The Alcoholic in Recovery

I may be cynical, getting older, more set in my ways
And I may not have the tongue of an angel, or much love for my fellow man
My recovery begins with slowly peeling back the layers
Of pain that you experienced by anyone as a small child,
Those hurts that your parents caused you growing up
When you were bullied on the school field or by your siblings
Death becomes you people say and I was close to it once or twice

Mental illness makes for riveting reading – that chemical romance
When the liquor is a cold thirst quencher and golden brown,
Texture like a pilgrimage, a small happiness that deprives me of self-loathing
On good days it feels as if I am stepping into the sea fading away
On the bad days it also feels as if I am stepping into the sea fading away
Fading away to nothing, a hopeless cause filling in the blank spaces with a drink
(If my childhood was wonderful maybe I would have turned out different)

Or if I could still see the world around me
Through the eyes of a child, if I could have the imagination of a child
All my life I’ve wanted laughter to fill in the details, the perfect wife,
Those children but I never followed that sunny road instead my path is blue
My mood too. I reach for my cigarettes. I’ve taken note of the African Renaissance
And I write a little poetry. Depressing poetry. I’ve been in love before.
Women can never resist a poet and a man who they think they can change.

For a long time I preferred alcoholism and being alone.
Living in that half-hallucinogenic half-dream world (I could tolerate that)
Not the width of a thread of the planet earth, the material world, or modern society
Flashbacks now to those warm nights
The nights of when I was a child of the wasteland of the eighties
If I had married I would have been a disappointment (some men never grow up)
I was still a boy at heart even though I was a grown man

I remember those pretty nights, those warm nights, those savage years
As I slowly became a young man who ventured out into the strangeness of the night
And became acquainted with the stars, star people other men who drank like me
And didn’t believe in silver linings, divorced men, men who remarried, men who were unhappy
In their relationships and I thanked God I wasn’t one of them. I was but I wasn’t.
The air was always alive with possibility and flashbacks of the time when people
Told me I had so much potential.

The idea of alcoholism gave me an identity for a while
I isolated myself from a part of humanity that considered themselves to be the middle classes
Sometimes I would drink in my house by myself sometimes I would go out and drink
The house is so quiet, too quiet, so I drink to escape the facts of the matter,
The bad habits I have introduced into my life
But in the end I wanted to save my skin, I had enough of ‘to suffer means to sacrifice’.
And the fact that addiction gives you bright conversation.

Abigail George is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated South African essayist, poet, short story writer, and novelist.

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