by Mark Goodson
Writing is therapy. I put pen to paper, key-strokes to screen to feel refreshed. On a rare occasion, it becomes a singular action to remove an obsession or urge in my life. On this even rarer occasion, it removed two.
I know right where I was when it happened: the North Park Blocks of Portland, Oregon, walking south to catch a bus home. Catherine, an old obsession of mine, texted me asking if I could give her the contact information for my cocaine dealer in Los Angeles. A mental tailspin ensued. Two triggers ignited mental gunfire: Catherine and cocaine. I saw her entire body in front me; I could taste it on my gums: lust, rage, spite—a sinister cocktail mixed in my thinking.
I called my sponsor.
“Delete the message. Then delete her name from your phone. De-friend her on Facebook. Take the Pinback CD she gave you off your iPod. Then say a prayer.”
Doing these things helped. But, antsiness remained. I continued to reel in the fervor of spiraled thinking, reminiscent to the abyss I crawled out of months ago.
The very next day I was on a plane to see family. I would make amends to my father that weekend. I took my window seat still anxious in old lust, old craving—old self.
But then it happened. Words came to me like staring at a flat body of water when rain starts to scatter ripples. A poem put the feeling on the page. I was given a shovel to bury this nonsense. Where’s my pen?
"Bing. Flight attendants prepare for take off."
“Excuse me miss,” I stop her from closing the remaining overhead compartments. “Do you have a pen?”
“I don’t. I can go back to the cabin and get one after we are airborne.”
Panic mode: the fear of words slipping away forever, the feeling that this obsession will always haunt me, the worry that my road out of misery is closing.
“I need a pen now!” My legs jerked back and forth.
“I’m sorry sir, but I’ll get one when we’re airborne.” Her voice dropped an octave and slowed to a measured cadence.
I rub my temples, caught between the euphoria of creation, and the fear of its loss.
An ascension to cruising altitude. The pen! A deep breath. The words flow:
Yesterday was yesterday.
And my tempered, stone heart
was waiting in the tide pool
of healing time, learning the
slow eternal values of incompletion.
Today your words came.
Time’s healing trickle was consumed by
a molten flow, and hardened in
the unforgiving wind.
your breathe, your forgotten
warmth, enveloped my rock while
my mind burned in the ambient fire.
How a woman rehearses my
memories I will never understand.
We reach cruising altitude and I experienced the release of revelation. This is what synthetic highs can only mimic. I thought drugs gave me wings, and they became a crutch. Now, I depend on creativity to sustain my soul.
It is my crutch that gives me wings. The spiritual high has no peak or valley; it catapults you into new dimensions where all you need is what you’re already given. You become the instrument of something great.
The next poem is hidden in some future experience or act of letting go. Already written, all I do is uncover it.
Writing, the act of creation, fills my life with purpose and passion. It helps me adhere to principles of character and discipline.
About the Author
Mark Goodson has been sober since 2007. He found writing to be the creative foundation for his recovery from drugs and alcohol. A poet until he ran out of money, he now teaches English and raises his two kids with his supportive wife. He blogs through his website: www.markgoodson.com and is always eager to see where his writing will lead him next.