Learning to Walk

We do not always remain where we are because we want to be this way. Sometimes figuring out the first steps to freedom can be absolutely paralyzing. Here is my picture of how that can be. 

I’m learning to walk.

I used to skip,

now I tiptoe around the landmines.


Think it’s strange, do you?

It’s harder than it looks, this



Crawling, falling, cowering,

those, I can do,

that, is what I know.


But I’ve forgotten how to walk.

To put one foot

in front of the other –

it’s too much.


I’ve remained at attention for so long,

one member of a mindless,

motionless throng.

We do not march,

we sit and stare ahead, blankly –

as the general shouts to his criminal soldiers,



And they come running,

right through the open doors of our eyes

tossing hand grenades and burying landmines

in our soil.


Should I try to escape?

Should I try to walk out?

If I stay I will die.

If I go I may die.

But I would die free.



The Person Who is my Secret Weapon

Is not a person. In fact it was my refuge before I discovered that defense can also be offense. The first step in overcoming an enemy is to know what the enemy is. Give it a name, know how it attacks you. Write it down. It doesn’t really matter what weapon you use, both arrows and knives can kill. So attack with ink or graphite or Microsoft Word. Use prose or poetry or single worded cries for help in all caps. The thing is that I’m learning that a letter for help is equal to an attacking charge in battle on my addiction. So I write. I write my way to freedom.

(Paragraph written at a meeting of my writing group friends in response to this prompt, which is also the title. For all prompts, we are given 7 minutes to write whatever we can. Try using the prompt yourself, let me know what you think!)

Letter to a Young Addict

A few summers ago, I stumbled upon an article about a writing group for people recovering from drug addiction. My own struggles have not been with drugs, but I knew of no other group of people in the area who might even come close to understanding what I was experiencing, and so decided to join. The hardest part was just walking through the door, but after that it was like coming home to people who could understand without needing much explanation. We were all broken and messed up – but we were learning to heal, together. This poem is in response to the prompt “Letter to a Young Addict.”

You think this is the end of your life, but it’s not.

New leaves come on the trees every year.

Maybe it feels like you’re just stumbling through darkness,

But sunrise is coming.

You can’t live a whole year in a day.

Take this one moment and use it well –

Then worry about the next.

Don’t listen to those demons in your head.

Throw some air and sunshine on them –

They hate it.

Try smiling.

It will feel strange, foreign.

But it is good. So good.

And even when you hate yourself –

Thinking that you’re unlovable,

Know that you are loved.

Life is worth living.

So live.

Counting Forward

In the process of recovery and learning to forgive myself, I want to give up very easily. It comes, nearly always as a surprise, to discover once again, God encouraging me to try again, because He’s got me.

One step forward

then run backwards.


Kneel and pray

then back flip away.


Smile sweetly

Scream inside.


Give up

          Keep going

Give up

          Keep going

Lay down

          Push forward

Just quit already

          Push on

I can’t

          Says who?

Says me

          Try again

Too many failures

          Who’s counting?

Aren’t You?

          Fall seven times, get up eight.

          Fall seven times, get up eight.


          This is how I count.

Candle in the Dark

This one describes the feeling of hopelessness that I often fell into. I hated what was happening to me, but felt powerless to change anything. And then comes that small spark of a thought that maybe, there is hope after all . . .


Once you get sucked into a black hole

There’s no getting out.

That’s what I’ve heard.


So I curled up in my closet

And huddled around a little flashing light.

Maybe the pictures would numb my nerves;

the music might mask my crying,

On this train ride to hell.


Sometimes it did,

But it also sped up the train.

I came to depots I’d never heard of –

And soon wished I had never learned.


I’m terrified that they were right –

That black holes really do take everything.

That this railroad only gives one-way tickets.


But sometimes when the track curves a little –

I look back.

And there’s a light in the darkness.

A candle, consumed by the flame –

Could it be for me?

For my darkness?


Could it really defy the powers

that drag me down,

And make me free indeed?

Back and forth with James

At the Bible study that a friend group and I have each Saturday morning, we went through James 1, from verse 12 to the end of the chapter. This is what I wrote in response to verses 13-18 later that afternoon. Let me know what you think! 🙂

Now then, what

will you choose –

a birth that gives way

to death,

or a death that leads

to birth?

Black Hole

Black hole sucks me in like one of those big coin funnels.

Put the coin in the slot and let it roll down –

making smaller and smaller circles

around the hole,

till it drops



I woke up in prison today,


I used to come to visit

out of curiosity.

Once every couple of months

Once a month

Once a week

Every day.


Until finally the boss said

“Why don’t we just –

make a room for you?

I’m sure you’d like it.”


And I did.

This room had a TV

there were books and food.

A gorgeous room

With a window so I could see

my friends. But I was not

really with them.

Only a few noticed the heavy pack,

full of worthless treasures.


The boss gave me a new job

since my old job was so far

away from my shiny fancy cell.

(Am I the only one who couldn’t see?

It was tarnished already.)

He made me a prison guard

of my own cell


Sounds odd – I know.

But it’s extremely effective.

It’s very hard to escape

from myself.


Then I saw

my cell was getting cold,

and gray,

and damp.

Everything the boss gave, created

flash floods in my soul,

rivers –

destroying my earth and leaving

dead chasms

in their wake.


And so I tried to escape.


But I’m also the prison guard

And there’s no way in hell

that I’m letting me out.


I like the highs, the rush.

Makes me forget for two


The crashing halt

that leaves me dumb, gasping

for breath, two weeks later,

no words to give voice

to a dying heart.


My window has shrunk.

Now it is very small, but

I can see light peering through.

And I wonder,

what would it be like to live

in sunshine,

and not in glitter?


I live in a portable prison.

It goes where I go,

But I go where it tells me.

Sisters by Heart

Six closed doors

hiding ready-made beds.

Cobwebs and bugs take the place

of laughing girls

Memories hang in the air like mist.

Girls, living and breathing and working and playing.


But I cannot hear them,

I cannot feel them,

I usually don’t even realize that they were here.

Their memories are not mine.


I am lonely.

A loner unexpectedly too isolated for my liking.

No one near to share new culinary masterpieces,

compliments of Chef Necessity.

No one to pull me out of my hermit ways ever so


with love and



But then –

behind the closed door down the hall

arrive two suitcases,

one green backpack,

a Canon camera,

and you.


In half an hour you are a pleasant acquaintance.

The next day you are my friend.

A week later I do not want to remember the painful silence

of the days

before God matched my life with yours.

Now, you are – guess what?

My sister.


You are not the first,

and I am certain –

you will not be the last.


I remember, being the youngest of three

and yet in some ways an only child.




for a sister.

She never came.


I am the youngest child of a youngest child in a





But don’t ever tell me

that shared genetic heritage is a prerequisite for love,

that sisterly affection and protection

requires identical parentage

or the same last name.


Because I remember that girl

who took my hand,

and led me through a maze of

Spanish words,

Chilean micros,

Humitas made of choclo.

She listened –

to a homesick little girl’s memories

of home.

That girl, is my sister.


And I remember you,

yeah you –

girl with the cheeky grin and light brown skin

and jet black hair that wouldn’t curl,

no matter how much you tried.

Bubbly, energetic, strong willed firecracker.

Heart so big and laughter so full.

You let me be me, and loved me for it.


You girl. Yes you –

You’re my sister.

And I thank God for you.


And I remember,

in the sunny, hot,

sticky South –

Your Alabamian drawl clinging to you

like a persistant shadow,

with a good natured smile to match.


Us two shy little mice, who would have thought?

that someday they’d think we were




calling you me, and me you.

Well, they had a point you know.

It’s not everyday that two people are born able

to see right through another.


All you girls,

spanning every continent,

country after country,

filling holes in my heart that fit you perfectly.

teaching me

what it is to love –

with my voice and hands as well my heart.

to serve –

with the only reward being another’s relief.

to laugh –

with the sheer joy of being alive.


Love you bunches.