First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 10 – Battlefield 4

I needed to be aware too that battles won against a particular enemy do not remove that enemy from the battlefield. However I had the knowledge, in the memory of the battle won, that I had the resource to continue winning it.

In the beginning my former mistress occupied a position on my right shoulder from where she could chirrup in my ear – sometimes vindictively, sometimes seductively, sometimes threateningly. It was necessary to put in the hard work to protect myself.

It is unclear to me whether she is a mastermind – coordinating attacks and sending particular enemies to attack at particular points in time or, whether each enemy represents a separate entity.

Although I favour the view that she is the ultimate enemy, using others to suit her purpose. What is more important is to remain awake, aware of the potential for attack.

Attacks come in many forms and are often unexpected – rarely are they full frontal onslaughts because those can be seen coming and be prepared for. When I stand on the shore on the west coast of Ireland looking out over the Atlantic, the horizon is so vast that rain storms can be seen gathering and approaching from a long way off. And although those attacks may be feared, the safe places of the stepping stones can be sought in advance and will provide shelter.

More often that foresight is not available to us: attacks arise out of the blue, or in combinations which catch us by surprise. And often we feel that we have been ambushed, hit by the sudden shower from an apparently cloudless sky.

Nonetheless, the stepping stones are set in open spaces and high places where the view of the horizon is unencumbered.

Be aware, too, that the passing of time does not diminish the potential for these attacks.

When in thrall to my previous mistress my horizon had become narrower and narrower, it had become restricted to things I could achieve whilst within her grip. It had become a frantic battle to keep things the same in a world which is constantly changing, and the insanity was in believing I could do that. Thus I was drawn further and further into an imaginary place; the imagined had become real and the real had become imaginary.

From time to time she will send me an enemy who tries again to draw me into that restricted place. An enemy who persuades me that demons are gathering round and that I need to withdraw, yet in the process of withdrawal I feel curtains closing, shutting out the light and doors closing behind me – doors which have no handle on my side. The delusion she sells me is that by closing down, shutting out, making the space narrower I become secure.

It is just that, a delusion, and if I believe it malaise will set in. I need to counteract the inertia, reach out, shine the torch, make contact with the beautiful fairy and get back to the stepping stones, for the demons will vanish in the light.

The enemy is a constant too, often waiting for a weakening which may be the product of a different attack.

Perhaps the sort of subtle attack which creates illusions of warm pools – pools in which I can relax, luxuriate, float on the surface or sink up to my armpits. Pools in which gentle bubbles rise stroking me and comforting me, and as they burst they feed me with subtle words – it’s not my fault, it’s all their fault, it’s not fair, why me. But if I stay in the pool too long I am overcome with lethargy; my skin starts to wrinkle and eventually I will sink beneath the surface.

An attack by a seductress who would sell me the benefits of the moral high ground – a plateau where the sun always shines and life is deck chairs and ease and soft drinks and warm glows. But I am human and therefore fallible and I would soon fall off my self-constructed, self-polished shining pedestal.

A different attack by a demon with glowing eyes and boundless energy who would claim to be my friend. He persuades me towards dark red buildings with a constant glow from the windows and inside a fire which is never extinguished. A fire which, as I hold out my hands to it, heats the very core of my being. A fire which I too can feed, and the more I feed it the more intense the heat – a heat which seems to emanate from inside me. And whilst justified anger will mean never feeling cold again, the end result would be self combustion.

Audio version available at


17 Responses to “First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 10 – Battlefield 4”

  1. christine Says:

    David, this excites me. It seems so relavent for me at this present time.
    I will reply in detail tomorrow; as you are aware I have a busy day ahead.

    Lots of love


    xxx (and a hug)

    • belfastdavid Says:

      I look forward to your comment Christine.

      Hug very gratefully received πŸ™‚

      Lots of love


  2. i found this to be very direct and very moving. Thinking about the content, it seems to me David that this is the voice of an experienced and accomplished general with a good view of the whole complex battlefield, someone who knows he’s going to win the war even if not every skirmish. Thinking about the form, I’m fascinated by the way this occupies that indistinct ground where poetry and prose intermingle. Most interesting and encouraging!

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you John,

      Part of the key I think is recognising that despite winning the war skirmishes will continue. We need to recognise which ones to fight and which ones to walk away from gracefully.

      As regards the intermingling of prose and poetry – this was the book I always wanted to write but for years could get nowhere with. Only after I began writing poetry and had a poetry book published did I find the words to write this. When reviewed one of the comments was “Written in the form of a prose poem”
      In our new programme for the Leeds Writers’ Circle we propose to have a discussion group on the topic of prose poetry – I am looking forward to that immensely.

  3. Now it was my turn to read a posting four times!

    You have the way to understand the struggle and write exactly how it is. You have found the right images to describe it here.

    I do know how ‘nice’ it seems to get really totally painless every day, from alcohol, physiaclly and emotionally.

    Pain and memory of pain is the ‘mistress’ (hey, is there a male equivalent ? ) that seduced me too. Seduction can attack really swift, out of the blue. In the supermarket it has its artillery, waiting on the shelve.

    You are doing a great job with these postings. The more I think about it, the more I can see how right you are.

    Now I will have a nice mug of coffee πŸ™‚

    • belfastdavid Says:


      This is a really encouraging comment – Thank you.

      And yes, the enemy is not only seductive but also cunning and patient and can be all around us. We do need to be ever alert.

      But it is so reassuring to be able to wake up in the morning knowing we are still free and to be grateful. πŸ™‚

      I hope you enjoyed that cup of coffee.
      I think I will have one this morning too πŸ™‚

  4. Katherine Wyatt Says:

    What we feed will row.. i am fighting a battle of my own and am learning i best choose my thoughts carefully i adored this David…

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Katherine,

      As long as we continue to win the war, then, be assured, we can continue to win the battles. πŸ™‚

      One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “God will only give you to handle in one day David, what you can handle in one day” I have always found that to be true.

      My best to you

  5. Really beautifully written, rich with imagery, I like it, especially the stepping stones

  6. christine Says:

    When I said yesterday this is relevant to me at the moment, I realise that the whole book is relevant in some way all the time.

    When I got sober and was floating around on the “pink cloud” I felt as though nothing could attack and hurt me again. Life would be plain sailing. I have learned otherwise.

    There are always going to be battles,big and small., but today I know that the tools you so beautifully describe are always there. I was going to say they just have to be oicked up,polished and put to use but better never to put them down. Then we have a good defence in place when something turns up to challenge us.

    Your beautiful way with words shines through in this book, and it is a constant source of strength to me.

    Lots of love



    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Christine,

      I think we all go through that “pink cloud” stage πŸ™‚

      What we have to recognise is that working a program does not protect us from life (despite I often hear views to the contrary). What it does is provide us with the tools to deal with life. And those tools are always applicable irrelevant of the particular battle. John, in his comment referred to skirmishes and I quite like that.

      My observation tells me that you are using those tools in your current situation – I continue to be impressed.

      With lots of love

  7. Indeed, I always seem to be saying this to you, because although I recognize these things myself, you bring them marching straight past me, where I see them even more clearly!! You are a wonder, David, with magic in your words!! big hugs!!

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Sandy,

      The magic is in our recovery and in our gratitude πŸ™‚

      Big hugs back to you


  8. David,

    I am sorry for being so late back here–unavoidable obstacles of daily living. *wry smile*

    I am likely one of the few readers who does not have a history of addiction. I must look closer, to see other areas of my life where this guidance can be effective. But, the first reading is always for the simple enjoyment of your “voice”. It is lovely. In my mind, I always hear the words spoken with your audible voice.

    As to what this particular segment meant to me, in my life…well, that has changed from the last time I read this, and it is best kept to myself. Please know that it has given me some reassurance, and a new courage for dealing with my own demons.

    That said, the paintings are great, but I do miss seeing your face in the videos. I hope you are well.

    Much love,

    • belfastdavid Says:


      I am delighted that you have made the time to drop in and comment.
      I have been following some of your “obstacles of daily living” as best I can on FaceBook. Please send me an email – let me know how you are.

      Thank you too for your comments about “audible voice”. As you know I am a great believer that poetry is written to be read out loud so I am pleased when I get comments which tell me the audio versions are appreciated. Perhaps when this whole exercise is completed I will look to concatenate them all and produce one CD. πŸ™‚

      As regards recovery I do believe that the process of recovery is the same irrelevant of the starting point – So I am very reassured that You find reassurance and courage in the words.

      And I do suspect that, although it is easier to record with the paintings, I will go back to how I did it originally for the rest of the book πŸ™‚

      Much love to you


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