I have a piece of glass stuck in my foot, and it’s been there for days.

I can’t see it, but I can feel it.

Whenever I take a step, I swear it just buries itself deeper, carving out new ways to make itself known. It’s amazing how the tiniest sliver of glass can feel bigger than the object it came from.

Just a tiny little painful piece of something larger, left behind.

The fallen plate. The shattered glass of wine. The glass ceiling that came crashing down when you broke free.

Leftover shards of something once whole, always there to remind you to watch your step.

I’m pretty sure that no matter how long I survive thrive without alcohol there will always be those little pieces left behind, dug deep under my skin as a reminder of where I came from. I guess that’s what addiction is: something buried deep inside you that needs a lot of work and pain to deal with and try to remove.

As best as you can, anyhow.

Addiction, trauma, disappointment, anxiety, false-hopes and betrayal – they all shatter and break you into so many slivers it’s impossible to completely pick up all the pieces.

The bits left behind from when you were broken aren’t always as obvious as the glass in your foot. They get stirred up when a feeling, or memory, or craving pushes against them. The pain swells up to sharply remind you that it’s still there, and probably always will be.

Forever lodged in your history as proof of your wounds.

A sliver of the old you, the old hurt, and all the old reasons excuses for why you did what you did, and why you were the way you were.

Evidence of all those wasted years, trapped inside the unbroken bottle that just kept on breaking you.

Time has a way of leaving small secret scars for us to look back on.

Not to dwell upon, but to keep us humble. 

Our histories are as varied as the reasons we drink drank to excess. Sometimes it was because it looked like we had no other choice than to walk across a floor full of broken glass, towards the only door we could see.

I did the best I knew how, with what I knew then.
Now that I know better, I will do better.

Maybe the leftover hurts we all carry with us are there to remind us how quickly things can break down again. All the good things – the important, irreplaceable things – are as delicate as glass and can slip through our fingers with one wrong step.

Or one wrong choice.


Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.
― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

If there’s someone who doesn’t need a reminder that the past is real, it’s an alcoholic. Oh boy, do we ever know. And when we manage to finally break through the glass ceiling we trapped ourselves beneath, moving forward with the freedom of wild horses, we want to ride as fast and far away from that past as we can.

I’ve been on an intoxicating sober high the last 26 days, just now able to see the first of what will hopefully be many finish lines.

30 days, soon. 1 month alcohol free.

And my scars have barely screamed.

But I know that they’re still there, as proof that I’m healing.

Proof that so far, I’ve survived.

Scars are not injuries. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.
― China Miéville, The Scar

Written by SJ VanDee

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


  1. It’s so pleasing that you’re going well. Hold on to that reminder as long as it is helpful.
    I have found a Refuge Recovery meeting only an hour from my home, so next Thursday I’m going there. Any tips of the specific language or etiquette in an RR meeting?
    love alwaz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Mike, thanks! And that’s awesome you found a local(ish) RR group! 🙂 My experience, everyone who attends regularly is pretty chill. Hard to offend anyone at an RR meeting! Like most recovery groups, the focus is usually on connection and service, mindfulness and awareness. I think you’ve already got all those character traits in place 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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