Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Love and Old Yeller

Have you ever cried at the movies? I know I have. After all, movies stir such strong emotions. Fear, anger, indignation, and even love. It becomes easy to get caught up in the story line, and forget that it is just that, a story. Easy to forget that those are actors, not real people.

One such movie is the 1957 classic, “Old Yeller.” In this film, a young boy from Texas named Travis develops a strong bond with his Labrador Retriever, Old Yeller. The pivotal point in the movie comes when Old Yeller defends Travis and his family from a wolf. Though wounded, the brave dog survives the attack and saves his family.

Only after surviving the wolf’s attack do Travis and his family realize the price Old Yeller paid to protect them. The dog contracted rabies during the battle with the wolf. As a result, Old Yeller must be put down.

If the tears were not already flowing, they soon will be. Travis, the boy who has loved Old Yeller since he was a puppy, takes it upon himself to put his faithful companion out of his misery. Yes, tears will be flowing.

Human emotions are certainly an interesting phenomenon. Not only are they stirred by real life events, they can also be stirred by movies, books, or tales of folklore.

We actually become attached to our favorite characters as we get lost in the telling of a good story. I have no idea why it is so easy for tears to fall at the movies, I only know that they do.

In some ways, my experience with drug abuse was like a movie. I became emotionally attached to a life, and to people that were a part of that life, that wasn’t real. My world became a drug induced fantasy.

Real love was replaced by a cheap imitation. Real friends were replaced by people who only cared about one thing. Getting high was everything to everyone in that world, and we all did what we needed to in order to catch the next fix.

Eventually, I completely abandoned any real relationships in favor of the fantasy based ones found in active addiction. My mind became so warped by drugs that I willingly traded real love for the imaginary version.

I remember the fight to hold onto those imaginary feelings that came early in my recovery. I remained convinced that the fantasy had been real. In part, this feeling was due to the fog that remained from the drugs. On the other hand, a part of me needed those relationships to be real. After all, I had sacrificed almost every real relationship in my life in their pursuit. If I let go of those relationships, what would I have left?

It was like refusing to leave the movie theater long after the credits have run and the lights turned on. Gripping my seat, refusing to leave, I insisted there must be more movie to come. Surely this is just intermission.

It was Amanda who first helped me see the fantasy world I had built for myself. In all honesty, I was anything but lovable at the time. I was a total wreck.

Somehow, she saw something redeeming in me even then. Something worth fighting for. Something worth loving.

That fantasy world came so close to ruining my real world. There were those relationships that were irreparably damaged by my actions. Others that would take a long time and great effort to repair. Some are still questionable.

Only when Amanda introduced me to the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous did I begin to understand how warped my reality had become. I began to see the difference between fantasy and reality. I began learning to love again.

As I practice love in my life, I experience a reality that is better than any drug-induced fantasy ever hoped to be. As I released my grip on that seat in the movie theater, life began to fill once again with genuine love. I became able once again to love the people in my life. I even became able to love myself eventually.

Through the NA program, my life has been moved from fantasy back into reality. By applying spiritual principles to my life, I am able to truly live again.

Every once in a while those old fantasies try to come back to the surface, and convince me that they are real. When that happens, I’ve learned to settle myself, study my emotions, and remember what is real.

It takes almost no time at all these days to put those old feelings away. I am so surrounded by real love today that the fake no longer has any appeal.

I hope I always have the capacity to cry at a good movie. There is, after all, no real harm in it. More importantly, today I have the capacity to experience reality. To feel genuine emotions. To love with purity of heart.

Have a remarkable day!

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