An Italian college student, who lives in Rome, wrote to me. She is the sister of an addict: I want to share with you a poem I love. I’ve read it many times and each time I hope my brother, too, will arrive at the “Fifth Chapter.”
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, by Portia Nelson
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.
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.
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.
IV: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
V: I walk down another street.
My thoughts: We are responsible for making the choice to get ourselves out of the hole of addiction or despair. No one can make this decision for us. It is a singular and personal choice.
Today’s Promise to consider: Today I will fortify myself by joining hands with others. I will break the bonds of isolation and fear that feed addiction. I’ll reach out my hand, pray and continue to believe. I will walk down another street.