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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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)

The War on Addiction

tankBreaking any addiction is hard work. There’s always a period when your body and mind fight back, and you doubt your reasoning for quitting in the first place. I think this is where most people fail. They convince themselves they don’t actually want to quit and go back to the safety of their addiction, listening to the signals their body is telling them, instead of rationally examining the reasons they are quitting in the first place.

The number one thing I see (and what I’ve learned the hard way by failing and relapsing into my addictions in the past) is that people are not prepared for what will happen when you quit any addiction. We have the desire to quit, we know we have to quit, and somehow we find ourselves in the same place we were 2 weeks ago. When we first get the desire to quit, we’re finally ready to let go and change. But we expect that same level of desire to continue through the recovery process, and IT WILL NOT. There are going to come many days when everything inside of you is screaming to go back to your addiction, that it’s not worth the pain, you can’t recover, life sucks without it, or a long list of other excuses. THIS IS NORMAL. It doesn’t mean you want to relapse, you’re a bad person, or your situation is hopeless. It simply means you’re an addict – welcome to the club.

People jump into recovery thinking it won’t be hard because they are ready. It’s never easy. If it was there would be very few people addicted. Most people neglect to realize that when they quit whatever substance or behavior they’re addicted to, they immediately wage war on both their mind and body. If you don’t attach yourself to your spiritual self, your soul, whatever you want to call it – you’re fucked. I hate to say it that way, but it’s the truth.

Those thoughts and feelings that made you feel good and excited to change…well you can kiss them goodbye. They’re about ready to turn on you quicker than you can imagine. The same mind will try to trick you anyway possible to go back to your addiction. Your body is about ready to start reacting to not having its “nutrients”, and it’s going to be pissed off about it. If you’re relying on feelings or good intention to carry you through, you’re done before you even start. You have to quit, knowing what your mind and body are going to do to you. You have to know that it is simply a trick designed to lead you right back to your next fix.

And I honestly think a lot of people are surprised by that. The day or moment comes where only 1-5% of the person still wants to quit, and they’re not prepared for it. If you’re prepared for it, you know it’s coming – it’s just your addiction fighting back. If you’re not, you get ambushed and driven right back to where you started. Your thoughts and feelings are temporary, even when they feel like they’re not. WANTING TO DRINK OR USE DOES NOT MEAN YOU’RE GOING TO! But you do have to know deep down at your core that you’re about to be in a war, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to defeat your addiction.


 

Photo Credit: @sage_solar via Compfight cc

Sobriety – The Promise Of A New Dawn

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When I first got sober, I had many misconceptions about what sobriety meant.  I told myself that once I got sober I would be happy, life would get easier, my problems would get better, etc.  In a nutshell, I thought that when I quit drinking I would be a completely different person and could start over.  Boy was I wrong.  Some of the things I hoped for did come true, but sobriety isn’t about escaping who you are.  Drunk or not, you’ve still got the same character defects.  They may not be exacerbated quite as much, but they’re still there.

In a way, life without drinking can actually be worse than life with drinking.  Let’s face it.  Being fucked up and feeling shitty sure feels better than being sober and feeling shitty.  But before you start thinking that I’m saying there’s no point in getting sober, let me tell you about the gift that sobriety holds- hope.  Yes, simple hope.  For me, that is the major difference between the two lives.  At any point when I was drinking, I would go to sleep knowing that tomorrow was going to be worse than today.  There was no doubt about it.  I would constantly keep trying to run from my troubles as they kept piling up deeper and deeper around me.  The best I knew I was ever going to feel was the moment before I went to sleep at night because it was guaranteed that waking up tomorrow was going to suck.  

In sobriety, it’s quite the opposite.  The one thing I love about being sober is that no matter what happens, life will be better once you wake up as long as you don’t drink.  I can have the worst day of my life, but still have hope that tomorrow I will have the opportunity to try again and that things won’t look so bleak.  Sobriety may not promise happiness right away or immunity to life’s pain, but it does offer the promise of a new dawn.  And that’s more than drinking ever gave me.