The Bluebird’s Cage: Addiction

Addiction is a malady that is impossible to understand unless you are afflicted by it. The lucky ones who have been spared look down upon addicts as morally corrupt, lacking in willpower, or simply as weak people. In fact it is due to this perception that I am easily able to relate to other oppressed people throughout history – homosexuals, women, blacks, etc.

Even amongst addicts, there are different breeds – the professionally successful addict, who uses to maintain their breakneck pace; the homeless alcoholic who begs for a dollar to quench his thirst for another hour; the mother who struggles with pain, and loses the ability to appropriately medicate herself. All of these scenarios add to the misunderstanding.

A clean-cut way of looking at addiction: continuing a mood-altering activity or substance despite the presence of negative consequences.

Short, sweet, and to the point.

Those who read my blog know I don’t tend to be long on words. I like to capture a concept as concisely as possible. I wasn’t even planning on writing today, but this poem came to my mind. I’ve shared it with a few people recently, and thought it was appropriate to do so here as well.

Many addicts look at their affliction as a demon, something they must battle for life. I tend to take a different view.

I have viewed that there was a soft, caring, beautiful side of my soul that I was unable to free due to paralyzing fear. The only way I knew to access this part of myself was through the help of substances.

Recovery has broken those chains, removed that cage.

Enjoy the following poem:

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

– “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski


7 comments on “The Bluebird’s Cage: Addiction

  1. Thanks for this, Troy. And thanks for the Charles Bukowski — that meant something to me.

  2. Very insightful, moving post and riveting poem. I can most certainly relate to that fear…thank you for sharing this.

    I love the mantra, “May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.” It opens my heart wider and helps me feel more compassion whether I’m afraid or not, and, it silences the cruel voices of judgment I grew up with. It’s a much more beautiful and freeing place to live! .


  3. wasn’t aware that you have known addiction from the inside out – wanted to say that I found these words inspiring, and even haunting, in that they speak so clearly of not only addiction, but freedom from addiction … thanks for sharing

  4. A great piece of poetry. Speaks volumes of mankind.

    Addiction is seriously misunderstood, I haven’t been there myself, but I do comprehend some of the complexities that are associated with it, but from a different perspective

    Troy, your posts are always inspiring & I really enjoy how you manage to invoke a deeper questioning within ones self.

    I have also nominated you for the ABC award, maybe we will find out a little more about you. http://abumptothehead.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/learning-my-abcs/

  5. In my experience, most (not all) of us addicts, including alcoholics, are indeed “morally corrupt, lacking in willpower, or simply weak people” as part of the overall equation of why we manifested our condition. It isn’t, however, JUST these characteristics that make us addicts.

    Nobody I have met yet knows what all makes up the equation of an addict. I know that when I injest drugs or alcohol, I am beyond the power of my will to stop. It does not mean I have no will power in other areas. Life has proven that I do.

  6. What a wonderful post. Addiction is so different and so unique that it is hard to understand. and in my opinion, medicine is the worst at understanding it. thanks for the poetry and the insight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: