This is a photo I did 6 years ago of Hubs, in the guest room at our old house.

It’s called The Abduction.


6 years later, I’m looking at this photo and actually seeing it for the first time. It’s not obscured through wine-coloured glasses: it’s about becoming an observer in our own lives.

Or, maybe it’s about escaping reality.

It’s so easy, albeit uncomfortable, to stay harboured within ourselves.

We spend our days quarantined in our bodies, safe from being vulnerable, as though we’re tiny Librarians filing away our shame, our guilt, our regret, and our fear like dusty, dog-eared books – and our mind is the dark, dimly lit library itself.

Full of stories we are too afraid to read or tell.

Alcohol put me there.

Lost in the stacks, the library hours would just extend longer day by day and year by year until eventually I simply lived there, re-reading the same old stories. Eventually, Fiction became Truth, and the History section became Current Events.

Stuck in this loop within myself, I felt safe, but not secure.

Each time I’d pull “The Horrible Book of My Deepest Regrets” from the shelf, it would get heavier, as though the pages would double every time I closed the cover.

Every page, typed in red wine.

I admit, it was my favourite bedtime story. It was dark and twisted, and every time I’d read a new chapter the story’s ending would change itself.

But it was never a happy ending.

The longer I stayed there, re-reading the same old stories, the more tragic the tale’s ending became. I had become nothing more than an awkward character, poorly written into an otherwise interesting story.

I’d become collateral damage, as though I was just innocently passing by when the Giant landed flat on me, falling from Jack’s Bean Stalk.

I was no longer the main character – the hero. I was just another page in a warehouse of similar, sad books. And the villain always won.

It took me a really, really long time to realize I wasn’t okay with that.

That I was bored and tired of re-reading the same stories that all had the same ending – and tired of becoming a smaller and less significant character in my own biography. I wanted to read a Drama or an Adventure novel, even a Comedy would do.

I was tired of re-reading the same old Tragedy: Boy drinks wine, then the wine drinks him.

I was ready to become the author again, intent on writing a happier ending where the villain no longer wins.

This time I’d dodge the Giant before he lands on me.

And so I forced myself to go outside.

Outside of myself, outside of my comfort zone, far from the stacks of sad stories that had kept me trapped and enthralled for years. And what I found outside the tall walls of the Library was a world of raw, beautiful vulnerability.

I’m gonna leave my body (Moving up to higher ground)
I’m gonna lose my mind (History keeps pulling me down)
– Leave My Body, Florence + The Machine

What I believe comes down to is this:

By closing the cover on the story I’ve been telling myself, I have the power to reimagine and recreate the ending. Every moment of every day, I have this opportunity.

By being vulnerable and owning my shame, I can erase it.

By being mindful of my self-talk, I can begin to learn a new way of speaking to myself.

In no longer re-reading “The Horrible Book of My Deepest Regrets” every day, I can pick up a much more empowering Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, where for a change, I’m in charge.

But I can’t do any of these things so long as I’m locked in the library, alone with my fairytales and nightmares, trapped in my history while all I was trying to do was escape.

There comes a point where you grow tired of being abducted every day.

And that’s what drinking did for me. Or against me.

It abducted me and threw me straight into the spine of the darkest storybook imaginable.

My self-worth was stolen by bottles and shame, and I transported myself back to the library over and over again, drink by drink, just to re-read my saddest and scariest memoirs. Not once did I learn anything from them, other than realizing how tired I was of that same old story.

I think it’s time to tear up my library card.

Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


  1. You wrote: “My self-worth was stolen by bottles and shame…”

    You will come to find it is much worse than that. Alcohol is an inanimate object. It can’t steal anything from you. You gave your self-worth up freely for that bottle.

    You can look at that truth one of two ways. Either I’m a pompas ass for pointing it out, OR it’s an even better reason to stay sober. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. bgddyjim, I used to think that way as well, but not so much anymore. I guess I don’t believe really in inanimate objects, but that everything carries an energy force. The energy around alcohol is absolutely powerful and when other things are aligned, can absolutely be a thief. I get your perspective entirely though.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. bgddyjim – I don’t agree that I gave up myself freely. Not at all. If addiction were a conscious choice no one would become addicted. I felt as though I had slept walked into my addiction. That is sort of the nature of the beast isn’t it.?..the addictive substance lures you in and everyone thinks they are clever enough to beat it or that it won’t happen to them. No one drinks their first drink knowing they will become an alcoholic.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is beautiful. Such a powerful metaphor for why and how we stay stuck in addiction and the secret to getting out. I hope your next books are full of happy adventures.


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