two friends joking around

Letting the Darkness Out 

Recovery at nearly every level is about some sort of letting go, of purging unnecessary baggage and the fetters of addiction. To steal a quote by the poet Robert Penn Warren: “…This / Is the process whereby pain of the past in its pastness / May be converted into the future tense

 / Of joy1.” 

Of course, that’s easier said than done for many of us. No matter where you are on your recovery journey, there will be times when we recollect (or worse, have recollected for us) a shameful event along the way. We’ve all had feelings of shame around our addictions and the situations they put us in. And it’s important to keep a personal inventory as your recovery needs dictate and turn toward the reality of our consequences. 

But at some point, guilt turns into shame and more desire to hide. This is when you know you’ve gone too far with self-flagellation. Why not make it serve you with the goal of understanding yourself just a bit better?  

Personal memoir journaling can help chart how far we’ve come and previously unknown patterns of shameful feelings or regret. This can be just for you, or it could grow to become a best-selling memoir. The point is, you are expressing yourself in the moment, in person—the rawest place we can be. The time is ripe to document your journey in plenty of ways, even if you’ve never journaled before. Let these tips help guide you on your way:

1) Write 20 minutes every day.

Habit is the constant companion of creativity. Whether your 20 minutes is spent writing dialogue from the dream you had the night before, venting at the recovery process, or just making a list of places you’d like to visit this fall, make it a habit to write first thing in the morning for a while to get the habit to stick. Then you’re off to the races.

2) Don’t worry about getting everything correct right now.

Personal memoir journaling is just for you (unless you have some biopic movie deal we don’t know about). So when you get in the zone for your time to write, really let go of the inner critic. Even go so far as to not read what you’ve written until your journal is full.

3) Help is all around you


There are some great resources available to you to get you started 

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron


Write a new story for yourself at Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California. We are a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138


1) Excerpt from “I Am Dreaming of a White Christmas: The Natural History of a Vision (1974)” by Robert Penn Warren)

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