Twenty One Days


(I read a post by Sherry at Maintain the Zen a few weeks ago, and it was just beautiful.  She wrote a letter to herself, speaking to herself as a little girl.  I guess it must have stayed with me, unconsciously, as tonight, without any provocation,  I felt guided to do something of the same.  I am always nudged in one way or another, even if I am unsure of where I am being nudged towards, as I am this.  This is pretty much free form stuff, nothing planned or thought through.  Which is why it makes it a bit frightening, but that’s a good thing.  I need to be scared witless at times.  Anyway, I thought I would do this as me visiting myself while at treatment. )

Yes, it’s me.  You.  Well, you know what I mean.  Calm down…I can explain the space – time continuum thing another day.  No, you’re not hallucinating. You got that stuff out of your system a few days ago, so just be glad for that. You’re already glad for that?  Good.  You’re going to be glad for a lot of things in your new life. And what was that?  Yeah, I know, I know…just don’t eat chocolate bars for breakfast and it won’t get that big. Never mind that.

What? How long have I been sober for now?  I won’t say, but’s its more than you ever thought possible.  I know, I know…one day is more than you ever thought possible. But you’re at five days now.  How does it feel? Never mind – don’t remind me. I am glad I am not you right now. Oh stop it – don’t take that so personally.  I forgot how much we used to take things to such heart.  Sensitive, aren’t we? What was that?  No, we haven’t quite learned to completely stop interrupting others.  Is that annoying you? Be glad that interrupting people is one of the worst things you’ll be doing when you’re on this side of the fence.

Look, let me just make something clear.  I know that you think I shouldn’t be telling you stuff about what is going to happen.  But regardless of what I say, things will unfold the way they need to unfold.  Of course I will keep a few tasty morsels of information to myself, but that’s only because there are some things you will need to figure out on your own.  Not a lot, because trying to figure it out all on your own got our sorry ass here in the first place.  So just sit and relax.  I will get us some coffee.  Sit. Oh wait, sitting is hard right to do now, I forgot.  All wrangled up on the inside will do that.  Just stand.  I will sit. You get the coffee.


I know you’re scared.  We’ve never been in this kind of trouble before.  And you won’t be in this kind of trouble after, if you do the things that you need to do to get and stay well.  These days will pass before you know it.  Don’t be concerned about everyone else right now.  Our family is being cared for now. Friends and other family are holding them deep to their chests, loving them and cherishing them in ways that you haven’t been able to do so in a long time.  Yes, I know you love them, but they are getting the connection that you never gave them.  Fingers are gently combing their hair, their sobs absorbed and hearts opened up and wrung out.  They love you but need to feel loved themselves…deeply centered, truly felt.  Your time with them will come.  Right now, it’s me and you and our Creator.  Sit, Paul.  Sit beside me.

All the things that you’re worrying about will eventually start to work themselves out.  Not the way you may want them to, but they will work out.   It’s not our plans anymore.  Remember where you were a few days ago?  Detox?  That’s where our plans brought us.  Letting go will be your thing.  I know, I know.  How can we do that when the weight of the world is on our shoulders?  Trust me in saying that when we start to let go, the only thing our shoulders will be used for is tossing the boys around when they jump on you, cackling and drooling on the couch from laughing so much.  Yes, I said boys. Plural.  That will be something that will reveal itself later.  Much later.

Focus on your recovery, Paul.  Pull it in and look around you here: men, hurting, screaming on the inside, barely stitched together by fear and hope and chemicals and the chance that someday they won’t die in their own shit and lonely and rotting away because anyone that cared for them ever got pushed out of their lives.  Like you were heading towards.  We were.  Look at you, Paul.  Look.  You’re no different than these other men.  Get your head out of your ass.  Look at these men now.  You’re them.  They’re you.  You’re me.  Love these men.  Love them.  Love them because I know you don’t love yourself right now and it hurts, hurts like claws ripping you from the inside, and you have love in you and just fucking use it because it will die and wither – just like you’ve felt yourself dying and withering all our lives.

tumblr_m9do0roJCX1qacnamo1_400Ok, let’s take a breather here, here’s some tissue.  Have some more coffee. Good thing it’s decaf here.  Triggers and all that jazz.  Breathe.  Now breathe again.  Feel that?  That release, that lightness, that feeling of being centered?  You’ll be doing that a lot.  I know meditation isn’t our thing.  Or at least wasn’t, but it will keep you connected to the Creator – He who will take those thoughts of drinking away.  Yes Paul…they will go.  I know it’s hard to understand it, to believe it, but the day will come and I can’t even remember the day myself, that you will wake up and the desire to drink will vanish.  Like a wisp of smoke, it will dissipate into the wind of our recovery and free us from the iron locks that keep you down now, anchored to the thing that wants you – us- dead.  And the thing is, Paul, is that the thing that wants us dead will never die.  It will be with us forever.  The good news is that we bury it as much as we can.  We get to do it.  We do it.  It’s happening slowly right now in you.  You just don’t even know it yet.  And that is how much will happen to us – He will work through us and throughout us and have no clue until whatever it is we need to learn or do is done.

All the things that made us want to drink – the self-loathing, the hatred, the anger, the fears, the lack of self-esteem, the lack of confidence…these things start to fade.  They lose their power.  We learn to deal with life.  We move through our fears.  We don’t have to fight life any more.  We don’t fight people nor do we fight booze.  We just handle the things that made us want to drink in the first place, and then poof – we don’t need to drink.  Isn’t that a miracle?  I can see you looking at me like I am insane, but I say this from experience – we grow out of things.  And we grow into things.  And we soar above what we think we are and we don’t get smaller, but we start to become who we were created to be, Paul.  I still am on that journey, I am just ahead of you a bit, leaving you breadcrumbs and little signs to let you know where the booby traps are, where the snags are, where the dips in the road are.  But you will still hit those dips.  You will stumble, and you will hurt. And yet you will become stronger, and drinking will be but a distant memory.


Here are some things that I can promise you.  You will start to like yourself. You will break out of our old self-hatred.  You will see yourself as He sees you.  As others have seen us – a caring and loving man.  A devoted man.  A man who feared his sensitivity, his resiliency, his strength, his talents and his capacity for love so much that he turned those things against him and split himself into two, and fed the beast of negativity and denied the gentle soul its nourishment.  We learn to nourish and heal ourselves after we put the bottle down.  That’s part of the work.  One day you will be riding your bike home and will be guided from within to sit on a bench and you will cry your eyes out for our old us.  You will cry and thank God for Him and you will forgive yourself…because you will come to see that you’re not a bad person, a horrid being, a stain on humanity.  You are who you were meant to be and you will cry for that man and grieve that old us and then it will pass like the hazy lights through a tunnel, like fireflies passing through the trees and etching their fading  glow onto the night sky.

You will learn from others, and you will learn from those you never expected to learn from.  The haters, the doubters, the tormentors.  The places you used to run from within yourself you will face head on.  You may still run at some points, but you will still be facing things.  You will not be perfect.  And please, please, please stop thinking that you can be.  We tried and it didn’t work.  We still think we run the show at times, and we suffer for it.  We still think at times that we can drink normally, but we know in our mighty core that it’s a lie.  We are done with the drink, Paul.  That chemical romance is no longer.  But we have other things that will come up in our life that will make the bottle pale in comparison.  Like working with others. I know, I know…I didn’t like others either. But believe me, our stripes change.


You will actually like working with others, helping others, being with others. It’s the stuff we resisted for a long time.  I remember being in other people’s company was torture.  It won’t be like that anymore.  Being of service will make us better people.  It still works for me.  You won’t look at people as scourges wanting something from you anymore.  You will find your connection with men (yes, men) and women will change.  We no longer fear either.  We don’t feel disconnected to the human race.  We will go out of our way to feel the depth of belonging that we have always craved, in the same way we craved the alcohol.  Our depth of connection to a greater power out there will keep us afloat.

You will see people come and go, Paul.  Remember that. People you feel strongly towards will fall by the wayside, never to be heard again.   But that’s the power of this illness.  All I can offer to you is to love fearlessly.  You will be hurt.  I still get hurt, but I know that is part of the journey.  We love without any reward other than loving for its own sake.  It’s the blood that keeps flowing through us, and as you open yourself up to it, and the the simple things in life that feed and keep that blood flowing, the stronger we become.  And the better condition we are to open up to others.  The cycle will continue to grow. And so will we.


I have to get going shortly, Paul.  I was told this was to be a quick visit. You’re here for twenty one days.  A lot is going to change in those twenty one days.  I can’t say how I was sent here, but you will intuitively know this later on.  But there are some little things you ought to know…just little helpers:

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  Don’t let things sit with you for long – talk about it with someone.  When faced with the fork in the road, take the tougher path – it’s more rewarding. Give of yourself even if you get hurt.  Play fair.  Eat well. Love fair.  Give well.  Keep a teachable mind.  Don’t shirk or shrink from others.  Set boundaries and stick to them.  Play. Don’t take yourself so seriously.  Take your recovery seriously.  Pray.  Meditate.  Smile more. Be honest – lies are hard to remember.  Move through your fears. Carve some laugh lines.

And finally, listen to that voice inside of you that tells you what the right thing to do is.  It’s always correct – never wrong.  Do what it says, even if it sounds silly or small or inconsequential.  It all has consequences.

You matter, Paul.  You matter, you are worth it, you are loved, you are meant to be here and you are deserving of this.  I know you don’t feel those things, but I do.  And do me a favour.  Spread the word to others.  Spread hope. Spread love.  Spread joy.  Carry the message.  Maybe even write about all this stuff…even if no one reads it.

Carry hope, Paul.  And watch the chocolate bars.  tumblr_mah97q2me01qlzrydo1_500

31 Comments Add yours

  1. REDdog says:

    Oh, I think there’s a pretty good chance people will be reading your stuff, man. Encouragingly confronting? Confrontingly encouraging? All good, either way. Respect Rd

    1. Ha ha…love how your brain works, kind sir. Thanks again for your support – you are a kind soul. Hope you are having a groovy weekend 🙂


  2. jamilynaz says:

    Beautiful post, Paul. I love your writing. 🙂

    1. Thank you Jami…as I do yours 🙂


  3. sherryd32148 says:

    Wow…this touched me in a place in my soul that doesn’t often get touched. There were parts when I actually hurt for that young man. Wow.

    Thank you for the shout out but more than that, thank you for this post.



    1. Awww, thank you Sherry. I loved your letter…this didn’t do it justice, but I think the sentiment is always there – current us watching out for past us. A changing of the guard, a placemark to catalogue our journey.

      Thank you for being the inspiration!


  4. Rachel Lugo says:

    Very powerful Paul – thank you for sharing such a personal journey.

    1. Thanks Rachel – I am so glad you found this corner of the world 🙂
      Your lovely comments are very much appreciated


  5. Meg says:

    Beautifully written. Really, really lovely. Thanks for sharing. We all need to remember what 5 days looked like…

    1. Thanks Meg – very kind of you.

      I have enjoyed checking out your blog 🙂

      And yes, five days isn’t always pretty, but it’s five more days without alcohol. What a great thing that is, in the grand scheme of things.

      Love and light,

      1. Meg says:

        Every–E.V.E.R.Y.–day that an alcoholic doesn’t drink is a miracle.

  6. Such a thoughtful letter to yourself with great advice. I really relate to grieving for our old selves. We aren’t bad people because of the choices we made, we just need to keep making better choices. This is a beautiful way to honor who you’ve become without forgetting how you got here!

    1. Thank you Karen – we certainly aren’t bad people…even if we do “bad” things in the grips of our alcoholism. I don’t wish to forget, at the same time I don’t dwell. Neither is of use to me or others.

      Thanks for being here 🙂


  7. runningonsober says:

    Goosebumps…. Well f’ng done. Loved it.

    1. Great compliment coming from you, Christy. Thank you 🙂

      Have a great weekend – which means I have to check out the words for the weekend!


  8. byebyebeer says:

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all got a letter like this when we were first serious about getting sober? Like ‘okay, I guess I can do this because here I am saying I did do it’. And we did do it so it was true, but maybe just hearing it then would build momentum where there was none. This letter is the next best thing to a break in the space-time continuum.

    1. Ha ha…I just picture Back to the Future as I read your post…unraveling time and space to help a poor sod of a drunk. But would we take that letter seriously? I don’t know if I would, but it would be pretty trippy, yeah? Love your comments, BBB. Always glad to have you here in this corner of the world.


  9. furtheron says:

    When I’m treatment they got us to write a series of letters to ourselves for sometime in the future. They sent taken to me over the coming months. Was both embarrassing and inspiring in equal measure.

    1. I agree. I saw other guys get that assignment, but not me! Why not me??? Ha ha…self pity and ego maniacal. I guess this my version of it. But you’re right – inspiring and cringe worthy as well.

      Thanks for the comments, Graham 🙂


  10. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

    WOW……Paul, Thank You! What a Powerful thing to do. I’ve thought about doing that myself, saying a Final Goodbye to my Gambling Addiction, but I just haven’t had the BALLS to do it yet, I don’t know why????…..I’ve already bared all in my book, the world knows all my little dirty secrets, but I think it’s the Finality of it I suppose, not sure I’m ready to say, “I Won’t Ever Gamble Again”……I know, sounds crazy but I tell my self each day now, “Just for today, I don’t have a to place a Bet”…… is how I have managed to string 6+yrs together. Writing my book was part of letting it go. I’ll get there……..Catherine 🙂

    1. A good reminder to pick up your book 🙂

      I know there is a link on your site. Writing is very cathartic, isn’t it?



      1. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

        You have NO Idea 🙂 I got the calling to write and share my story about 4yrs into my recovery from addicted gambling.
        I happen to read a newspaper article that caught my eye about a woman found dead in a Indian Casino hotetroom about 45 miles from where I live.

        I as I read the story that she shot herself, and a note was found to her family, tears ran down my cheeks…..because I was ALMOST HER…..I to tried to end it all…..TWICE…..I felt her pain she must have felt before pulling that trigger…….So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote!……YES, you should read my book….
        Hugs & Blessings Paul, Cat

  11. Paul, even though this is an older post, I believe I was meant to read this after the passing of my friend. I have to wipe the tears away as I type. This is inspired writing. I am so glad New Paul is around to share his wisdom, and I am so grateful to be around to absorb it.

    1. Oh my goodness! I missed this Josie – so sorry. Thank you for the kind words, as usual. I am glad New Josie is around to hang out with New Paul 🙂 Win for me!


  12. Your writing is amazing. I just can’t even put into words …
    I think everyone trying to change their lives should be reading this. I really do. There are so many people that need to read this.

    1. Thank you so much…so very kind. Took me a while to get there…I hope others get there sooner than I!! Talk about endless insanity…lol.


  13. bottlingout says:

    “You will start to like yourself” – after three days I’m just about starting to think I might be ok, hoping I’ll get to like soon. Thanks for helping me hope x

    1. There is hope…there is always hope, Where there is breath there is hope. Just think of the things your daughter likes about you. Perhaps you can like those about you as well. Self-love goes a far way. It took me much longer than three days to figure that out…so you’re ahead of the game 🙂


  14. Erika says:

    Paul, I am crying to the point of sobbing. You know, I had a less-than-hot day today, but I went to the gym nonetheless, I didn’t give into bingeing and I caught up with my bloggers. I don’t always read your posts when they appear on my Reader because I know they will be posts for insight, and I need to be focused, and willing to read something that will resonate with me and make me wake up to so many things I try to keep dormant.
    This is beautiful beyond words, beyond explanation. I don’t know what else to say. All I have to tell you is how grateful I am for you to be carrying the message and allowing us to grow and learn through it. You are a gift, Paul. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

    1. Awww….Erika. I am sorry you had less than a hot day. I can see that the fact that you fought the bingeing meant it was a rough one. And that’s wonderful that you didn’t. You went to the gym instead – how great is that. Even if you didn’t feel like it. You made a positive deal there.

      Thank you for the kind words – I am glad it resonated with you. All we can do is relate our experiences – you do as well on your wonderful blog. This is how we build community – through our experiences and relating to them. You are certainly part of my community. Thank you for being here, Erika. I am sure today will be a brighter day 🙂


      1. Erika says:

        No, thank you for ALWAYS being here, Paul! and, this may sound crazy and all, but I was thinking the other day that on my wedding day (whenever that is) I would love to have a whole table for my blogging community! So, know that you and your wife have an invitation to a Mexican wedding in a near future, I hope! Now, I don’t even have a boyfriend yet haha, but I am already planning ahead 😉

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