At Recovery Innovations we believe in the fact of recovery, and that people tell their journeys from many perspectives. We hope that the stories in this blog from our team, the people we serve and their families and supporters will fill your heart and inspire you with hope!
Tiffany has written her recovery story in the form of a fairy tale. This whimsical story captures the journey many of us have made. Its unique style puts a whole new slant on telling our stories!
Thanks, and happy reading!
Lisa St. George, ITE, MSW, CPRP
Director of Recovery Practice
by Tiffany Keeler, Art Works Senior Coordinator
A long time ago, I was a princess in a windowless tower, victimized by a hideous warlock, completely without hope of escape. And the worse this all-powerful man treated me, the more black my shriveled heart became, until I was sure everyone could see it straight through my skin.
There were many knights that came to my tower. Each proclaimed his love and promised to be my savior. One of them even knocked a little hole in the stony wall. But none of them could free me. And secretly I was glad, because I didn’t want anyone to see the horrible creature I was becoming. I would cry and cry each night as the warlock’s minions tormented me. They told me how ugly I had become and that no one would try to rescue me if they only knew. I pitied myself because I knew there couldn’t be anyone as miserable and lonely as I was. I was so miserable, in fact, that I never even noticed a vine that had wound its way through that hole between the stones of the western wall. And though I didn’t pay any attention to it, that vine grew and climbed, as vines are apt to do.
Sometimes at night, I would hear a Voice calling to me through the darkness. I put many faces to that Voice: I imagined that a knight had finally come to save me; I dreamed that a long-lost family member had found me; I visualized a good wizard who had found a way to break the warlock’s curse. But as time wore away at my hopes, I began to despise the Voice and its promise of rescue. I lost all hope and turned toward the eastern wall, away from the Voice that tried to comfort me. The darkness within the tower grew and grew until I could see nothing at all. And still, the Voice beckoned to me as I tried to ignore it.
Until one day when the Voice, soft as a whisper, called my name. With tears on my face and an ache in my heart, I finally answered. “I am already as miserable as I can be. What do you want; nothing could be worse.” The Voice chuckled as it said, “My child, you have long awaited a knight to break your bonds. But no knight of this world could release you from your tower, because the warlock’s enchantments cannot be broken by ordinary means.”
“Why do you tell me this, just to torment me?” I cried, but the Voice answered, “No, child, I came to bring you hope. For, you see, I hold the counter-spell to end your curse. I am a knight like no other, a wizard more powerful than any, and I am your loving Father.”
When I turned, instead of a stark wall of grey stone, I saw a beautiful mass of vines and flowers. I pulled some aside with my hand, and the first rays of sunlight touched my skin. I recoiled from the bright light. “I do not want to come out,” I sobbed. “I am a hideous creature, a monster.” From beyond the green curtain of foliage, a hand emerged to caress my face. Its touch was sunbeams and spring rain, the scent of new flowers, and the warmth and sweetness of honey in the comb, all at once. It erased my fears. “You are beautiful,” the Voice said. “Come out into the light.”
I climbed down the vines like a rope ladder, and when I reached the ground, I saw I was alone. But in my heart, I heard the Voice saying, “You will never be alone again, my child. Now, look up.” As I did, I saw that the field before me was littered with hundreds of towers just like my own. And suddenly, I knew that each tower held another prisoner who was being tormented just as I had been.
The towers were too numerous to count. Some were all grey with no windows, like mine had been. Some were tall and black with wickedly sharp pinnacles. Evil-looking gargoyles guarded others. Each tower was terrible to look at.
For an instant I faltered, remembering my years within my own tower. And as my heart quivered in my chest, I heard the warlock himself laughing cruelly behind me. “Stupid little girl,” he said as I shook, “Did you think you could be freed that easily? No matter where you go, you will take the ugly, shriveled little heart I gave you. You can never escape my spell!”
Perhaps if the warlock had used different words, I would have remained in his grasp forever. But the mention of his spell reminded me of my Father’s words. I looked down, and instead of a black, seething mass, something glowed within my chest. I remembered my Father’s loving caress and felt courage flow through my limbs.
When I turned, I had fire in my heart and in my eyes, and the warlock seemed small and weak (for, you see, it was my fear and shame that fed his power over me). “Leave me, warlock!” I cried. “I am no longer yours; I belong to one more powerful than you.” And the being that had tormented me in a dark tower all my life blew away with the wind.
I turned to survey the land, and a woman ran to my side. “Our Father sent me,” she said, holding out a small parcel. As she raced off, I opened the package and found a bag full of seeds, along with a note: “Please plant these seeds near each tower. I will make them grow. Love, Dad”
With my newfound courage, I started toward one hulking mass of black stone. I saw, as I came closer to it, that the ground was wild and uneven, overgrown with thorny brush and spotted with ravines and holes. I knew that this life would not be easy. There was a broad, level path leading away from the towers, and it seemed so much easier to travel. And if I had not spied one of the warlock’s minions hiding behind a boulder, I might have taken that way.
As I turned back toward the towers, I heard my Father’s voice again. “Well done, my child. Because of your faithfulness to my instructions, I will strengthen your heart so you will run these hills with endurance.”
I also knew, as I glanced at the fire in my chest, that I would never despair again, and I was out of the warlock’s grasp forever.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.