The Road to Recovery – A Poem by Justin Farley

The Road to Recovery

I tried walking away from madness,
seeking peace.
But found I was bound and a captive,
unable to retreat.
Astonished, I looked down at shackles
clasped around my hands and feet.
I have hollered until I was hoarse;
solitude is the only company I keep.
What is left now other than to shrink
within my cell and accept defeat?
But wait...what if this freedom I seek
lies juxtaposed to relief?
Maybe I need to start asking why
these feelings run so deep.
Yes, the road to recovery
begins with acceptance
and ends with peace.

Justin Farley

Losing Myself Poem About Mental Illness and Recovery

Losing Myself

I’m losing myself in pieces –
every year fragments of my soul
feel swept away by time.

My identity constantly decreases,
and I’m beginning to feel like a stranger
within the confines of my own mind.

Yes, I’m losing myself in pieces –
the jigsaw puzzle’s lovely image
has jumbled into an abstract mess.

But my search for meaning never ceases.
I continue holding the lantern,
calling out to myself in the darkness.

I’m searching for the lost pieces –
putting myself back together
one discovery at a time.

With faith, hope increases,
and despite being far from perfect,
I’m able to begin recovery’s climb.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

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Poem About Addiction to Drugs Alcohol and Recovery

Starting Today

If resisting was an easy task,
who would be a slave?
Who would part with a piece of themselves
for the chance at an early grave?
Willpower alone is enough to put you in hell
but not enough to pull you out.
You’ll never have a chance at getting well
until you accept living by a different route.
If change is what you want,
you’ll have to change much about you.
You’ll have to learn to become humble
and do what trusted advisers tell you to do.
The road is long and hard
but worth every step of the way
because you have the opportunity
to be free again starting today.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

How Anxiety Distracts Us From God

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 The Noticer

Let me be a noticer of things in your world
instead of a dweller of my inner thoughts,
worries, and selfish longings
that only keep me distracted from you.

For when I uproot myself out of the present moment
and plant my focus on myself,
I rob myself of the joy
of witnessing your glory and beauty
all around me.

I have always been a highly observant person, picking out minor details that others often miss. On my morning walk in the woods today I noticed an old, wooden beam with rusted barbwire wrapped around the edges that had clearly once been a fence post. The problem was that I’d walked this path dozens of times before. Worse, it only stood a few inches off the trail.

What may seem an unimportant observation worried me. I should have noticed this a long time ago. But then again, maybe I’m not quite as observant as I once was…not since anxiety and worry have become a constant companion.

I sat there looking at that fence post, noticing for the first time the rotting wood and the crumbling decay of age. In my perifocal view I then noticed a bee hovering around a flower and insects crawling along the earth. I was struck with the realization that I have formed a habit of being so stuck inside my head observing my anxieties and worries that I have lost an awareness of the world around me.

I’ve decided I’m still a highly observant person; I’ve just been preoccupied with the wrong details. Anxiety and worry cause us to retreat inward, focusing on only our thoughts and feelings, preparing for the “what ifs” of the future. In the process they rob us of the joy and experience of life in the present moment.

God dwells in the here and now. God speaks in the present. God walks with us in this moment. When we try to place ourselves in the future, we make no room for God. For the future is determined by His will, not ours. And that is what anxiety and fear inspire us to do, don’t they? To just sprint past God and try to prepare, plan, and control what happens next. We lack faith in God’s providence, so we seek out our own providence. We are finite creatures who are not built to withstand that kind of responsibility. When we put ourselves in control of managing our future, we collapse under the weight of worry.

Even more importantly, when we are constantly distracted by our worries and removed from the here and now, we miss out on the wonderful experience of witnessing God’s glory and beauty all around us.  The beauty of a sunset, the feeling of the wind against your skin, the magic of the leaves changing colors, the love in another’s eyes, the wisdom God passes on in seemingly unimportant things.

It’s a hard fight to pull yourself out of your own head and leave all the worrying behind. It’s maybe an even harder fight to trust in God. But there are opportunities for redemption all around us, yet we have to be attentive to the present moment to recognize them. If we remain focused on the incessant cycle of self-centered thoughts, we deny ourselves the gift of seeing God’s divine presence right here, right now.

-Post and Poem Written by Justin Farley

The Cost of Freedom – Recovery Addiction Poem

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The Cost of Freedom

Confining walls, prison cell;
there’s no shame in wearing a straight jacket
if it makes you well.

Dirty dishes, soiled clothes;
it’s a heavy burden to keep
your house clean on your own.

Hidden secrets, concealed lies;
they are the extent of your sickness –
the enemy of recovery is pride.

Foolish illusions, blind in the dark;
the most harmful delusion is believing
you can trust your heart.

Death’s agent, the loser’s bane;
sometimes winning means folding now
to remain in the game.

The humble lives, the prideful dies;
better to trust in another’s truths
than to keep living by your lies.

Safety in numbers, self-reliance self-destructs;
an unchecked mind quickly becomes
unreliable and corrupt.

Freedom is sometimes choosing not to be free;
better to serve a great master,
than sit on the throne of insanity.

-Poem and Content Written by Justin Farley

As a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for almost 11 years and someone who can become addicted to about anything that makes you feel good, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my recovery is the need to let go of my freedom sometimes. The hardest times in recovery are often the ones where we’ve still got one foot in and one foot out, believing that we can be both fully free and fully accountable living by our will power.

For me, I’ve learned that when I’m free I’m a slave, and when I’m a slave I’m free. Quite paradoxical, but I’ve learned that I can’t trust myself to do what I want myself to do. If I sit with temptation long enough, it will eventually over power me no matter how much will power I have.

We don’t want to accept defeat. We don’t want to admit that we’re weak. We want to continue to live by the lie that we’re able to conquer our demons on our own, despite file cabinets full of evidence to the contrary. Sometimes giving up some of your freedom is the only way to protect yourself from yourself. For addicts, I believe the cost of freedom is often freedom itself.

You want to be sober? Well, you’re going to have to give up the freedom of  being able to go to bars. You want to be free from addiction? You’re going to have to give up the freedom of hanging out with people that are still using. You want to be free from your shopping addiction? You’ve got to give up the freedom of carrying cash and credit cards.

Is it possible to keep all your freedoms and remain free from your addictions? Maybe. At least for a period of time, but it’s like playing Russian roulette, never knowing when your addiction is loaded in the chamber. Play long enough, and I believe you’ll eventually self-destruct.

For me, I’ve realized the cost of unchecked freedom is misery and death. And today, I choose to live.

You may also like my other addiction and recovery posts.

Poem About Birds Singing In Spring

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Birdsong

The birds of morning take their places
upon the stage of life’s amphitheater
where their voices have remained mute for months.
But today, they rise in joyful chorus,
belting out melodious tunes.

Isn’t it funny how such a small animal
can make a giant footprint upon the soul
and lift a heavy heart higher
than pharmaceutical cocktails and cognitive endeavors –
a voice that sweeps the soot from the chimney of the soul
with only chirps in rhythmic time and playful ruffles of feathers?

Somewhere subconsciously we believe
they are the gatekeepers of spring
and have enough magic in their beaks
to end this bleak, cursed winter.
Their songs are beautiful incantations,
awakening nature from its deep slumber
and inviting all who hear their music
back to life.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Poem About Recovery From Addiction – The Streets of Delusion

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The Streets of Delusion – A Poem About Addiction Recovery

I walked the streets of delusion
where the streetlights glow
with golden spheres of flame.

Dancing like fireflies in a glass jar,
their seductive splendor tempted me,
whispering my ego’s name.

I walked the streets of delusion
believing them to be paved
with adventure and romantic ecstasy.

Each footstep outpaced reason,
while my sole pounded values into the pavement,
And my feet stepped over morality.

I walked the streets of delusion
until life’s traffic slammed into my body,
cursing as I fell on my face.

Pride poured out of every gash,
every cut and every broken bone,
yet desire still yearned for one more taste.

I walked the streets of delusion,
or rather crawled without care of judgement –
broken, but not yet ready to accept defeat.

But suddenly stopped in horror
when I saw Death approaching
from the end of the street.

I stared down the streets of delusion,
wide-eyed and finally willing
to see the truth of where they lead.

No one is exempt
from reaping death and ruin
when they plant Destruction’s seed.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

About the Poem

Every recovering addict remembers what it was like walking “the streets of delusion”. Inside every addict there is a point where you deceive yourself into believing that you are not addicted, that you just like to have fun, and that you’ll stop as soon as “x” happens. The elation that we feel while drunk or high is greater than the warning signs that surround us, and we turn our backs on everything that once mattered in our life for the brief comfort and feelings of power alcohol and drugs provide. The strongest and most dangerous lie that addiction tries to convince us of is that somehow we will outsmart a disease and won’t be like all the others that are on the same path we are on…that we can control it without recovery. We will somehow find a happy medium between sane and crazy, drunk and sober, addiction and recovery. Somehow we will keep ourselves and those we care about out of danger and prevent chaos in our lives, all the while brewing it wherever we go. The difference between active and non-active addiction is usually nothing more than an honest look in the mirror and having the courage to expose the lies that have led us down the path we’re on. Obviously admitting we need help is the next step, but until we get off “the streets of delusion” we will never see the truth of how desperately we need recovery and how out of control our addiction and our life has become.

If you enjoyed this poem, you may also enjoy my poem about alcoholism,“One More Taste”.

Grace – A Poem

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Grace – A Poem

I am awed by the way you move me
like freshly fallen snowflakes dusting across the frozen ground.
Some days I forget the barren tundra from which I came
and how you whispered by name, echoing across that vacant landscape
so that a lost soul could be found.

Some days time passes by me without a single thought
that each waking moment is a treasure –
a gift granted, light years away from being deserved.
But despite all my wrongs and all the foolish footpaths
I chose to walk, in my time of desperation I called
and without hesitation you answered.

Each single second is abounding opportunity,
a renewed possibility for new life.
My destination was one I was unable to arrive at
by the work of my own hands, but while I lingered,
withering away in the darkness, you nestled me
within your loving embrace and brought me back into the light.

The fact that I breathe and my heart beats
is a living testament to your endless love and grace.
May I never forget from where I came and that each day is a gift
that I should unceasingly praise and never waste.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Morning mist via photopin (license)

Today – A Inspiration Poem

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Today – A Inspiration Poem

The sun is rising.
Open your eyes to the possibility of a new life
That waits for you upon the horizon.
Let the aroma of fresh brewed coffee stir you in bed
And lead you from where dreams remain fixed in your head
To where they are transfigured in motion through action.

Today we set course for the future;
We throw all past failures overboard
And load our cargo of dormant potential in the hold.

Today we set sail to new destinations
We’ve been planning for years,
But never had the courage to leave the comfort of familiar harbors.

Today we become masters over our inner self
And shed the shackles of slavery,
No longer submitting to the will of our weaknesses.

Today is the first day of your new life –
Reborn, awoken, reformed into the image
You’ve always desired and known you’re capable of.

Today will find us working
And not bewildered by fear or past distractions.
We will set course on a path of purposeful, rigorous action.

Today we set sail for the future,
Which does not come to us,
But we confidently create and seek.

Today is the only day of your life that’s guaranteed.
So pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Smile, don’t fret. Let’s make it one for the ages.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: The Grassy Knoll via photopin

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

a man who  is ashamed, lonely, and depressedHaving suffered through the bonds of addiction, I sought in this poem to somehow put into perspective what the transformation of an addict is like. It never starts off as tragedy, but as a solution to all life’s problems – the missing puzzle piece that we’ve been searching for all of our life to make us fit. And nothing is better than discovering the magic of our elixir or drug of choice because it’s never about the experience. It is about healing the mangled, broken human being we’ve been carrying around inside our chest our whole life.

We rejoice. We celebrate. We can’t get enough. Finally, we are free. Finally, we have something that makes our darkness and fears disappear. But somewhere along the way, we cross a line. I don’t think any addict can truly know what day or time that line was crossed. But when we cross it, our enchanted dream becomes a bone-chilling nightmare. A sickness so swift comes over us that we fail to diagnose ourselves (unfortunately some never do). There is no romanticism in the depths of addiction. It is the coldest hell that man can ever go through.

There is often much confusion and anger towards loved ones who have addiction issues. That anger and frustration is not invalid. But for the addict, it is not some trip to Disneyland, but a ride down avenues that few can bear. It is the process of the soul shattering, and when the soul shatters, chaos is bound to follow. We are responsible for our actions, but the active addict is enduring a world that you can never begin to comprehend. We are not bad humans. We are sick, broken, mad, and in need of restoration. Love requires truth and confrontation. It cannot sit back and watch, while it’s lover is dying. It demands to be heard and to fight against the chaos. But love is the most powerful weapon against addiction. It takes someone else to believe you can fight back because often times an addict doesn’t have anything left to believe in. You don’t have to understand; you never will. But stretching out a hand to someone sinking is sometimes all it takes if they are willing to grab on. Blame, shame, and anger never do an addict any good. Trust me, we’ve got enough of that in our own heart to fill the world. We hate ourselves and what we’ve doing more than you can ever know. But we are frightened. We are scared. We do not know how to live in our own skin – fragile, broken, and utterly mangled. It is not deviance that drives one to addiction; it is deliverance. Deliverance from a world of hurt and pain. These hearts are already broken enough. Please do not break them even more. Restore them. Cherish them. Breathe your life back into them. Give them hope for a better tomorrow because their today is a living hell.

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

One taste was all it took to love you.
You coddle me in your sweet embrace
And rock my fears and insecurities to sleep,
Nestled within your powerful arms.
But your enchanted dreams do not rub away from my eyes,
And I find it impossible to say good-bye to our nightly rendezvous.

I am drowning in your love,
But still thirsty.
Still yearning for just one more,
But somehow I know that will never do –
My every thought is of you
And the magic that your cast upon my broken mind.
You fix me and as long as you’re by my side,
The world is fine.
My strides are long and steady.
I’m cool, calm, confident, and ready
To take on the world with my head held high and my eyes
Ready to look life in the face.

But without the transformation I undergo after your taste,
I am lost, weak, scared, and incompetent.
My eyes drag across the floor
And fear commands my every move.
No.
One more will never do.
I need every ounce of you
Rattling through my veins, breaking these chains
That bind me in isolation.

But love, things were going so well.
What is this desolation
That now flows from your well?
Your spell has enchanted me blind
And numb to life.
What started off as waves of calm
Have turned to tides of chaos,
Screaming, shrieking out in piercing alarms.

I am not well.
No. My being is fluttering away in the breeze,
And a new form – some deformed demon
Forces me to my knees.
I only wanted one.
But one was not enough.
Neither was two.
Or the ten that followed two.

I no longer desire to be kissed.
My mind insists that I must be swallowed
Up in your madness, in the sadness
Of this depraved love affair that has turned sour.
I do not know the hour
That I turned from lover to slave.
But I look through blurred, sunken eyes at my reflection
And never have been so afraid.

I am no longer me.
I am not my own.
And who can comprehend the clamor of this confinement?
None. I walk alone
Through the dark corridors –
I reside within the empty walls.
I am an inmate on death row,
Silently drinking my way towards my execution date,
And my executioner will not wait, nor hear my plea.
I shiver in the silence of my cold seduction.
Oh, how I long to break free!
From this madness, this chaos, this never-ending itch
That I can’t stop scratching,
My claws ripping away the flesh of a once decent man.
But he is far gone from me, a monster is what I am.

I don’t want you.
But I need you.
No longer for safety, but to survive.
My love, I am a stumbling corpse,
Barely breathing, barely alive.
Realization reeks like a rotten carcass,
Festering, decaying in swarming summer heat,
Waves of repugnance sweeping me off my feet.

For truth stings sharper than a thousand bees.
Truth, heavier than the weight of the world,
When reality knocks an addict to his knees.
Oh, my sweet friend…
I thought your love was true!
But now I know one is never enough,
And ten will never do.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: into the blue via photopin (license)