A lifeline in thousands of words

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. — Janis Joplin in Me and Bobby McGee

It was my birthday, 2019, and I hadn’t had a drink in 38 days. Staring at my lifeless laptop, trapped in fear, and riddled with unrelenting anxiety, I slowly typed a title into an empty blogger story.

Hello Vulnerability

Hours later, I hit the publish button, sending a terrible piece of writing off into the world. Filled with glaring typos, grammatical atrocities, and weak adverbs, it was passable dribble. …


MENTAL HEALTH

Writing our mental health truths and making change together

To explore and expose, through writing, some of our darkest thoughts and troubling internal narratives, can be frightening. For me, conditioned through life to be fine, even fatally fine, I’ve often questioned my motives for engaging in such public unmasking.

I no longer do.

While I write many things, personal essays that explore my mental health truth, force my authentic self from the shadows of societal judgement. My writing has given voice to long-muzzled parts of me I once labeled unacceptable.

Every written step away from my self-imposed exile is personal progress. My words, small themselves, when combined with those…


How we make people feel is the color we leave behind

Crazy hair, rosy cheeks, round face, glistening eyes, and magic smile. A boyhood remembering of an aunt whose rare visits plucked me from bland reality and set me playfully in imagined worlds and make-believe adventures.

My aunt, Mildie, always made time for me. For a lonely boy, prone to fantasy others couldn’t see, this was an act of adult kindness and acceptance I needed.

A half-century later, I recall her visits with love, melancholy smiles, and profound appreciation.

Memories, imperfect recollections of specific experiences, may lose color over time, but how someone made us feel never fades.

The Landing

With 3 mid-size…


Reclaiming good memories is all in the editing

I can’t go back to change the past. It’s done.

While true, I’ve discovered there is undeniable healing in reclaiming long-forgotten positives hidden in my troubled past. Inevitable twists and turns in my recovery road continue, often beautifully, to alter my perception, providing a fresh view of my personal history.

A brighter past lays behind me.

I’m sifting through my childhood, watching the useless dirt fall away, and discovering special gems previously entombed in muddy clumps of sadness and hurt. I’m filtering. The act of shaking loose wonderful treasures from poor soil is altering my past in significant ways. …


FRIDAY FICTION

Things don’t have to be real to be happy

Julie crossed her bare legs and watched the ant emerge from between her toes, circle around her tiny ankle, and stop briefly before scurrying back into the dark green grass. Bugs didn’t bother her.

“Jules, if you’re going to sit out there, put your blanket down!”

“It’s fine, Mom.”

Her mother, hair up and wrapped in her gardening bandana, stripped off dirty gloves, wiping beads of well-earned sweat from her furrowed brow. Exasperated, she rested clenched fists on her slender hips and shook her head.

“It’s not fine. I’ve washed that dress 3 times this week already.”

Her words floated…


A symbiotic relationship I affirm each day

I am a writer.

Each morning, regardless of any perceived outside opinion, I remind myself of who I am. Long before words trickle from foggy brain to oft stiff fingers, affirming, even reaffirming my commitment to this solitary endeavor settles me in surety.

Yes, I am sure. I am a writer.

Some, unaware of important origin facts of my writing journey, might judge me too old for such firm belief. The writer in me understands that without proper context, judgements are just hollow assumptions falling short of finding another’s truth.

How we each define ourselves is all that matters.

Once…


FICTION FRIDAY

A short story of nervous romance

Nerves faded into the quiet din of silver cutlery, white plates, and soft string-quartet melodies. His left leg, its secret bouncing, finally slowed, loosened at the knee, and settled into calm. Broad shoulders, moments before tight and hunched, straightened to raise him in the plush red chair.

“This was a lovely idea,” he said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I wasn’t sure what you’d say.”

Her smile, genuine but hinting mischievous playfulness, calmed him further. Her brown eyes, glistening and dancing with the candle’s flame, disarmed him, pulling a vulnerable response from a guarded place.

He squirmed, shifting and tilting his…


I’ve fallen in love with your beautiful words

You’ve captured my heart.

You don’t see me, hear me, or sense me peering into your exposed soul. Wrapped in silk words and tied with vulnerability’s soft sash, I crave more of you. Rapt, my imagination slow dances with your words, close and dangerous, rousing parts of me long dead.

We move together, in this secret dance between us, to music of unrequited love melodies nestled between your lines. Only a lover’s eyes can hear such gentle notes.

Yes, this infatuation plays the mind’s trickster, suggesting I could join you. Such moments of exciting fantasy cause flutters of dreaming heartbeats…


But I can always make it through one more day

I’m still alcohol free today, fully engaged in a comforting morning routine developed in early sobriety, and grateful I didn’t push the big red screw it button. Recovery, for all its countless gifts, can push us beyond acceptable limits of emotional pain.

A long-forgotten app on my phone shows my last drink was 870.8 days ago. For me, having crossed the alcohol dependence Rubicon years ago, a damn miracle. Long ago, my mornings included standing behind the liquor store, pretending invisibility, and waiting for the doors to open.

5 or 6 ounces of vodka, straight from the bottle, stopped the…


My inner-child and the dreamer who waited for me

Under a make-believe tree, where infinite colors paint magical worlds, the boy survived. Quiet, creative, and prone to isolation, he mind-crafted spectacular imaginings and adventurous voyages. He dreamed improbable dreams, believed in impossible ideas, and engaged in wondrous fantasy.

Alone and ignored, he waited 50 years to be heard again.

Life deals out constant challenges, sometimes straight from the deck’s top, but it can flip unseen bottom cards with a deft slight-of-hand. We don’t always hold those tricky hands with organized skill and simple grace. …

David Sales

Canadian essayist, fiction writer, and founding editor of Found in my Journal.

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