The Unheard



I once read about a local man who died in his apartment.  He owned lots of cats, many who were feral and sick.  The man lived in a filthy dwelling and was a loner.  No one knew he had died, and once the miserly bits of food were gone, the cats, trapped in the house with the decaying owner, started to consume the man.  It was only a few days did someone report a strange odour.

I mention this because I have always wondered who this man was.  I remember passing by the very address of this now deceased man and peering into the window.  Perhaps to catch the ghost of his sad end.  Perhaps to sense what desperation and loneliness and depression and a broken heart was like.  Little did I know then that to see all that pain and suffering, all I needed to was to look in the mirror, not the glass.

That man, that soul who I always sensed left us with the whiff of litter and liquor still in his nostrils, was someone who stuck with me, even though I never knew him.  I don’t know if he was an alcoholic or addict.  Perhaps he was mentally ill. Or both.  Or a good old fashioned curmudgeon – too angry and hurt for this world. But what I do know is that this person was one of The Unheard.  One of the lost spirits who retreated from the world or was placed there for one reason of another.   A once vibrant entity who lost their way , and hid their pain where no one could see it,  where no one dare look, where it was locked up behind hardened scabs.  Hidden in the heart.

You see, I read a lot of recovery blogs.  I participate with lots of recovering and recovered folks.  I meet and talk with and listen to men and women at meetings hear how they have turned their lives around, or who are coming back again.  People share, people talk, people have a voice.  They are heard…in many ways.  I love to hear about people’s lives becoming robust and filled with blessings that previously escaped them, oblivious that they didn’t come from a bottle, but were bottled up within, ready to be freed.  I revel in the camaraderie of those here and out there, who have sought a new way of living and see a light bounce back at them when passing by a reflection.  I seek the comfort of hearing others recount their days now, full and busy and meaningful, knowing that feeling of usefulness.

But my mind often wanders to those who don’t have the blog, who don’t show up at the meetings, who don’t meet for coffee or who don’t even know where they are at any given moment.  Those voices who I don’t hear bragging about what their kids got on report cards, who I don’t hear talk about their latest sobriety landmark, who I don’t hear describe what it’s like to not be alone any more.  The Unheard have no voices, but I feel them in some ways.  I feel that agony, that turmoil, that searing pain that shreds from the inside out.  I think of The Unheard often, because their echoes reverberate in me at some level, because for much of my life, I was one of them.


The Unheard live in fear and feel that their voice is not worth listening to. They feel invisible to others and feel inconsequential to themselves.  They compare themselves to others and always lose.  Their friends are long gone, as they had long given up on listening and being part of the Earthly Race.  Drinking and solitude is the new language, and they alone are fluent.  They are weighed down by armour, allowing nothing to come in, nothing to escape.  No one hears you scream…muffled voices that are hidden in the heart.

The Unheard roar in silence, acting out in the only way they know, drinking or using what they know will help dull the hammer of failure banging away in their very souls.  The Unheard live to be seen yet recede into the corners of life.  They want to be hugged yet left alone.  Their nightmares include sitting with themselves in a room with nothing more than the sound of their own breath and the feel of their hair on their face or tongue still in their mouth.  They lick self-inflicted wounds…wounds that are hidden in the heart.

The Unheard lurk on the edges of humanity.  They walk among us.  They work in our workplaces, eat at our tables and play at the parks.  But The Unheard scrape together and tape their shells, a Guy Fawkes façade to camouflage and confound. They talk but don’t speak.  They hear but don’t listen.  The welts of worn pain block them and allows them to only play footsies in the game of life – hidden under the table, but still real contact.  Flirting with humankind.  Tasting what they have forbidden themselves of.  Self-flagellation in the guise of humility and penance. Freedom from pain…pain harboured and hidden in the heart.


The Unheard remind me of how deadly this alcoholism is.  I flit about my day and see my friends and read people’s great and perhaps not so great days out here, but realize that The Unheard are dying.  Alcoholism kills and I sometimes forget that. Alcoholic deaths are painful, ugly, messy. avoidable.  Pathetic…in the sense of pathos, not miserably inadequate.  Or perhaps yes to both.  Alcoholism took almost everything I had.  I never understood how it could, but it did.  Robbed me of the things that were” givens” in my life – family, health, sanity.  I would add peace of mind, but that was the thing about alcoholism – it fed off and was born of the unease, the dis-ease of the mind.

As one of The Unheard, I muted my own voice because to not do so would cause me pain and suffering.  Being who I was, or who I thought I was, had brought me hurt in the past.  I shut down, I played dead, I was dead.  Inside.  And in the end, I was praying that I would be dead.  Deceased.  The man with the cats.  It looked attractive.  They say that when animals begin to devour human beings, they start with the cheeks.  Fleshy.  Abundant.  Survival starts with destruction of the front mask, the face.

My alcoholism was much like those untamed and unkempt animals, fed on my façade, the inauthentic me.  The authentic me was drowning in the booze and self-loathing.  The authentic, anointed me sat in the corner while it got fed on by the beast of burden.   The Unheard in me continued to be unheard as the din of my destructive alcoholism dined on my sense of who I ought to be, not who I really and truly was.  The me that the Creator designed for great things.  With a purpose in mind.  We all have that purpose.


By Grace, the ultimate Grace, I have been able to have my voice heard.  Small and squeaky at first.  With dry mouth, heavy tongue, body shaking with fear.  But I was able to crack open the cloistered heart and let free the light and stale air. Those who loved me and those who have forged ahead of me showed me how. Those who had strong and not so strong voices, authentic selves evolved and flourishing, showed me how.  We all have our authentic self hidden in the heart. What I have learned is that the heart is not a safe, but a treasure chest.  I don’t lock hurt and pain, but I share and keep my story, my loving intentions, my desire to help.  We all have that within.

We are no longer alone.  Knowing this saved me.  Knowing that I was not “terminally unique” cracked that safe open. Knowing that others have suffered like me and have crossed that path saved me.  When we tell our stories here, we are giving voice to The Unheard.  When we help someone out there, in the meetings, shaking a hand, sharing our experience, we are giving voice to The Unheard.  When we sit down in quiet contemplation and ask the Universe to help the still suffering addicts / alcoholics, we are giving voice to The Unheard.

The other night I lay in bed, thinking of these things, and was doing my evening prayers, which mainly consist of saying “Thank You” to the Creator for my sobriety and my life.  Now, we have a dog, a dachshund.  I love the dog, but don’t like when he’s near me in bed.  In fact, I don’t like that he’s in the bed at all, but that’s a different story.  I usually spend half the night pushing him away from me – I don’t enjoy the heat and hair from him.  This particular night, he was at my wife’s feet.  As I sat in my silence, I said to the Creator “I know that you’re always with me,  but I wish I could feel your presence sometimes”.  And as if on cue, my dog left the spot by my wife, slid under the sheets to me, and curled up at my legs.  I didn’t move him that night.

I shed a tear and said Thank You again.

I was heard.

I hear you.

Be heard.IMG_3245

53 Comments Add yours

  1. As always, brilliant. I feel like there is also a place for those who want to be heard when things are going well, but retreat back into silence when they need to be heard the most. Hmmmm. Wonder who I am talking about. This was a solid, REAL reminder of what alcoholism is capable of. And like you said, alcoholic deaths are avoidable. I loved that your dog made his presence known. Thank you for always sharing such wonderful and well written posts!

    1. Thanks MG…it was pretty groovy of the dog being there. A special moment for sure 🙂

      Thanks for the comments!


  2. mishedup says:

    the idea that I was never alone, ever….yeah. Shocked me at first, now it saves my life.
    Great post

    1. The idea of not being alone saved my life too. Odd for someone who isolates to feel connected to a group of like minded people. What a concept…lol.

      Thanks for being here 🙂


  3. Debbie says:

    wow, very moving. applause 🙂

    1. Debbie says:

      oh, and the picture of that doll creeps me out. . .

      1. Ha ha…yeah creepy doll pic. Had to put it in. Looks like it can star in it’s own movie or something. Anyway, thanks for the kind words, Debbie.


  4. Rachel says:

    I hear you Paul & I listen. I am grateful to be clean today so I may carry The Message of recovery in & out of the rooms. Well done my friend.

    1. Thank you Rachel – that’s quite a compliment coming from you.


  5. REDdog says:

    Have a great day, brother, God bless you. Respect REDdog

    1. God Bless you too, REDdog…so glad our paths have crossed, kind sir 🙂

      Love and light to you,


  6. good2begone says:

    Speechless. This post moved me. Brilliant writing. Thank you.

    1. Thanks G…that’s quite the compliment from a writer / poet / photographer / man extraordinaire like yourself. You inspire me.


  7. runningfromthebooze says:


  8. gfnj says:

    Sobriety is really special. You write so well that I can’t even picture you as one of the unheard. And yet I realize that’s how powerful dependence on alcohol can be. It stifles great minds (which we all have).

    1. Thank you – but yeah, I was an unheard for sure. It’s the isolation and fear and the feeling of being useless that kept me in that place. Who wants to hear from a loser, anyway? Ugh, how the illness keeps us ill even more. And yes, we all have wonderful, unique, beautiful, useful minds and skills to share with the world. I pray that we all use them for helping others and bringing joy.

      Thanks for the kind words and have a wonderful day


  9. So moving. It’s a scary place when you are in it! At times I have displayed scenes of desperate, broken behaviour, yet it went unheard. It’s finding the right people to listen and support that is key. We are everywhere, we understand and we want to help because we know. C

    1. You are right, Carrie, about finding the right people to listen – in other words, we have to talk to them! And that involves opening up and not being fearful. And that was a big step for me. Being open and honest…what a concept…lol.

      Thanks for the great comments.


  10. rachel875 says:

    Beautiful post Paul – feeling so ALONE in the fuzzy goop is really awful and it seems to universal in addicted people.

    1. Thank you Rachel – so wonderful to have you swing by here 🙂

      Isolation is truly a universal things for us alcoholics / addicts. The big leap for me was opening up. Ugh…hard, but saved my life.


  11. Amy says:

    I’m learning about my faith every day. Especially that it isn’t always what I want it to be, but just good ol’ faith itself.

    Have you read The Alchemist? That really got me thinking. 🙂

    1. Aha! The ol’ “it isn’t what I want it to be, but that’s why I am not in charge” kind of lightbulb moment! That’s what took me some time to wrap my head around. And still have to today. I have faith that while I may not be King of the Castle, that things will work out one way or another.

      The Alchemist? Gonna check it out – thanks for the suggestion!

      Thanks Amy


  12. “Alcoholism took almost everything I had. I never understood how it could, but it did.”
    Oh, this was so me. Then I’d sit and think, “I’m not the kind of person that lets this happen, so why am I?” Then I’d drink it away.

    Beautiful post.

    1. We drank everything away, didn’t we, Kary May? Emotions mostly. Everything else followed after that. Ugh. And the idea of being “terminally unique” didn’t make surrender easier either.

      Thanks for the kind words and for being here.


  13. road2beauty says:

    First of all congrats for new life, free from addiction and blessed with God’s grace. Very moving entry. Loved your choice of words, you actually brought my heart in my throat. Felt a big lump there all the while reading it. Probably because I am one of those unheard, searching for my voice, waiting to be heard. Humility and lack of self trust has so far prevented me from letting my creativity run loose and my talent known. But now no more. This blog is my first attempt. My first written expression. Though, has nothing to do with the story inside, but is only a gate to open up the bottled emotions.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I hear what you say about stifling our own talents. I did the same. I am still exploring and trying to figure out what there is still to figure out 🙂 But in the meantime I just let things unfold as they need to. This blog was the big toe in the water kind of deal. And it’s opened up a lot of things for me. Lacking that self-trust kept me in the shadows for more years than I care to count. I am glad you are finding that voice of yours. I am so very, very glad you are opening up. It’s amazing how that feels and knowing that others have felt like you do and still do…what power in that. And it gets easier to express oneself the more we do it. I hope you continue to open up and share…here, there, anywhere. It’s so important for people like us who had been behind the curtain and in the floorboards of life.

      Thank you for being here…please come back…and check out the other blogs.


  14. Mrs D says:

    Very lovely Paul. Very true. I do think about all those people (women especially) who are locked in a miserable drinking hell like I was. A private secret miserable drinking hell in their own homes. It’s a very lonely miserable place to be. I didn’t realise when I was starting a ‘private online journal’ for myself that I was actually reaching out to a community that was going to hear me, hear me and support me and help me. Thank fucking god I started blogging because without being heard through my words on the screen I don’t know what would have happened.

    1. And what a community you found, Mrs. D. I know that so many of the women who started their own blogs used you as their inspiration. You certainly were one of the first sober blogs I came upon and it inspired me as well. This whole thing of opening up really helps others crack open that bubble, in their own homes, in their own hearts, and share what it’s like and that in turn helps others do the same. It’s a beautiful thing we do here, Mrs. D, and you’re a very important part of it.


  15. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

    When I read your posts like this one, I wonder why you haven’t written YOUR story to share with the World?? Your voice would be REALLY heard, and many can learn SO much from you Paul……..BUT…..I do tell myself that the reason I did so???…..Was of a UNHEARD woman…..a woman who I read about in a newspaper article, no name listed, family hadn’t been notified yet,……but I Could feel her LOST SOUL in the words she left on her DEATH NOTE she left behind,……….”Tell my family I’m Sorry, I just couldn’t stop gambling.!”

    That woman’s PAIN I could feel is what made me start writing MY story of my Gambling Addcition….SO her VOICE could be heard! I didn’t want another SOUL take there OWN LIFE ever again because of *Compulsive Addicted Gambling*……..Thank You Paul for Sharing YOUR STORY…….*Hugs & Blessings!* Catherine 🙂 🙂

    1. Thanks Catherine. I remember that story you told me about that woman…and how that could have been you. I get those feelings of desperation and loneliness. Ugh, addiction is nasty business, no matter what the addiction is. And I know there are countless men and women who are glad that you wrote your story – who knows how many people read their story in yours…and how they felt they had a voice! How fantastic is that? As for my story – I am hesitant in writing my story, as frankly, it’s a dull one. I drank and screwed shit up. That’s about it. I was a dullard as a drunk and drank pathetically. Alone. Secretly. I don’t have stories with dancing monkeys or ninjas or police shootouts. I think that is why I write what I write here – more about the emotions behind the drinking, not the war stories. Tidbits of my life, the more interesting or insightful parts, in retrospect kind of thing. But thank you for mentioning that. Maybe one day. 🙂

      Love and light to you, Catherine.


      1. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

        Well, as a writer…….WE all have an untold Story. I can tell you this much Paul, you will know when it’s time…..If & When you want to write yours…:-) 🙂 That is why I put *Am I A Writer??* in the tittle of my Essay, I was pulled by *FEELINGS* that it was my time, BUT….I wasn’t expecting to publish it at the Time I was writing……That happened as a “Devine Intervention”……which is a whole other story!….LOL…Recovery looks good on YOU…..SO…..I’ll help let your Voice & Story be heard….a little…..LOL…YOU will be my *GUEST BLOG/Blogger on my Writers/Book Blog…..I’m going to Share this Beautiful, heart felt post…Here: …..People need to HEAR All About Paul!! Hugs & Blessings my good friend *Catherine* 🙂

        1. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

          OK my Friend…..You are up and LIVE on my Blog For a WHOLE WEEK!!……LOL….Blessings! Catherine 🙂 🙂

          1. Wow Catherine – that is very kind and generous of you. I am so blessed to have a friend like you out here. Thank you so much! 🙂


          2. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

            *I love Sharing your posts Paul!! Many love reading what you have to say 🙂 🙂 Hugs & Blessings!!

  16. Another beautiful and moving post, Paul. I actually think to myself, in a conscious way, each time I share about my feelings: Do it. No matter who small and trivial it seems, do it. I remind myself of this because for so many years I decided my feelings weren’t important enough to share, and consequently I locked myself in a prison of loneliness, and, ultimately, active addiction.

    I never want to be The Unheard again.

    1. Thank you Josie. It’s funny as I read your comment now, that I have been negligent in reaching out to my sponsor and some of the other friends from the program. Life has swept me up and I have been bottling some stuff in. Today is the day I let myself open up and be *heard*…lol. Take my own advice (we suck at that often, don’t we??) Gotta hit some meetings and meet up with others – this past two months has been a veritable wasteland in that department. 😦

      So thank you for these comments – it’s shown me to get off my butt 🙂


  17. Al K Hall says:

    Fantastic post, Paul. This reminds me of some thoughts i had last year driving back from a meeting in the middle of nowhere Canada…what did people do before AA? How unbelievably horrific to think of living in a time when you knew what your disease was, but had no way to treat it.

    Thank God there are people like you and your readers who are here to raise our voices so that the Unheard may hear, which is the first Step to becoming Heard.

    Keep up the good works, brother.

    1. You know, Al, I have thought that too – what DID people do before the program? Died or went insane, jailed…perhaps. I don’t see any other endings other than ugly endings. Thank God we have this. I certainly need this…some don’t and that’s groovy. And thank God for you too, Al. You’re important to me and my recovery. You have a way of distilling the truth and sharing it. You certainly are heard and I think you speak for others who are still unheard.

      Peace, kind sir 🙂


  18. Paul, this post really touched me. It’s amazing how we can live in a world with so many people yet often feel so alone. I’ve been a member of the Unheard as well and I think the little girl inside me still feels that way. I can’t go back in time and change things for her but I can listen now. I can make sure she’s heard.

    1. Beautiful comments, Karen. You’re right – we can’t undo the past, but we can change the ending in the here and now. Reading your words, I know that the little girl inside of you is certainly heard…and her resounding voice touches us all.


  19. lifecorked says:

    I love those God shots! Wonderful writing Paul. I too think about the others out there, which makes me all the more grateful for what we have here – together.

    1. Thanks Chenoa – yes, love those God shots too. Never expected, always when needed. As they should be. Thanks for the kind words, and yes, a prayer always goes out to the still suffering out there. They suffer in the rooms too.

      Gratefully yours,

  20. Lorelie says:

    Hi Paul, I too started off as one of the unheard. Way back as a child I looked to the world wondering, do you see me, do I matter? When you don’t know the answer to those two very important questions you go looking for answers. My answers came in using and so the cycle began, Your words are powerful, thank you. I too write and blog about addiction. Stop by for a visit sometime.

    1. Hi Lorelie,

      Thanks for visiting this small pocket of the universe. I have stopped by your blog and you can consider me a follower. I look forward in reading more and more there! Thanks for the comments – the “do you see me, do I matter” thing was ingrained in me from early on, so I can identify. How powerful these feelings can be.


  21. Tim says:

    Thanks for this post. I have been circling the rooms for a while after a 7+ yr run after a bit of time. It hit me like a ton of bricks as I have been focused on a point it time around 9 when I lost everything i knew. I went from being a popular well adjusted kid, said or did the wrong things, and was shunned and bullied for years. I was never the same again, vowed to never let anyone hurt me again even if it meant never knowing love. I know people love me but I also know that I hurt them incredibly because I won’t let them in. I have been in a dark place full of I could leave the world tomorrow and never look back. I am unbelivably selfish for not returning the love of my friends and family. I went to my first meeting today in over 7yrs, finally stopped making excuses and walked in the door. everybody says it but everything related to what I am going through and I just want to be free. I don’t want to hurt the ones who still love me. I don’t know whats next but if i stay sober maybe I have chance. thank you so much for the post

    1. Hi Tim,

      I am very touched that you wrote about your experience here. Very touched. I wonder how it was for you to walk through that door – that’s courage, my friend. And the reasons for doing so are yours and you’re doing it for yourself, not others. We certainly do hurt others when we’re active, even though we might think we’re not. I can relate to the bullied and shunned part, for sure. That was my calling card for years – victim of abuse by other school kids. And building that wall? I did the same. I knew people loved me, but I didn’t accept the fact that I was worthy of it. It has taken me time to come to a place where I feel that I am worthy of the good stuff in life – love, mainly.

      Thank you for sharing – this made my day. Please come by again, or email me at if you ever want to chat.


  22. runningonsober says:

    Well you know what they say about dogs…

    What does dog spell backward?


    1. Ha ha – I didn’t even think of that, to be honest. Damn – that was good. I hope your Spot is doing well!


  23. I hear you, brother. Loud and clear. And it appears that something else does too.
    Beautiful work, as always.
    Radar love,

    1. Thank you, Marius G of Small Town, USA.
      Always a pleasure having your presence felt in this corner of the world. Seeing your cheeky, debonair mug on my screen fills me with joy, kind sir.

      Hugs ’till it hurts,

  24. Erika says:

    Paul why do you always do this? Post after post after post! I shed some tears once again. Wow. Powerful stuff you write. I think anyone who gets to talk/read/meet you are truly blessed. You carry the message in the most beautiful way. Thank you, always thank you. Your faith and recovery are admirable.

    1. Aw Erika…thanks again – why do you always do THIS – write such heartfelt comments here? That is your inner beauty at work…giving and gentle. Thank you for being here and being a part of my recovery.


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