Prose From the Soul: Pieces of Recovery

They say this is “recovery month.”
So, I’ll understand if you turn away at this point. I’ll even understand if you don’t want to read anymore or if you’d skip a few of my journals; but then again, the reason why I come here is because this is the place where I can be heard – even if only by you, at least I know that someone is listening. If anyone is listening, I’d rather it be you.
They said yesterday was Overdose Awareness Day. And I’m aware. I’ve been aware for a very long time because to me, this is not something new. In all honesty, I shake my head when people act like addiction is new. This isn’t new. None of this is.

What I have for you today is a few pieces of my soul; hence the term Prose From the Soul; yet, this is only a piece of me. I am more than this. I am more than a person in recovery. I have countless other successes that go beyond the typical “one day at a time” approach. But still, I do remember where I came from and, yes, I remember what my purpose is and the direction I am choosing to take.

So, here are some pieces of my recovery. But before I go forward, I’d like to share something that I’ve never said to anyone, which is thanks. But more than a simple thanks, I am thanking you for accepting me for being me
exactly as I am –


This is about you and for you. This is about you and for you
and about the times you were counted out
or told that you never had a shot.

This is about the way you lived and what you lived through
and yet,
this is about the way you picked yourself up after falling down –
each and every time.

This is about the way you inspire people
because with all of your faults
and with all that you’ve done and all of your past,
you never pretended to be anybody else.

You were the last to know
about the talents in your pocket.
You were the last to know
that you had the ability to make a room stand up.
You have the talent to make people think and feel.
And that’s real.
This is you. You’ve done this
I know because I’ve seen it

(So, please don’t look away)

This is about the way you were
and the way you are now.
This is also about the times people pointed and sneered and said,
at best, you’d be dead or found in a ditch somewhere.
Either that, or you’d be sweating it out through an intolerable cure,
everything inside you was stretched too tightly,
and the sickness, the pain in your legs, the back,
and all that went in to keeping you up
so that you’d never felt this down –
throwing up on yourself, or standing on the dangle,
spiraling down,
slowly sinking into a soft nod

which was lofty and yet, from the outside –
this is all people saw:
your absence of stolen charisma,
your spirit that diminished into spiritless
your lazy speech that dragged on,
and your life that was sinking into the quick sands of a habit –
which by the way, this is a habit that people know
all too well yet, people point, they judge,
or they’ll tell you about how you’ll never make it –

But you did.
You made it far beyond your belief
Please, never forget that.


Someone told me they only have fifteen days back.
They went out on a bender and now,
they had to come back into a room
and tell people how they’re back to counting days

Them: I only have fifteen days
Me: That’s a lot because there was a time
when you couldn’t go fifteen seconds let alone 15 minutes
or fifteen days.

Be your own best friend before you become your worst enemy
it makes the process easier.

Trust me on this
“Benny, is that one of the scars you told me about?”
It is
“So, why show me”
Who else am I going to show?
Id’ rather you see this.
I’d rather you see all of this
and know that you’re not alone.


I suppose I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Then again, no one knows what to expect
at least, not the first time. 

I had been clean and sober for decades
But more, I had been feeding a lifestyle
that helped me grow into something
which no one ever expected – including me.

Someone mentioned that I talked too much.
They told me to either put up or shut up.
They said it’s great to talk about how things should work
or have an opinion.
“Everyone has an opinion,” they said.
“And that’s the last thing the world needs right now,
someone with another opinion.”

They said:
Either do something about it, or shut up.
That’s what I was told to do

So, I did.
I chose to do something about it


You never do what they trained you to do.
At least not in this type of environment.
I was trained on what to say and how to act.

I was told what to say to the family or to those
who might be in the waiting room
because their person; whether it was a son or daughter
or mother, father, sister, brother,
or whether this was anyone otherwise
who was lying in a hospital bed after an overdose. 

You don’t know what you’re going to say
until you say it; moreover,
you don’t know what you’re going to see
until you see it –

Whether they were similar in culture or race or color
or whether they were different
or if this was a repeat of the day before
or whether this person nearly died,
or if they realized that they nearly died
or whether this person was like you or like one of your friends,
or whether this person was real or not –
you never know what it’s like
until you walk through the doorway in the emergency room
and see this person in a bed.

What did I see?
I saw a person
each and every time

I didn’t see a disease or an addict or least of all,
I never saw a junkie or someone homeless.
I never saw the drug of choice
or the “accidental” overdose
nor did I see anything other than their eyes. 

And it’s true.
It’s true that the best way to treat a person
is as if they’re a person. 
I never walked in, holier than thou.
I never said anything from the scripts
or the role-play training, which was a waste of time
when you’re in the pocket; when you’re live and on stage
Instead, I decided to let me be me
and them be them
No judgment. No accusation.
And no shit either
because there were times
when a person has to stand their ground –
namely me . . .

The most common thing I heard:
I didn’t overdose
To which I’d answer
Well, they brought you back with some Narcan.
“No . . . “
Then I’d say “What’d you think you came here for the food and friends?”

Out of all my deployments, I only had two refusals.
Is this because I was a better specialist?
No, the others were better than me.
No, my results were because I was a real person
and I treated others like a real people.

In fact, my favorite person in the world taught me:
you can see when someone is full of shit.
You can tell when someone is on –

so, don’t be that way. 

I need to listen to this more.


Sure, I have friends from back in the day.
Some are people that I keep in touch with
and some are people who I still love with all of my heart-
it’s just that I have to love them from a distance

I have friends who are in programs,
who are medically assisted,
who are still in the trenches,
still at war, still drinking, still sick and still suffering.

I have high friends in low places
and low friends in high places
and friends of all kinds.
And yes, I can say that this is me;
still me, still recovering: one day at a time.

Do I judge?

I heard the last person who walked on water,
he died a long time ago – and to be honest,
they didn’t treat him so well either. 

I don’t know what life looks like
through anyone else’s eyes but mine.
I might relate. I might feel similarly.
I might be the same or I might be different.

All I know is that I am here –
the person who I am
is not the person who I was predicted to be.

But I am me. 



Did someone say necessity is the mother of invention?
Yes, I believe I heard you say this.
I can tell you that brilliance
is born as soon as need takes hold.

As soon as you find yourself “without”
and you need something,
you’ll find it within you
to do whatever it takes to eat, breathe, drink and feel. 
Just remember . . .

Sometimes the bottom falls deeper for others.
Sometimes, the feeling of being lost, alone (or afraid)
is more to others than to us (or you).

Sometimes, someone does something for you,
which is so loving and so uplifting
and in that moment, a piece of us weeps
because maybe we didn’t know
that anyone could love us this much –
or understand that we deserve it

By the way, this is more real than you think


With regret, I just heard the news
and before emotion takes over,
I figured I would write to you now
since it’s been so long since we spoke.

There are a few things I would like to mention
first, in the wake of your departure
I’d like you to know that you leave behind
those who love you and know you well.
And we still love you.
We are here, all of us,
gathered together and thinking of you,
a young man, brilliant beyond his own understanding,
and unaware of his own true beauty.

It is a new day for us now.
The sun is rising above our small town
and I am literally a lifetime away from wherever you are.

It is August at its end.
Soon enough the weather will cool,
the mercury will drop,
and the sun will fall earlier than now.

Eventually, time will add
and days will become more distant from this day.
But you . . . you are timeless, my friend,
and the eyes you look through
are the eyes that see clearer
than anything we could possibly imagine.

Perhaps, now you see the truth.
Maybe now you understand the truth of your spirit,
which always was and will be beautiful.

The infamy of our previous life is still unbelievable at times
(I know) but that too was another lifetime ago.
Sometimes . . . .
we tend to forget the past will do absolutely fine without us.
And now, unfortunately, your worn soldiers
were deployed too many times
to fight battles you could never win.

It is said that we all have a purpose in life
and the only wasteful thing
is not to live up to it.

I can’t say I know how this works.
I can’t say that I know much
and I can’t say I knew you well, longer,
or better than anyone else.

But I can say that I knew you.
And that’s enough for me.

I can say we shared a mutual respect
and a mutual understanding of each other.
And now somewhere,
somewhere far away or maybe someplace closer than I can imagine,
you’re there on the other side of life
and I’m here wishing we could have spoke
just one last time.
I wished we could have talked
before you took rig in hand
and pushed the needle in.

I once said if you need me, just call.
Call anytime at all. I wouldn’t have minded.

I told you kid,
you don’t have anyone in your corner
who will cheer for you louder than me.
Maybe I shouldn’t say this anymore, but I said this to you
and I meant it.

I just wish I had the chance to cheer for you one more time.
This way, maybe,
you would know there was a lot more
than just my prayers on your side.

Dear God,

He was just a kid . . .

Man, that Fentanyl, —it’s a real game changer.

See ya around, kid.

And remember, wherever you are now,
if you need me, just call.

I promise I’ll find a way to answer.


This is me: Hello, my name is Ben Kimmel and I am a person in long-term recovery
This is my date: 04/01/1991
This is my life yet I am more than this.

I am more than a so-called addict or alcoholic
I am a presenter, a speaker,
a person who works three (or sometimes four) jobs,
as well as an ordained minister,
a mentor, a learner, a humble traveler
on this great conveyor belt which I choose to call Project Earth.

I am a writer (even if I do say so myself) and a poet,
a specialist, a professional,
a healthcare worker, an advocate,
I am someone who influences my surroundings
and I do this with more than the rhetoric about drugs or alcohol.

I am a survivor of suicide (more than once)
I am a friend, a loved one, a lover (not a fighter)
and as small as I am,
I have dared to take on this big fight we call life on life’s terms;
and humbly, I believe that if I can do this –
anyone can do this too

Then again, the key word in that last sentence is believe –
and that’s what has to change first
our beliefs

(believe me)

2 thoughts on “Prose From the Soul: Pieces of Recovery

  1. oh man that was something else. I lost my girlfriend to fentanyl about 6 months ago, and I’ve woken up in the back of ambulances, and hospital rooms, and all kinds of places I didn’t know how I got there. one of these times I’m not going to wake up anywhere and that’s what I read and felt in this poem

  2. Pingback: Prose From the Soul: Pieces of Recovery — The Written Addiction – American.Addiction.lle

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