The Sidewalk, The Hole and The Insanity

Home 9 Inspirational 9 The Sidewalk, The Hole and The Insanity


The Sidewalk, The Hole, and the Insanity

Recently I sent out an email to announce an up coming Ann Arbor Women’s Group event. The email was lopsided because the right side bar had a bunch of empty space so I decided to find a poem to fill that space. I googled “poems about addiction” and the poem There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk by Portia Nelson popped up.

“Perfect!”, I thought, “What a beautiful metaphor for addiction.” If you missed it in the email, here it is again:

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: An Autobiography in Five Short ChaptersFall In
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
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 forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
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 … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

Another Version..

It was suggested by an A2WG board member that I put the poem in a blog post. So I revisited the poem and really read it this time. I thought, if I were to write the same sort of poem, would it be that simple? Was my journey toward recovery like that? So I decided to write my own version of Portia’s poem. I’m no poet, so it’s not really a poem, in the true sense of the word, but I did my best.

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
The street is amazing!
I love the street.
I dance and laugh in the street.
Where has this street been my whole life?
There is a small hole in the sidewalk,
I fall in…but I don’t care.
Walking down the street was worth it.
I get out of the hole (with help from my family).
I can’t wait to walk down the street again.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.Obsessive
The street is still a lot of fun.
The hole in the sidewalk has gotten deeper.
I fall in again.
This time it’s harder to get out… But I still don’t care
I still love the street.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
It doesn’t feel the same. I’m not getting the same effect,
It’s not as fun.
I fall in the even deeper hole in the sidewalk.
It’s getting harder to get out

Chapter Four
I obsess about the street when I’m not walking down it.
I’m in denial about the hole,
So I walk down the street again.
The street is empty, cold and dark.
The hole is an endless black pit.
I’m filled with despair.
I can’t seem to get out of the hole this time.
I cry out for help.
The loving hand of God gentle pulls me from the hole.

Chapter Five
I obsess about the street day and night.
I attend Hole’s Anonymous.
I want to walk down the street because this time I think it will be different,
Maybe the hole won’t be there.
My hole-aholic friends guide me toward another street.

Chapter Six
I work the 12 steps of Hole’s Anonymous.
My Higher Power removes my obsession to walk down the wrong street.
My new street is paved with gold.
I am happy, joyous, and free.
I no longer want to walk down the old street.

Chapter Seven
I help other hole-aholics.
I guide them toward another street.

While I was in “the hole” I blamed others, justified, rationalized and defended my right to walk down the same street. While in the hole I was full of self-pity, terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair. I walked down that cold dark street of hell hoping every time it would be like the street of the old days, but it wasn’t. Those days were gone but I couldn’t seem to accept that. Over and over and over and over (ad infinitum)… I sought my old street. I mourned it’s loss. I walked down the same street and fell in the same hole for 20 years until my Higher Power and my friends intervened.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein

Out of OrderIn Portia’s poem she learns from her mistakes and finally has the power to get out of the hole and walk down a different street. When it comes to my alcoholism I am incapable of learning from my mistakes because I lacked wholeness of mind. If my mind were a pie, there was a slice missing where rational thoughts around alcohol were concerned. I was completely powerless to help myself. God knows I tried.

I can’t count the number of times I didn’t want to drink but I drank anyway. I know what complete and utter powerlessness feels like. If you are in recovery from addition, you know too. If you are still in the sick cycle of addiction, please know, you don’t have to live like that. Find a local *AA meeting, get involved with a group of women in recovery. You can be empowered once again.

“We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
*Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 132

What does your poem look like?
Peace, Love & Sobriety


L. chooses to remain anonymous, not because she’s ashamed of being in recovery, but because her ego loves recognition and she doesn’t want to feed her ego.


*A2WG is not affiliated with AA or any other organization

Thank You For Your Support This November!


Your donation helps us continue to support Recovering Women in Washtenaw County by providing fun and educational events, our yearly Women's Recovery Retreat, and free childcare at two recovery meetings every week.

Receive Event Information

Free Child Care

The Ann Arbor Women’s Group’s free child care program fulfills a crucial need for parents in recovery. Since December 2010 A2WG has provided safe, free child care while parents attend their 12 step meetings.

Learn More