Today’s Topic: “Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales”
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…an alcoholic boy met a girl with bipolar depression. They fell madly in love, got married, and had five beautiful children who suffered from clinical depression, social anxiety, high-spectrum autism, and various other physical and mental health issues…
…AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER!”
35+ years ago, I married my beautiful wife, Julie. And against all odds, we’re still together, and it seems we’re finally on the path to OUR happy ending.
So, let’s talk about Happily Ever After!
Last year…on my birthday (June 2, 2019) I officially launched ChangeOfHeart.LIFE. The creation and development of this blog have been an extraordinary, life-changing ride!
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
For months now, I’ve contemplated writing a special first-anniversary post on Change of Heart. But, for better or worse, while I planned, life happened. Plagues, pandemics, natural disasters, race riots, and some exceptionally stressful family dynamics have hijacked my brain, and I find myself in a deep, dark funk. I’ve become obsessed with images on the news and comments on Facebook, making it almost impossible to write a message of hope and happiness.
In the end, my birthday… and the first anniversary of ChangeOfHeart.LIFE… came and went in rather unceremonious fashion.
Satan’s favorite lie
One of Satan’s favorite lies is this:
“You are all alone. Nobody understands you. You will NEVER find peace.“
For decades I believed this lie and my thoughts echoed what author Dan Brown wrote:
Decades ago, Satan’s lie did make me lose my grasp on reality. I came to believe that peace could only be found in a bottle of Bacardi. I isolated myself and drank every night.
The isolation imposed on all of us during COVID-19 has had a profound effect on me. Once again, I feel SO alone. But I’m not alone… I’ve lost count of how many of my friends at LDS Addiction Recovery meetings and clients at the addiction treatment facility where I work have admitted to me that “social distancing” has caused them to relapse into their addictive behaviors. Once again, sharing my stories and sentiments with others has reminded me this:
YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
Time to act
Finally, I chose to take action. I turned off the TV and radio news and completely disengaged from Facebook. I humbled myself and asked God’s forgiveness. And I’m working on making amends with some important people in my life.
Addiction recovery is all about sharing the journey…both the good and the bad. I realize like never before that I need to share NOW!
I’m starting in a dark place today. As I write this article, I pray we will all witness the transformation that occurs as we follow God’s counsel, step into the Light, and share our stories of failure and triumph with others.
So…lets see how this goes!
I’ve never had any advanced training in writing. Looking back, I’m astonished at just how good these articles are. This time last year (almost to the day), in response to one of my first Change of Heart posts (“Of Muggles, Magic, and Miracles“), my friend Don commented “What a wonderful series of thoughts”. I nearly agree, but I think he left out one word:
As in: “What a wonderful series of >>RANDOM<< thoughts”.
I write like I talk…just a series of random thoughts. I tend to wander off on tangents when I tell stories. In my defense, I eventually come back to my original topic, but it may be an hour later when everybody but me has forgotten where we began. 😉
Seeing God’s Hand…
I tend to see God’s hand in all things—especially in what I write. The process astounds me. I write things that come to me on impulse, then when I go back and read them later, I see profound connections in my “random” writings that I never recognized or intended. In my writings, as in the twists and turns of my life as a recovering alcoholic, I’ve been like the prophet Nephi:
“…I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”—1 Nephi 4:6 (The Book of Mormon)
I feel much like Amulek in the Book of Mormon. He said:
“…I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.
Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart,—Alma 10:5-6, The Book of Mormon (emphasis added)
By the Grace of God
Throughout my journey of alcoholism, I have seen much of God’s “…mysteries and his marvelous power…”. Indeed, he has preserved my life in many instances where I shouldn’t have survived. All this in spite of the fact that “…I would not hear God…” and that “…I went on rebelling….” against Him.
God’s grace is with each of us—every day…even when we are “rebelling against Him in the wickedness of our hearts”. He guides us, often without our realizing it. I testify to you:
His grace is exceptionally genuine in the lives of those who need his guidance the most:
the afflicted and the addicted.
WARNING! Here comes the next >>RANDOM<< thought… 😉
adjective 1. not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally
I’d like to share a short video with you. It’s from a fractured fairy tale that pokes fun at fairy tales; a story that has become one of my beloved guilty pleasures:
So, as you’ve probably guessed… the word for the day is
Why fairy tales and nursery rhymes?
I have 5 beautiful children. Julie and I read fairy tales to our kids. It teaches them to love reading and gives them a look through rose-colored glasses; a sense that the world is a happy, beautiful, and lovely place. Of course, we always shared the G-rated Disney versions of the fairy tales, not the PG-13 Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen versions, which give a more realistic view of life. After all, we’d all prefer to live “…happily ever after”, right?
We also took great joy in teaching our kids nursery rhymes. It teaches them to express themselves through spoken language and song. Bonus: there’s nothing more fun than playing Ring Around the Rosy with your toddler or teaching your slightly older kids to sing Three Blind Mice as a “round” (each person starting at a different time in a synchronized echo of the first). I taught my kids the same nursery rhymes that my parents taught me…the same ones that their parents taught them…and so on.
But where did these popular nursery rhymes come from? Many of them were a form of political discourse from the dark ages and the renaissance!
OK kids…play along with me: Cue the Princess Bride in your head as you read…
It is (put on your best Vezzini voice) “absolutely, totally, and in all other ways… INCONCEIVABLE” that we teach our kids the dark ages’ version of Facebook’s contentious commentary as some of their first words and songs!
Now (put on your best Inigo Montoya voice) give a slightly confused look, shake your head and say:
“…I do not think those words mean what you think they mean.”
Three Blind Mice
Three Blind Mice, Three Blind Mice.
See how they run, see how they run.
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
She cut off their tails with a carving knife
Have you ever seen such a sight in your life
As Three Blind Mice?
It’s bad enough to have this image stuck in your heads …but wait ’til you hear what are we actually singing about!
In 17th-century Britain, Protestants and Catholics didn’t get along. The three blind mice were three Protestant loyalists who were accused of plotting against the Catholic Queen Mary, called “Bloody Mary” because of the massacres of Protestants carried out in her name. Bloody Queen Mary is the farmer’s wife. But she didn’t cut off the tails of the three Protestant plotters. She burned them at the stake. Did you ever see such a sight in your life?
Ring Around the Rosy
Ring around the rosy, pocket full of Posies.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!
In Inferno (the 4th installment in the DaVinci Code series) author Dan Brown explored the origins of this beloved nursery rhyme. Inferno deals with unleashing a viral plague on the world. The book’s protagonist, Robert Langdon, explains that this virus is like the Black Plague of 1665, which killed more than half the population of Britain, and he sites the popular nursery rhyme:
“Allegedly, a “ring around the rosy” was a reference to a rose-colored pustule on the skin with a [black] ring around it, indicating that one was infected. Suffers would carry a pocket full of posies (flowers) to mask the smell of their own decaying bodies, as well as the stench of the city itself where hundreds of plague victims dropped dead daily. Their bodies were then cremated: “…Ashes, ashes, we all fall down”.”–Robert Landon (from Inferno, by Dan Brown)
…and you thought WE had it bad with COVID-19!
WOW!! Morbid, and…
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
I’ll bet you didn’t know this:
It’s likely that this rhyme was about alcoholism. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Humpty Dumpty” was a popular 17th-century drink made of brandy and ale.
- Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. “Humpty Dumpty” (brandy and ale) gives you the thrill of being “high on a wall”. We think it gives us a better outlook on life (which, of course, is not true).
- Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. Unfortunately the “high” doesn’t last and we come down with a devastating crash…both physically (think hang-overs and “DTs”) and emotionally.
- All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Fellow 12-steppers…what’s step 1? “Addiction makes your life unmanageable, and you (by yourself) are powerless to overcome it!” In other words…YOU, along with all the king’s horses and all the king’s men do NOT have the power to completely clean up the aftermath of substance abuse. And THAT’s why we go back to the pub for another pint of Humpty Dumpty…again, and again, and again.
OK, there it is! Finally, a message which I might consider teaching my children… once they’re of appropriate age.
But to teach it to our 2-year-olds??
OK… Everybody shout along with Vezzini:
I N C O N C E I V A B L E !!!
Humpty in Real Life…
Aron Ralston CLIMBED on a wall,
Aron Ralston had a great fall…
This photo shows Aron Ralston in Bluejohn Canyon, a deep slot-canyon near Moab, Utah. See that giant rock just above and behind his head? That’s an 800-pound chunk of chockstone. As he was descending the canyon, he dislodged the rock while climbing over it.
As he tumbled and fell in front of the boulder, it completely crushed his right hand, pinning it against the canyon wall. Aron was in a remote and inaccessible area of Canyonlands National Park and had not informed anybody where he was going. The odds of anybody finding him were almost zero. He only had about 12 ounces of water left in his Camelback, and the only food he had was 2 small burritos.
He spent five days slowly sipping his small amount of water, nibbling at the burritos, and repeatedly trying to extricate his arm, a futile effort. From the beginning, he contemplated amputating the trapped limb but decided he didn’t have appropriate tools for the job.
Prepared to die
At the end of the fifth day of being trapped, Aron prepared to die. He carved his name, date of birth (1975), and his presumed date of death (2003) into the canyon wall and videotaped a farewell message to his family. That night he began hallucinating and saw a vision. He saw himself playing with a 3-year old boy. Aron noticed that he was missing part of his right arm as he picked up the boy. As the vision ended, it was revealed to Aron that this young boy was HIS future son.
Waking on the morning of the sixth day he found a new will to live. Aron’s arm had begun to decompose and he became desperate to tear it off. A trained mechanical engineer, Aron had an epiphany that he could break his radius and ulna bones by applying torque against his trapped arm. He did so, and the bones broke. Then Aron amputated his forearm with a multi-tool (a small pair of pocket pliers with a couple of tiny knife blades), using the dull two-inch knife to sever the skin and muscle and the pliers to tear through the tougher tendons.
Here’s the Aron Ralston Story…Hollywood style. This short movie trailer will give you a real feel for the intensity of Aron’s journey.
After freeing himself, Aron climbed back out of the canyon, rappeled down a 65-foot cliff… with only one hand… and started hiking. After 6 miles of hiking, he encountered a family of vacationers who gave him food and water and alerted his rescuers to his location.
The lesson Aron Ralston teaches us?
Don’t give up…
NEVER GIVE UP!
Happily ever after…?
So, where have all my >>RANDOM<< thoughts led us today? …To “happily ever after”?
Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s review:
- Substance abuse
- Pandemics, natural disasters, race riots, and family dynamics
- Political commentary masquerading as children’s literature
- Poems about the Black Death, execution by fire, and alcoholism
- And finally, an irresponsible young man in deep trouble in the desert who cut his hand off with a dull knife.
OK…I was right…I’m definitely in a dark mood this week! But Change of Heart is about recovery, redemption, and the Light of God’s Grace. So let’s light up the darkness and find that HAPPY ENDING!
The crystalline moment…
Recently, I observed an interaction between one of my co-workers and a client who struggles with an addiction to heroin and prescription meds. When asked why he wanted to quit using drugs, the client responded “So that I don’t die”. Then my co-worker said something incredibly profound:
“Recovery is not about ‘not dying’… Recovery is about being FREE.“
A crystalline moment shatters, and the world is a different place. Where there was confinement, now there is release. Recoiling from my sudden liberation, my left arm flings downcanyon, opening my shoulders to the south, and I fall back against the northern wall of the canyon, my mind is surfing on euphoria. As I stare at the wall where not twelve hours ago I etched ‘RIP OCT 75 ARON APR 03,’ a voice shouts in my head:
‘I AM FREE!’― Aron Ralston, Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Aron’s “sudden liberation” saved his life…and changed it forever. Three years later, he married his beautiful wife and they were blessed to have the son who Aron saw in vision while trapped in Bluejohn canyon. As an experienced mechanical engineer, he designed his own prosthetic hand that could be used for the strenuous activities he enjoys, including mountain climbing. He has gone on to be the first person ever to winter solo-climb ALL the “fourteeners” (that’s 58 different mountains over 14,000 feet) in Colorado. Sharing his story, Aron has become an amazing motivational speaker, helping others to change their own lives.
When I talk with addicts about staying sober, almost all of them echo the thoughts I had when I was actively struggling with alcoholism: “I know what I need to do…but it is SO HARD!”
Speaking from experience, it’s painful! Making the leap from addicted to sober is nearly as difficult as cutting off your hand. You know will die if you don’t do it, but it’s terrifying not knowing how life will be without something that’s been so much a part of you for all of your life.
The prospect of sobriety is not an easy concept. It’s daunting. Discouraging. Yes, even disheartening. “Step 1” tells us we can’t do it alone. But then “Step 3” tells us who we can trust:
I know in whom I can trust…
Alcoholism has made me who I am today. Like Aron Ralston, my life is VERY different today than it was just a year or two ago. “Where there was confinement, there is now release.” For decades, I was angry at God for allowing me to venture into life’s canyons and get trapped by a giant boulder. But now I know this: “Recoiling from my sudden liberation… my mind is surfing on euphoria”.
“Everything happens for a reason, and part of the beauty of life is that we’re not allowed to know those reasons for certain.”― Aron Ralston, Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Why did I go through the trials I did for so many years? I don’t know for certain. But…remember Satan’s big lie? “…you will NEVER find PEACE.” It could have easily come true in my life. However, being trapped by the boulder of alcoholism, and having to cut away the decaying hand of addiction that was so much a part of me taught me about finding peace…real peace. Not the counterfeit peace that came from a pint (or quart…or GALLON) of “Humpty Dumpty”.
“Trust Jesus.” Let him still the tempest and ride upon the storm.
Believe that he can lift mankind from its bed of affliction, in time and in eternity.”
I can promise you this in the name of Jesus Christ: the power of Christ’s atonement is real. He will still the tempest. He will ride on the storm. And he will lift you from your afflictions and carry you above your addictions.
He has done it for me, and he will do it for you!
And then comes the fairy tale ending:
As always, I am inspired and uplifted by your efforts and by the stories of your journey. Comment below or private message me at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE