Sharing my Ramblings

By Russel S.

My rock bottom was horrific and resulted in an attempt at suicide. Back then, I hated my life, I hated myself and I wanted to die but as it turns out, I was very afraid of death. The paradox of my recovery is that I now love life, I love living and I have learned to love myself and treat myself with kindness. I do not want to die, but death is no longer something I fear as I know it is just part of my journey as a human being.

I have developed the view that recovery and sobriety is something I have to work at constantly. It is imperative for me to perpetually train my mind and coach myself in a new way of thinking to be the genuine and authentic version of myself – the best “me” I can be. Perhaps in the same way that an athlete trains for his sport on a daily basis to be the best competitor he can be.

Part of my “exercise” regime is journaling about my addiction and recovery. This takes many forms; I write gratitude lists, letters to people past and present (most never actually sent), essays and a bit of poetry. I have personally found this activity to be very cathartic for me personally. For me, getting my thoughts down in writing has a twofold benefit: (a) I find the process purgative and cleansing and (b) I can go back in my journal and recollect the state of my mind at that time in my recovery journey.

Disclosing my journaling is a thorny problem. Of course, the writings are quite personal, but the complication arises as to my reasons for sharing them. I always have to check my motives about sharing some of my ramblings. Am I seeking affirmation? Is it ego related? Etc. It’s always a bit tricky to find the absolute honest rationale.

That said, I have decided to share something I wrote in 2019 as I truly believe that it could be of benefit to others as it details some of my journey and the avenues I pursued to find a manageable way to live with my disease.

The Goal Post

The goal post forever shifting, never knowing how to fit in
Happiness so out of reach, what to learn, what to teach
How to act and how to be, who is the genuine me?
Where to find authentic truth, so conflicting from my youth
Life changed, I grew estranged or perhaps deranged
Disconnected from the world, it all appears extremely blurred
Who is that guy I used to be? A spurious stranger or simply me?
Where to look where to seek, the philosophy of an ancient Greek
Socrates professed a method, which the parliament rejected and thus to his death directed.
Aristotle extraordinarily wise, but how to know they weren’t just lies?
A demonic narration, like the matrix simulation or Descartes’ meditation
Zeno, Seneca and Epictetus did they have something they could teach us?
These Stoics claimed to know a way, but does their code apply today?
”Virtue brings forth happiness”, I kinda like its snappiness
But does it have a practical place on a rock hurtling through empty space?
Perhaps my search could be ceased, by the sages of the East
Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching, may extinguish life’s harsh sting
But I am neither water nor am I stone; I am living flesh on bone
Confucius schooled morality, justice and sincerity to achieve some normality
Life’s not that complicated, it’s my mind that’s infiltrated, perforated
So many philosophical isms, unfeasible to take a position with conviction
Religion claims clarification on how to deal with temptation
But who or what is a god, it is to me rather odd, flawed, a fraud
Conjured to deceive, something hidden up a sleeve but not to believe
I cannot put all my faith in a wraith, somehow it just feels unsafe
Like magic beans, sleepless dreams and internet memes
So unsettled, so confused, my mind suffers and feels abused
What should I do?  I need a break-through to find the TRUE and not be blue
I searched and yearned. Is happiness learned, or maybe earned?
I want to give up and seek no more. Looking for peace is such a bore, a real chore
How do I break free of anxiety and find illusive serenity
My brain’s continual commotions with ever present unruly emotions
Unconditional happiness is what’s most desirous
A Bhodi tree could inspire near the village of Bodhgaya
Where Buddha finally freed his mind and was no longer confined
To society’s hectic bustling plundering and innate suffering
I crave for the panacea, and suddenly a humble idea
From deep within my mind wakes  a notion to be refined
Perhaps I read it or someone said it
A thought so profound, what you seek cannot be found while you’re still looking around
Only when my searchings’ cease, can I begin to find any peace
It has been there all the time, hidden, subtle and sublime
A tiny spark of excitement on discovering this enlightenment
Living life consciously, humbly with love compassion and honesty
Irrelevant is what has past and so daft to live by forecast
What I need is enrolment, to only living in the MOMENT
Significant is the here and now, not elite, not high-brow
A concept that’s so simple to grasp, to live in the NOW and not in the past
The future imagined is mostly unpleasant, so I do my living in the PRESENT
No longer a human doing and perusing
A human BEING, is all too freeing.

Russel is an alcoholic and addict whose active addiction began early in his teens. After a horrendous and terrifying rock bottom he  was duped into attending rehabilitation in 2015 and has been clean and sober ever since. He co-founded the first secular AA meeting, Secular Serenity, in Cape Town, South Africa in 2017 which remains his home group. He is a student of philosophy and enjoys writing poetry about his addictions and recovery. In his free time he enjoys serene activities such as motorcycling, scuba diving and deep sea fishing.

Back in January Russel wrote this article, posted on AA Agnostica: MY Program, not The Program.


5 Responses

  1. Russel S says:

    Thank you all for your kind comments. It really gives me courage and inspiration.

  2. Andrew H. says:

    A terrific poem I simply wanted to share:

    by Naomi Shihab Nye

    Before you know what kindness really is
    you must lose things,
    feel the future dissolve in a moment
    like salt in a weakened broth.
    What you held in your hand,
    what you counted and carefully saved,
    all this must go so you know
    how desolate the landscape can be
    between the regions of kindness.
    How you ride and ride
    thinking the bus will never stop,
    the passengers eating maize and chicken
    will stare out the window forever.

    Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
    you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
    lies dead by the side of the road.
    You must see how this could be you,
    how he too was someone
    who journeyed through the night with plans
    and the simple breath that kept him alive.

    Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
    you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
    You must wake up with sorrow.
    You must speak to it till your voice
    catches the thread of all sorrows
    and you see the size of the cloth.

    Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
    only kindness that ties your shoes
    and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
    only kindness that raises its head
    from the crowd of the world to say
    It is I you have been looking for,
    and then goes with you everywhere
    like a shadow or a friend.

  3. Doc says:

    I have done journals off and on over the years. The journal entries help me see patterns in my life, in my behaviors.

  4. Nancy says:

    Enjoy your writing! Always happy when the Greek philosophers are mentioned and appreciated. I had to go way back in time, i.e., pre-god, in order to find a rational means for living my life.

  5. Glenn Rader says:

    Thank you for sharing a portion of your journal with us Russel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I particularly liked the line: “Like magic beans, sleepless dreams and internet memes.”

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