darkness and Depression

Sober 12 years and I still have bouts of anxiety and depression. Once upon a time, alcohol helped with anxiety symptoms and allowed me to be engaged and productive. It…

About Intimacy

About Intimacy

Intimacy: “…The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as…

Transforming Fear

Transforming Fear

Recovery has been transformative for me. Upon reflection, transformation is the essential action explicit in many of AA’s twelve steps, not just Step 12. This holds true for pretty…

My Journeys Thus Far

My Journeys Thus Far

My Journeys Thus Far – once upon a time, I was driven to seek, to escape life unfulfilled. I wanted more. More of what I could not say. I plotted a…

Groan. Groan. Not Another Gratitude Meeting

Groan. Groan. Not Another Gratitude Meeting

I’ve been to approximately 4,565,625 meetings since spring 2007. I heard then and I continue to hear now, people often apologize for suggesting gratitude as topic for…

Maybe We Are Doing the Best We Can

Maybe We Are Doing the Best We Can

The other day I was watching an episode of Monk. “Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine.” At some point after an obvious failure with considerable consequences, Sharona, his assistant, attempts to…

Fathers and Sons, Parents and Children, Forgiveness

Fathers and Sons, Parents and Children, Forgiveness

I recently found my first gratitude journal tucked away between two books, The Soul of Rumi, by Coleman Barks, and Stanislaw Lem’s, The Further Adventures of Ion Tichy (my…

Finding Joy Again

Finding Joy Again

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

Sometimes Life’s Hard – Too Much for Me

Sometimes Life’s Hard – Too Much for Me

Sometimes life’s just too damn hard. Pain everywhere. The past several days – Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton (who knows where by the time this posts). I feel too much at…

Shhh. Don’t Tell Anyone, I Sometimes Pray

Shhh. Don’t Tell Anyone, I Sometimes Pray

In my head, when I heard or read Step 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous, I always revised it to simply be, ‘sought through meditation to improve my conscious contact with the…

Regrets – I’ve Got A Few

Regrets – I’ve Got A Few

Regret. Guilt. Shame. That was my pattern for ever so long. It still grabs me and binds me now and again. “We will not regret the past nor shut the…

Brief Poems for Desperate Times

Brief Poems for Desperate Times

In times like these, filled with screed and greed, it is so difficult for me to be. Seemingly all that I see consumes the better parts of me; drags me…

A Day at a Time They Said

A Day at a Time They Said

I heard this at my first meeting of AA, and I’ll bet that I’ve heard it at every meeting since. 5,226 meetings by my count, but who…

The Watcher and Me

The Watcher and Me

The Watcher first showed up in poems I was writing in about 2013 or 2014. These three connected poems were written years apart during times I felt lost, alone and…

To the Spouses

To the Spouses

Early days. I was on shaky, newly sober legs and my marriage, more likely to dissolve than survive. A few of the elders, male and female, I’ll add, said…

Nine Years Later, I’m Still Sober

Nine Years Later, I’m Still Sober

June 23, 2010, our daughter, my stepdaughter, died. Sober, I had euthanized a beloved dog and cat: my best friend of 25 years died unexpectedly; I buried my mom after…

My Shadows and Me

My Shadows and Me

My shadow self, as I’ve come to know, is dominated by regret turned to shame. Shame that bound me in chains and a prison I alone made. Few people…