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At Any Time, You Can Change Your Path

I heard this poem for the first time when I spent a week drying-out at the local detox center. A little old man with a deep but soft voice, who was the counselor, read it to us one morning. I don’t know why it got stuck in my head that morning, because it was still several years before I got sober, but that was the first time I realized that I can take a different path in life.

From the book: There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk by Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter V
I walk down another street.

I love this little poem. I fell into that hole many, many times before I realized that I could just walk down a different street. Instead, I was constantly searching for a way to not fall in the hole. That was my drinking cycle; I desperately wanted to drink without getting totally obliterated, or losing everything, but without actually stopping drinking. I also did not see that I was the problem; I blamed the world for my drinking! – Notice the changed from It isn’t my fault. to It is my fault. in the poem. – The realization that it actually was my fault, and that I was the cause, and that I needed to stop drinking, was a definite the turning point for me. Sure, that was tough and really hard to take on, but by placing it on me I was also able to recognize that I could also change it! I finally understood that I didn’t have to always figure things out or contemplate all the reasons why and how. I didn’t have to battle everything and everyone and I didn’t have to find all the solutions to all the problems.All I had to do is stay open-minded enough to see when I just need to walk down a different street.

How do you relate to this poem?

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