Life Lessons from a Movie: When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story- A Must Watch Movie for Those Affected by Addiction
A Project that Actually Taught Me Life Lessons
Last week, I embarked on the journey of my final AP Psychology Project. For the project, we had to pick a movie that depicted a psychological disorder or concept and make a five-minute Windows Movie Maker Movie about how accurately the movie depicted the disorder or concept. Since I am an addiction and recovery guru, I chose the movie When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story. I had watched the movie several months ago after a fellow Al-Anon member brought it up in our Al-Anon Facebook Group and loved it. Though I was originally not thrilled about my final project because I am getting senioritis and am horrible with technology, I am not grateful for it because it forced me to analyze the movie more deeply.
Summary of the Movie
When Love is Not Enough is the story of Bill and Lois Wilson, the co-founders of Alcoholics' Anonymous and Al-Anon. The movie takes you through Bill's downward spiral into alcoholism, the effects it had on his wife Lois and their friends and family, and Bill's and Lois' epiphanys that drove them to establishing AA and Al-Anon. Prior to when they founded the 12-Step Programs in 1935, the final destinations for people who suffered from addiction were mental hospitals, jails, or graves. Bill, Dr. Bob, Lois, and Dr. Bob's wife revolutionized addiction treatment for the entire world.
Lessons the Movie Taught
The Final Verdict
Overall, the movie is a must-watch for anyone who has been affected by addiction because it touches on all components that are the essence of the disease, the effects of the disease, and recovering from the disease.
When the Life that You Never Dreamed of Creeps its Way into Your Dreams
Though it may not seem like it in the beginning, recovery opens up the possibility to have life that you always dreamed of. Often times, recovery offers you a life that is even better than the life you would have originally had. However, a saying by an unknown author says, "Recovery did not open the gates of heaven and let me in; it opened the gates of hell and let me out." Recovery is not the "perfect life." Though it offers so much good, recovery life is just like any other life; it throws ups and downs at you.
I remember reading an article several years ago about how recovering addicts who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions often dream about relapsing. I could not imagine how terrifying that is. I vowed from an early age to never use drugs or alcohol because of my family history of addiction and mental illness, but at the same time I was vowing to never use drugs or alcohol, I was descending into a different form of addiction: co-dependency. For those of you who do not know, co-dependency can simply be explained as being addicted to the addict just as much as he/she are addicted to his/her addictive substance of choice. I was addicted to my drug-addicted, incarcerated cousin.
After eight years of triumph and tribulation, I finally decided to close the door on my cousin when I turned 18 years-old. Though it took a little while to figure out exactly how I would do that, I experienced the epiphany that I had to make the tools of Al-Anon and Al-Ateen my entire way of life and thinking. Though I have been active in the programs for two years, I would say I have only had a good five months. I have experienced the beauty of recovery in its entirety. I have truly learned that it is possible to be happy and fulfill all of MY dreams and goals regardless of whether my cousin is using or not and is in my life or not.
Just yesterday, I could barely keep my eyes open after school. My darn circadian rhythms make me tired everyday around two or three o'clock, and Mondays just exacerbate the issue. I ended up taking a four-hour nap. However, I did not stay in my bed. My body was lying there, but my mind was driving down route Trenton 206. I was driving to Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, the prison where my cousin was at in 2014 (he is now in a different prison for the last few months of his sentence). I do not remember every part of the dream, but I remember that I was attempting to go to security when he was told that he did not want to see me. I went home and cried to my mom, who told me that she would rearrange her work schedule this week to come with me to make sure he agrees to seeing me (something she would NEVER do). I agreed to that plan with alacrity, but I knew that it would be futile because he did not want to see me.
I woke up, disappointed that the dream was not real and that I did not at least stay asleep long enough to reach the conclusion of that dream. The worst part was that I questioned if my days in active co-dependency were really over. I know that I want a life of freedom that is full of working my program and pursuing my dreams of becoming an addictions counselor, author, and speaker, and I know that I do not want a life of being addicted to a person that would not even shed a tear if I died. Addiction is a powerful disease that lurks into your mind when you least expect it; it is up to find the strength to fight it.
How to Cope with Dreams of Relapse
That night, I suffered insomnia due to the four-hour nap. I was hurting from experiencing the rejection once again and questioning if I could go on in my life like this (constantly having to push the beast off my back). The next morning as I was eating breakfast, I started reading articles about dreams of relapsing.
These are the coping strategies I came up with:
Bria Riley is a published author, recovering codependent and adult child of an alcoholic, who is active in several recovery programs. She knows the turmoil and heartbreak of growing up in an addiction-stricken family and wants to help others who have also been affected by addiction through her writing.