I Release Thee Well


I like clean.  I like a clean house.  I like having an IKEA-type clean house where everything is perfectly aligned and put in it’s proper place.  I like boxes and totes and pull-out drawers that are micro-divided.  I like the idea of having a place to organize paperclips by colour – alphabetically.  This, of course, is but a dream.  I have two kids, so I am just happy to see the actual floor now and then. But having said all that, for some reason I was a keeper of things.  Not in a”Hoarders” kind of way – far from it.  There were some things that just traveled with me from place to place in torn cardboard boxes and cracked, sun-bleached binders.   Things that were important to me…things of value.

Occasionally, I  would finger through those well-worn trinkets, the faded and roughed up keepsakes, reliving past things through eyes of old,  imbuing these items with deeper worth than what they were entitled to have.  I followed the script of sorting through the rubble of the past and making connections with them.  I re-felt my life through these dusty objects.  I cherished them…and then put them back in the corner, to be dug through again later.

About six or seven months into my recovery, I was cleaning house, again.  I was once again rummaging through my little treasures.  But I came to them not with eyes of old, in soft-focus, but with eyes of clarity.  As I put things into my hands, I felt the urge to not sanctify these objects, but to purge them.  Out went the stuff from high school.  Out went the old CD’s and mix tapes – songs that marked different painful landmarks in my life.  Out went old folders and scraps of papers with inspirational writings.  Out went certificates, awards, letters of recognition and articles of glory.  Out went pictures.  Out went  mountains of things that I used to see as vital to my existence, but were now just waste.  I just didn’t need these things any more.   I felt relieved to have a tidier, neater and more open house.

It wasn’t until a little time later that I saw how I started to do these things in my own inner life.  When I wrote my 4th step inventory, I had listed and seen all the resentments, fears and harms that I had accumulated over my lifetime.  I took a good hard look at the trinkets and keepsakes that I kept inside and alive within myself.  I saw all those things that I kept from my high school days – the hate I hung on to for being bullied for doing well in school, the isolation, the first suicidal thoughts I had, the way I felt so vulnerable.  I saw the things I held onto from a child – the bewilderment of being alone, the pain of not having friends, the feeling of being unprotected and unsafe.  I saw the things that I held onto from my young adulthood – the fear or being myself, the fear of being rejected, the guilt from drinking, the pain of being broken up with over and over again.  And it continued.

I saw that I had been doing to those things within myself what I had done with all those ancient objects I kept  in my basement – I had been pulling them out, rehashing and reliving the pains and problems of the past.    And instead of stuffing them in a box, I was stuffing them down deep into my body, my mind, my spirit.  The very core of me was overflowing with things that simply did not serve me.  No wonder I suffered.  No wonder I couldn’t breath.  No wonder my life was unmanageable.

No wonder I drank.

I had to face what spiritual garbage was in me, what was decaying and eating away at my soul, what was chewing me up from the inside out.  I had to rid myself of the very things I saw as vital but were in fact toxic to me.  My old ideas, my old ways of thinking, my old prejudices, my old habits, my old hurts and resentments…all these things that I thought were me, but were in fact the me I had created a long time ago just to survive, just to get through the day.   I had been my biggest enemy, and there I was manufacturing the very bullets that I used to shoot myself with.  I needed to clean house.


I looked at dishonesty and said: “You came to protect me, to protect the lies, to protect the predators and vultures of my mind, but you hurt the ones I loved and came to bring me down, word by word, deed by deed.

I release thee now, I release thee free, I release thee well.”

I stared at anger and said: “You were a shield in my life, to stave off the blows and barbs. You came to slay others before they could even come close to me.  But the  attacker was truly from within and you almost destroyed my heart.

I release thee now, I release thee free, I release thee well.”

I gazed upon pride and said: “You asked that I care what others thought, you asked that I act the chameleon, you asked that I play against the very fabric of who I was.

I release thee now, I release thee free, I release thee well.”

I regarded ego and said: “A stronger foe I had never met, you kept the bottle in my hand, you brow-beat me to ash, you flayed at the boy who wanted to be loved and broke my spirit just to prove right.

I release thee now, I release thee free, I release thee well.”

I looked at my hands, clenched in prayer, and asked God to relieve me of the bondage of self, so I may better do His will.  I closed my eyes, and I swore that I heard a small whisper, a small voice saying:

“I release thee now, I release thee free, I release thee well.”

25 Comments Add yours

  1. Number 9 says:

    I love this! I did the same thing with my stuff and it was so freeing. I release thee now. And I love how you tied it into releasing your character defects. I’m still in Four. Why why why don’t I just DO it. tomorrow….

    1. Ha ha…the dreaded yet uplifting 4th step inventory…helped me to identify what I needed to release and give up to God. But we certainly can do this any time – we were able to surrender to our alcoholism with Him as our principle, us being His agents. But thank you, R, for your comment…I am honoured to have you here 🙂


  2. This was beautiful. ‘Nuff said. If you don’t mind me asking, how many months/years of freedom do you have? You just sound so together and with it which of course I am aiming for!!!

    1. That’s very kind – thank you. I have 22 months. I am certainly not as together as I may sound…lol. Just a drunk doing what he needs to do to stay the course and help others. 🙂

  3. sherryd32148 says:

    What a beautiful post. I’m watching your fabulous writing progress on the same, introspective path as my own did. It’s so cathartic to pour these feelings onto the page…and you do it in such an amazing way.

    Thank you so much for this blog. You are helping so many.

    1. Hi Sherry – you’re so very right – it’s cathartic… and it’s wonderful to connect with such fabulous bloggers (and more important, actual real people) like yourself who continue to inspire and push us all along. We are here for the same reason – healing, and it’s so much easier when we do this together. Thank you for being a part of this grand thing that we all do for each other.


  4. Beautifully expressed. I have a box or two, myself. Maybe a journal bonfire is in order.

    1. A journal bonfire – what a grand idea. We can roast symbolic marshmallows over it…or real ones for that fact! Thanks for your kind words, UB…love hearing from you 🙂

  5. good2begone says:

    The longer we hold on to the resentments of the past, the more power they hold over our thoughts and emotions. Taking an honest and open look at them, through the inventory allows us to break the power chain and free us from the bond it holds over us. Freedom awaits. Great post!

    1. Thanks G2BG…perfectly stated there. I couldn’t imagine ever breaking that chain, as you mentioned…wow. I certainly couldn’t do it alone. It’s men like you who I learned all this from in the rooms…who learned from others, who learned and worked with others. Countless have been able to do this, and for that, I feel blessed to be a part of this. Thank *you* for being here and adding your insight to this. Freedom, indeed. 🙂


  6. Mrs D says:

    Aaahh this is lovely. Well written. Well said. Thanks xxx

    1. Thanks Mrs D! It’s always a treat having you stop by this little corner shop… 🙂

  7. Paul you’ve reached into my soul and written my experience in such a beautiful way. It wasn’t until I stood toe to toe with my baggage that my journey truly began….it was the beginning and is my today.
    I’m so glad I’ve found your writing

    1. Hi Julie and welcome…so thrilled you visited…I have seen your blog and it’s fantastic (and always nice to see another Ontario resident around!) The image of standing toe to toe with your baggage is quite evocative…coolio 🙂 I look forward to reading more from you. I always seem to be unearthing more and more wonderful writing out there…and I am glad I found you too.

  8. Paul, I have to tell you, your posts have always hit home exactly when I need them the most. You posted this Saturday, for some reason I did not see it until today, and I have been struggling with release all morning long. I have a God moment each time I open your blog, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have found you!

    1. Wow – that’s just amazing how we seem to hear or read something the exact time we need to see or hear or read it. That happens to me all the time. I am glad that God is working through others for you! I too am grateful to have met and run into you as well – I feel that I am getting to know you and others through their work…what a wonderful thing this is. Truly it is 🙂 Thank you for your comments.


  9. Lisa Neumann says:

    The un-tethered freedom at the other side of release. It wasn’t so much that He hadn’t help me let go. It was more a matter of me not wanting to let go. Paul, You are a gifted communicator. Thank you.

    1. Lisa – fantastic. Again, you can condense everything to it’s core with such few words… I can learn from that (as you have noticed, I “talk” a lot). The idea of not wanting to let go is very true – always thought that there was one more kick at the can, that I could do it *myself* that I didn’t need anything or anyone to help. I could be a *man* and do this. So utterly wrong. Thank you for your wise words there and for your kind words as well.


  10. sobergirl1 says:

    Your writing is beautiful. Simply beautiful. It’s amazing how we speak a common language once we get sober.

    1. Thanks soberG1…that’s so very kind. You’re absolutely right about speaking a common language. We don’t have to say much for us to just *get* it, yes? And that is why I love talking to, reading, listening to and working with other alcoholics, because we get it, and don’t have to go into long things because we’ve been there. Thank you so much for being here…catch you on your great blog! 🙂

  11. runningonsober says:

    Beautiful, simply beautiful. I am an emotional pack rat, it’s hard to let go of some things, but I know you speak the truth. I still have some high school mixed tapes. ((Blush))

    1. Emotional pack rat – love it – gonna steal that one 🙂 But yeah, letting go of things still can be difficult for me. I don’t think it will ever truly end. And that’s ok…that part of the journey, right? High school mix tapes? Do they still make cassette players??? ha ha

      Thanks for your comments – so very kind, as usual 🙂


      1. runningonsober says:

        I don’t think they do! But I’m waiting for them to come back in style like vinyl and turntables did.

        Remember having to use a pencil to twist those stupid little tape heads? Haha.

        Mixed tapes were such a labor of love. So easy to click and drag and make electronic playlists now. You really had to plan to make a tape.

        1. Oh yes…twisting the tapes with pencils…oh man!! THAT is funny…totally forgot about that. When you break up with someone now, you just hand them a cheap mp3 with songs already preloaded…yikes. 🙂

  12. Al K Hall says:

    i love your 4th Step prayers! Beautiful, poetic and efficient. And i don’t need to do a 4th step to say it. Thanks for the insight, brother.

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