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.

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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)

The Clouds of Mourning – A Poem About Depression and Pain

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As we go through life, there are inevitable seasons where it seems the skies are always cloudy, always raining, and the forecast will never change. Anyone that has ever dealt with depression (or any mental illness for that matter) knows that it is like a ghost that haunts you no matter where you go or how hard you try to hide from it. Fight all you want, but you can never defeat the forces of darkness with strength alone. In these times of darkness and pain, how do we keep moving forward? How do we resist the temptation to give up and let the pain of life suck everything from our soul?

Typically, telling yourself to “cheer up”, “suck it up”, “pick yourself up”, or having someone else tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself only makes matters worse, and I believe does a disservice to our heart. Deep depression is not an easy thing to fix, and the reality is that sometimes there are circumstances in our lives where the only appropriate response is to mourn and cry. And sometimes we need that time to just embrace the issue and recognize that it is ok to feel pain. But how do we not drown in that pain?

I believe the only way we can move forward is by grasping hope and refusing to let go. It might not get better today, it might not be tomorrow, but as long as there is hope that things will get better, the ghosts of depression are unable to penetrate our locked doors and totally possess us.

The Clouds of Mourning – A Poem About Depression and Pain

The clouds of mourning
Hang and hover over me
Like ghosts – translucent,
Yet allowing only darkness to pass through.
Their pale gray sheets flap and flutter
In the breezes of life,
Dimming and drowning out
All traces of light.
Their wails send nails
Falling from the sky,
Raining down and driving like hammers;
Pounding their melancholic clamors into my heart.

My palette is stained,
Soaked in ashen gray paint.
Non-washable, permanent and persistent;
Resistant to the colors I attempt to cover with my brush.
The clouds of mourning
Flood my skies like ghastly Dementors,
Following me through the hours
And sucking at my soul one minute at a time.

Sweet angels,
Have you lost the fight to the terrors?
Have your hallowed halos burnt out like smoking embers
And lost their luster and glow?
Where are you hiding
In this dark and stormy night?
Where are your shields and swords,
Why are you overwhelmed by the demons of darkness,
Why do you refuse to fight?

What weapons do I pick up
To fend off forces invisible and invincible?
Is there an amulet I can hang over my heart to keep out
The ghouls that pass uninhibited through locked doors?
The icy rain covers my window pane
In sheets of tears running down in streams of solitude.
Winter’s wrath bars my path
And leaves me shivering in the cold wondering what to do.
The clouds of mourning
Hang and hover over me
Like ghosts – translucent,
But hope shall be my exorcism.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Titanic via photopin (license)

A Poem About Alcoholism and Addiction – “One More Taste”

“One More Taste” – Poem About Alcoholism and Addiction

 

Like an empty bottle of whiskey,
I’ve drank you down to the last drop.
The alcoholic in me is still thirsty,
But my rationale tells me to stop.

A madman feening, I sit alone with my demons,
Pacing, wrestling with racing thoughts.
Counting the minutes waiting out these hellish withdrawals,
But the hands sit idle on the clock.

There is no joy for an addict
Walking away from his self-prescribed relief.
Yet knowing that somehow he must get clean,
But doesn’t know how to bear the grief.

I’ve sworn off the drink,
But the fire of your aftertaste still burns on my lips,
Memories on my mind, wanting to rewind
And get just one more fix.

I may be sober,
But the hangover remains.
Without my elixir to soothe me,
I’m left only to bear the pain.

This bottle remains empty –
A void of space that can’t be replaced.
I know that another drink could be my downfall,
So why do I long for another taste?

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)

Staying Sober During the Holidays

4200971640_53e87a01c3With the holidays coming up, I thought I might offer some suggestions on how to make it through without drinking or using – at least the things that I will be doing to keep myself focused. For whatever the reason, I think Christmas is always the hardest holiday to stay sober. Many of us are living in cold climates, there’s snow on the ground, a fire blazing in the fireplace, and a drink sure sounds good. I’ve been sober long enough that the actual urge to drink isn’t there, but feelings still play upon my heart which can be just as dangerous.

Christmas has the tendency to cause us to reminisce – to think of past loves, memories, empty promises, or broken dreams. For me, even if I’m with the people I love, the season still makes me feel like there’s something missing or things aren’t the way they “should be”. Hopefully, your memories are happy ones, but for many of us as alcoholics and addicts, there’s quite a few skeletons in our closets. The one thing we hate to feel is deep emotion inside of that shakes us at the core, regardless if it’s happy or sad. Christmas usually brings a combination of both of those feelings, so we have to be ready to combat them.

Make a Conscious Decision to Change the View You Have of Christmas 

One of the difficult things I’ve dealt with is changing my outlook on Christmas. When I was actively drinking, it was a great excuse to get drunk, party, and not feel too bad about it. New Years was just around the corner, which was another drunk fest. Sure, I liked spending time with family and friends and the whole Christmas spirit, but if I’m honest, I looked forward to the party much more than anything else. If I wasn’t getting drunk on Christmas or New Years, it was kind of like “what’s the point?” But when you’re sober, you can’t continue to view the holidays in the same way you used to because you’re either going to be miserable, be resentful, and/or get drunk.

The way I dealt with it was by trying to reconnect with my childhood self, trying to remember what it was that I looked forward to then. Ok, we all can’t pretend Santa is real again, but we can believe in the magic of Christmas and what it means.  It is a time of giving, love, gratitude, and family. By focusing on that magic, instead of the false sense of control or stability we feel when we’re getting drunk or high, we can see what we’ve been missing for many years and rediscover the magic.

For those that are Christians, it can be very helpful to mediate on the meaning of Christmas through God’s sacrifice. By keeping our attention focused on the Christ in “Christmas”, it turns our awareness away from our self and onto Emmanuel. Even if you are not a Christian, you can still use the season as a time to think about others and focus on giving instead of receiving. Viewing Christmas as a holiday about Him or them drastically changes our mindset, getting us out of ourselves and worrying about others instead of worrying about getting drunk or high.

Stay in the Moment 

This is my toughest area. Often times, the Christmas season and this time of year can make me depressed or lonely. When I get lonely, I begin looking back into the past, hanging onto “better” days. Let’s just be honest. We had some good times drinking and using. They are a part of who we are and always will be. You can’t pretend that they don’t exist, but you need to be careful of glorifying them or pretending that you could do them again because you can’t. Just as you can’t go back and relieve waiting anxiously for Christmas morning as a child, you can’t go back and have great times without great consequences. You’re a different person now, and you must recognize and accept that. When you find your mind drifting back into time, consciously try to shift it back into the present moment and make new memories. We can’t change or relive the past and will never know what the future holds. The only thing we have control over is the present. Don’t drift back into old thinking patterns. Accept your new you and be proud of the person you’re becoming and already are.

Avoiding Old Mistakes 

I think this is the area that is hardest for people without much time under their belt, but that even people with a lot of time can get tripped up on. We tend to believe that we’re much stronger than we are. We know we don’t want to drink/use. We know sobriety is the best life for us and our families, but it’s Christmas, right? What’s Christmas without a big party? Too many people put themselves in the same situations that got them in the mess they’re in and expect things to be different this time.

What’s the definition of insanity ? (I know. I hate hearing it as much as the next person, but it’s true) “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yes, you are a different person, but you’re still an alcoholic/addict regardless of how many days, months, or years you’ve been sober. It sucks, but you can’t change that. Too often people relapse not because they consciously sought it out, but because they played with fire and got burnt. I am not saying lock yourself in your home and talk to no one. I am saying be careful about going to familiar party spots that are going to bring up memories that you don’t want to deal with and temptations that are best left not tested. Remember, it’s ok to stay no. Your sobriety and life are more important than other people’s opinions of you.


Hopefully, this gave you some ideas to get started and ways to stay sober over the holidays. I wish you a very merry Christmas!

 

Photo Credit: mysza831 via Compfight cc