A few weeks ago, I got up early on a gorgeous Sunday morning. My plans were to take a nice long hike with my dogs, enjoy a cup of hot coffee on the deck then head off to church. My old lab was sniffing a bush, poking her big in and then suddenly she was completely tangled in thorns. I crawled into the thicket to untangle her and the leash and I felt a sudden burning hot pain in my butt. I shot up, tangling myself in the thorns, as I felt another burning pain, then another.

As I tried to get free I saw the yellow jackets on my sleeve and it all made horrible sense. I had disturbed a nest of highly venomous and now very angry hornets.

I am deathly allergic to stings.

My plans now changed. I desperately fought my way free, unhooked my dogs leash and yanked her out of the bush by her ears and we took off running while I swatted angry hornets off of us both, sustaining three more stings to my hand.

It was off the ER instead of coffee and church…

I started swelling and having trouble breathing as fear set in. Then anger.

I did not cause this!

I had nice plans for my day!

Here I was paying the price for yet another situation not of my own making!

At the ER the nurse took one look at the huge angry red swellings on my fanny and hand and after administering the life saving medications to stop my allergic reaction said, “now I’m going to give you something for the pain.”

The medication hit me and I dozed a bit. Then I noticed that the burning hot, pulsating pain was still there. I could feel it, I just did not care. It was like it was happening to someone else.

That was when I realized this entire morning mess was a life lesson.

I had made choices in the past to hang around people who did insane things. Then both of us became entangled in the thorns of addiction and rescue. Rescuing is hard and nasty business and you often do get hurt in the process.

But each time I had gotten hurt it was because I made the choice to get in the bush and fight the thorns. I had choices, therefore the responsibility for my pain was my own.

And what of the trapped person?

I realized that this must be what addiction really is. You drink, drug, eat, shop, gamble and you don’t care that it hurts you. You don’t care if you are hurting other people you just don’t want to feel the horrible sting anymore. Anything to soothe the pain! Anything to relieve the burning resentments, rejections, fear, heartbreak and doubts…

But just like my body on that gurney, the stings are still there. The situations you do not want to feel are still there. Whatever you choose to medicate with is a delay tactic, a lie. You get hurt rescuing? Check your motives. Who are you helping, or harming?

Let us all do a fearless and searching inventory of ourselves. Let’s get real, get honest and break this cycle together!

“The Sting” is an excerpt from Alanas book “The Little Engine who Could Not… a devotional for codependents.” The book is available from Amazon here



  1. Fantastic piece and your book title is provocative! The Little Engine who Could was my first and most defining self-development manifesto.

  2. Thank you Tsgoyna! I loved that book too, grew up on it. But the one thing I could NOT do was cure another’s addiction no matter how bad I “thought I could, I thought I could!” The title is a tribute to all of those who have condemned ourselves for not being able to do it!

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