National Recovery Month Poem: “Affliction”

Hello Recovery Writers. So the Story Project is almost over and I think it’s been a success! However, as you know, in months before WfR has done dedicated poetry. And you know me, I couldn’t resist- I had to include one poem for National Recovery Month! This is a poem I began quite a few years ago and just recently picked up again to finish. I hope each of you can identify with it a little bit. Take care everyone and as always, thank you for reading! Peace, Sarah






I’ve spent most of my life doing battle

With this cunning and baffling affliction


It’s so common yet each one’s unique

The disease that we call addiction


What a tragic waste of a girl

Who had potential to do so much


To spend her young life believing

She needed a chemical crutch


Hers came in the form of starvation

Then puking and cutting and pills


It seemed there was never an end

To her frightening array of ills


What no one knew was the cause

The reason she had to stay sick


To distract from her internal pain

Nothing else did the trick


Everyone has their own reasons

We all started because we were hurt


We needed to numb the feelings

Make those toxic emotions inert


Whatever the substance is

The disease is exactly the same


It’s rooted in pain and dysfunction

In guilt and trauma and shame


Addiction does not discriminate

Anyone can fall into its grip


Before you know it you’re loved ones are gone

And all that you own has been stripped



This is so disturbingly common

Yet people don’t like to talk


Even though it’s a routine affliction

When I ask them to speak, people balk


I have asked for people’s stories

But so much shame comes with this disease


I have not gotten many responses

Who are we trying to please?


The more that we’re open about this

The fewer people will die


Addiction’s a fatal disease

I was fortunate to survive


I was given a second chance

So I’m doing all that I’m able


To spread hope for recovery

For lives that are happy and stable



© Sarah Ann Henderson 2011





About writingforrecovery

Sarah is a writer and poet who speaks out about issues that make people uncomfortable. Sarah advocates for causes such a sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness, and often speaks openly about her own experiences. She is determined to abolish the stigma associated with these issues and believes that it starts with people telling their stories, so she started a blog called Writing for Recovery where people can do just that. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and is currently at work on her fourth. She is convinced that there's a novel somewhere in her, and occasionally picks at the chapters so far. View all posts by writingforrecovery

2 responses to “National Recovery Month Poem: “Affliction”

  • Leslie Robin Neshama Kassal

    Sarah – As always, thank you for your courage. My affliction, my addiction is binge eating. I have been doing it for decades, and you remind me of the shame and the pain. Sarah – please talk about how you recovered from the anorexia and bulimia you carried. I carry the heavy weight of binging – it is my not-so-secret secret. I feel so lonely. Thank you for listening and for receiving. And Sarah, keep on keeping on. It is right to Write for Recovery…..Blessings, All.

    • writingforrecovery

      Leslie- It is so difficult to carry that weight on your own. My process of recovery was a very long one, but please remember that everyone’s recovery is extremely personal, individual, and happens in its own time. I had to go through many years of outpatient groups and therapy, as well as inpatient hospitalizations and residential treatment centers before getting to a place where I was even ready to accept the CONCEPT of recovery. For the most part, all the things leading up to that were preparation and learning, and keeping me alive long enough to be able to finally make that choice to recover for myself. Eventually, I ended up getting there by living with some people who had no eating disturbances; something that took the pressure off me as far as cooking and shopping went, and kept me from engaging in my food craziness. I also was in outpatient therapy and had finally gotten to a place where I had done the majority of my trauma work, dug out that shame core, and begun to care about and respect myself. NOT an easy thing to do, but a very essential part of recovery. Finally, I started focusing on life outside of therapy! I began to create a world in which my eating disorder didn’t live. One filled with writing and school and friends and a future. I created plans for that future that I really cared about- and had to have a healthy body to make happen. I started to define myself as something other than a patient, and be proud of myself for valid reasons. You have to have that or the shame will continue to just eat you alive. That’s really what I found, that the shame is your biggest enemy. It will keep you from opening up, keep you sick, keep you stuck, keep you hating yourself, keep you exhausted and sad. DON’T LET IT! Remember that shame is just an emotion; an uncomfortable one, for sure, but it’s only a feeling and you are the one in charge. The only way to tell shame to go to hell is by saying the thing it wants you to keep quiet. There is tremendous power in that, more than you can imagine. Use that power to fight.

      I hope that helps, and I wish you the best on your journey. Peace, Sarah

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