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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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)

Like Me – A Poem About Loving Yourself

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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God doesn’t make mistakes. It’s easy to compare your weaknesses to other peoples’ strengths and become discouraged; it’s easy to let it tear down your self-esteem and think you have no value or self-worth. But often times, it is our weaknesses that have the greatest potential to transform other people. Our weaknesses are what make us human and give God the greatest opportunity to reveal his glory and redemption. As hard as it is sometimes, by learning to like our weaknesses and accept them instead of hiding them in the dark, we can allow others to see God’s light and give others the confidence to open themselves as well. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve them or allow them to run our life because “that’s the way God made me”; it means we have the courage to admit we’re weak, have issues, and allow God to transform us instead of pretending like they don’t exist or trying to do all the work ourselves.

Like Me – A Poem About Loving Yourself

I like me.
I’m learning to love the flaws
I see staring back at me in the mirror…
They keep me humble.
Each time I stumble humility grows
And flows through my eyes. allowing me to accept others’ shortcomings.

I like me.
Just as crazy as I come,
Never refusing to silence the feelings that drip
Like sweet drops of honey from the tip of my tongue…
They keep me honest and open, vulnerable and true.
They give others the confidence to let down their guard
And feel comfortable walking in their own shoes.

I like me
With a belly full of fear
And a heart filled with angst…
It keeps my pride in check
And my will at bay,
Knowing that left to my own devices
I’d likely be lying in a grave.

I love me
Even when I don’t like me,
For after all, this is the way God made me.
Who am I to critique his work?
What can the clay say to the Potter,
Except to appreciate and accept
The art sculpted by His hands.
I like me because in the chaos created by my flaws
I know He brings order from anarchy and has a plan.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: via photopin (license)

The Mirror of Truth – A Poem

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The Mirror of Truth – A Poem

Into the mirror I gaze
and am wrapped within the frame
of a smoky haze of secrets swirling within glass.

I can’t deny the face,
can’t pretend I don’t know,
have no trace of realization that the figure before my eyes is me.

It’s unsettling to see the darkness,
to discover the demons in the flesh,
to witness my flaws, flogging me in the face.

Beneath this mask of pride,
there is a face scorched and seared
by lies, deceit, and by the heat of betrayal.

I know the image I wish to see,
I know the reflection my heart believes;
but within me is a darkness I prefer not to acknowledge.

The mirror of truth does not lie,
does not flinch when it brings onlookers to their knees,
does not hide delusions, but pierces the veil of our ego.

The mirror of truth is a loving master,
a humbling stone meant to trip our feet,
a pastor to turn us towards joy and away from the bonds of slavery.

I may not like the face that stares back at me,
I may not like the icy eyes, the lips of pride,
but I have the opportunity to reconstruct my image.

Morning sun, be my witness –
when you lay down to rest tonight, the flames may remain
fueled by my darkness, but will crackle beside the waters of love and grace.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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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?

Beauty’s Battle – A Poem About Endurance and Fighting Fear

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Beauty’s Battle – A Poem About Endurance and Fighting Fear

She sits engaged in a battle
Beneath the shadow of her own face,
Slowly conceding to her own demons
Brought back by their blows, crushed beneath their weight.

She wonders what’s the use in trying
When defeat has already been secured?
For what’s left of the light is dying
And her heels dangle on the verge

Of Darkness’s valley where fear stands ready
With open jaws, salivating for an easy feast.
But quick, girl, stand firm, armed, and steady.
Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you kneel at their feet.

Remember where your heart lies.
Remember your true desires not corrupted by fear.
Remember the beauty that resides beneath your blue eyes.
Remember why it is I’m still here.

There’s a flame that still flickers.
Feed it with love, faith, courage, and hope.
Know that of all the muses that have flowed from my fingers,
You’re the finest that’s ever wrote.

She pauses for reflection
And slows her breath to a stable inhale.
Suddenly, it comes to her attention
That this shadow of darkness is nothing but a paper-thin veil.

She rises boldly like an Amazon warrioress to her feet
And quickly takes aim with her bow.
Defiantly refusing to retreat,
Deciding she’s had enough of fear’s pain and woe.

The battle is not over.
She remains engaged beneath her beautiful skin.
But she’s set on never allowing herself to roll over,
And allowing the shadow of fear to win.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Upon This Rock – A Christian Poem of Grace

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Upon This Rock – A Christian Poem of Grace

Upon this rock I walk
Uncertain, yet composed.
Not crushed beneath the veil of darkness,
For with me always is a light that glows.
The demons of my weakness harass me.
Past failures breed doubts to future plans.
But upon this rock I’m free,
Caressed and cradled in loving hands.
Often I do not recognize my actions.
They are not in line with the man I know.
Ruthlessness is my natural reaction,
Yet somehow seeds of love are sown.
Anger still has moments of victory,
But the battles are swaying with tides of grace.
Love is beginning to reside within me,
Routing out my weeds of hate.
It is by no strong will of mine,
But because of this rock on which I stand.
It is only by the power of the Divine
That I am being transformed into a better man.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

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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)

Going All-In For Recovery

_DSC0016One of the most detrimental things an addict / alcoholic can do to hinder their recovery is to believe the world’s view that their problem is an external one – that if only they’d quit drinking or drugging they’d be restored, good as new. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The belief that alcohol / drugs are the problem can defeat us before we even get started. Of course our using is a problem and needs to be stopped, but it isn’t The Problem. What is the difference between the heavy drinker and the alcoholic? Well, one is able to control or stop their drinking in dire circumstances, while the other cannot.

I believe that it is imperative to recovery to understand why two people, who seem to drink the same way externally, react completely different when forced to stop. Surely, there is a chemical / biological factor that the heavy drinker doesn’t have. But I think the main difference is psychological and spiritual.

Jim is a heavy drinker. Whenever he drinks, he almost always gets completely loaded, and it’s putting stress on his marriage. When his wife comes to him with an ultimatum, Jim agrees to quit and no longer drinks. He misses it, but it does not run his life. Bob, on the other hand, drinks just as much as Jim, promises his wife to quit as well, but doesn’t last more than a day before he’s drinking again. Bob was just as sincere as Jim about quitting drinking and loves his wife just as much as Jim, so why couldn’t he stop and Jim could?

It all has to do with intention. I believe the main difference between the two drinkers is the “why” of why they drink. The heavy drinker sees drinking as something fun, exciting, and loves to party. While the alcoholic’s drinking career may start off this way, by the end they see drinking as an escape, a necessity to deal with life, and medicine to cure an internal conflict so deep that they’d rather throw their life away than face life sober.

I can’t recall ever meeting an alcoholic or addict that didn’t have a serious mental or emotional problem. Whether it was depression, bipolar, anxiety, family issues, abuse, etc., there was always something they were trying to numb themselves to. We are all sick, hurt people and using is our medicine to fix the mess inside of us. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe heavy drinkers share the same view of their drinking. The reason we can’t stop using is because dealing with our shit sober scares us so bad that we’d rather live a lifetime miserable and high.

If all you do is decide to get sober without cleaning up the internal mess, you may be able to stay sober for a little while, but you’ll either go back out for the same reasons you started in the first place, change to some other addiction to forget your problems, or be absolutely miserable. There is freedom in quitting drinking, but if you don’t deal with your demons, you can never truly be free of them.

I know this message all too well because it’s one I didn’t listen to. My main reason for drinking was to deal with an anxiety disorder and be able to relax and be the fun, outgoing person I wanted to be. I finally came to a place where I decided to get sober because it was ruining my life. But I felt sorry for myself and decided getting sober was a hard enough mountain to climb as it was and never fully dealt with my anxiety issues. It’s a blessing that over 7 years later I’m still sober. But I’m still dealing with the same feelings that I drank away all those years ago. I look back at my sobriety and know I’ve never been free. I may have been released from my prison, but I’ve still got handcuffs around my wrists and shackles around my ankles.

I am working through these issues now, but I know it would have been so much easier had I dealt with them when I first got sober. And over these 7 years there have been some close calls when my anxiety almost drove me back to drinking. Not because I wanted to, but out of self-defense because I felt like I had to drink in order to remain sane. I’ve been lucky. I am an exception to the rule, and most people in my situation turn back to using.

When you enter into recovery, submit to becoming fully recovered. Don’t just live sober. Live free. I don’t think I speak only for myself when I say that all of us have something that was driving us to use. Clear that closet out and deal with those demons, or they’ll continue to haunt you and tear your life apart, sober or not.


 

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Prayer For Guidance – How To Make Hard Decisions and Choices

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There are no guarantees in life. And in a sense, I guess that’s what makes it so beautiful. What satisfaction and joy would come out of living if we already knew exactly how our lives would go?

But on the other side of the coin, hard decisions and choices can be downright scary and stressful because they have a direct impact on the outcome of our lives. A difficult choice you make today is one that you may still be living with 20 years from now.

Choices are not difficult when they are minor tasks such as what to have for lunch or what movie to see. But what about the real tough questions? They don’t ever seem to have any clear answers do they? There are no obvious answers or signs that point you to the road to success and happiness. We worry about choosing a college, picking a career, deciding for a job change, or who I should marry. The tough part is knowing that the choice has the power to impact the rest of your life.

I believe in today’s society, we are too quick to jump on the easy road or the one we perceive will bring us the most pleasure. Often times, these roads lead to self-destruction. The best way to make a tough decision is to talk it over with a counselor, and the best place to start is speaking to the Wonderful Counselor – Jesus Christ.

By using prayer for guidance, many times we are able to discover the right road without our will interjecting. After so much worrying, one night of prayer can give us a guidance as to what decision we should make.

But sometimes even prayer doesn’t provide all the answers. We’re stuck in between two paths and feel as if God is calling us to each one. It is in these moments that God often works through other people. Be mindful of other people’s comments and suggestions. Ask those closest to you to pray for the knowledge of what choice you are supposed to make. It’s important for the people you confide in to be believers and have your best interests at heart. You don’t want someone to pull you in the wrong direction for worldly reasons.

I’m also convinced that sometimes God has two plans picked out for us and puts us in the driver’s seat to determine the path we think we could serve best on. Sometimes nothing seems to give you the insight on which choice to make even after after hours of prayer and confiding in friends. Maybe it’s God allowing you to choose your own course. That is not a license to choose the path that will most serve your needs and desires, but the one where you can best serve others and best use the gifts God has blessed you with.

These major life decisions are tough. I’m going through one of them now and am struggling to find the right path. It is easy to get overwhelmed by confusion and fear, but rest assured God stands ready to advise us on our decisions. Regardless of whether we pick the right road or the wrong road, we can be confident that God will be there to help us if we call out to him. The first step is humbling ourselves and coming to God as lost sheep, unable to find our own way. Only then can he carry and lead us back home.


 

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