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by Abigail Van Buren

Poem Gave Alcoholic Courage to Risk Facing Her Problem

DEAR ABBY: I have been meaning to write to you for a very long time. I'm not interested in a reply. This is a thank-you note.

Eleven years ago, the following piece was published in your column. I had just taken the first step regarding "doing something" about my drinking. At that time, I was a 49-year-old woman, and honestly admitting that I had a problem with alcohol was extremely difficult.

Initially, this poem is what kept me going back to AA. I had been a prisoner, doing hard time in the high-walled prison of alcoholism.

I still have the original, almost worn-out copy from your column. It's been printed and reprinted (not for monetary gain) many, many times. I can't begin to tell you how many of us it has helped.

Perhaps it's time for you to do a rerun.


DEAR RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC: Congratulations on your continuing sobriety. I agree, the poem is well worth repeating.


To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To expose feelings is to risk rejection.

To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave. He has forfeited his freedom.

Only a person who dares to risk is free.

DEAR ABBY: Please help me. I'm 30 years old and have a professional career. My whole life I have dealt with the embarrassment of showing my embarrassment. My face tends to turn bright red very easily. If I'm a little uncomfortable or speaking to a group or even if people look at me, I blush. It gets worse when someone points it out.

I'm tired of it. I want to know how to stop turning red and what to say to people who feel compelled to call attention to my redness. -- FEELING BLUE FROM TURNING RED

DEAR FEELING BLUE: Blushing cannot be controlled. It occurs when a person feels embarrassment, shame, modesty, confusion or is at a loss for words. There is nothing you can "do" about it, so when someone rudely calls attention to your redness, I suggest you say nothing.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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