Apples and snakes


I am a recovering alcoholic. (I’ve been sober for 2 years, 10 months.) I like to think of my addiction to drink as an apple. It is juicy and red and it looks like I could pick it and sink my teeth into it and it would be delicious. My taste buds would explode. The juice would spurt all over my face and run down my chin. I would be happy. I know I would. I would be happy ever after. In this daydream, I forget that my apple is poisoned. I forget the story of the garden of Eden. I forget the story of Snow White. I want to pick that apple. I want to take a bite. Every day,

Take a bite


One of my friends lived in a a seaside town which was so weird I think I imagined it. She lead me down a dark path in between darkened rustling trees, with the angry sea behind us and one street light ahead at the bend. ‘It’s like Narnia!’ I shouted, wondering why she had rushed on ahead. She was almost out of sight. When we got to end of that path she showed me a poster – BEWARE OF THE SNAKE and laughed as she told me that a viper had bitten a man in that very lane the night before. He was still in hospital. I was angry with this friend as she gave me a gift of stolen sweet peas (Flower meaning – adieu. Another clue about this friend who had now turned into a ‘friend.’ Or do I mean ‘fiend?’) She seemed really pleased with herself and found my anger hilarious. I began to question myself (survivor hangover behaviour.)



For weeks afterwards I would fume about this friend. I could not let it go. Why had she lead me up that dark path? Why did it annoy me so much? Why did it upset me so much? Like all survivors I can feel and name anger much more easily than any other emotion. I think it’s because we switched off our feelings and disassociated from them to survive, But I finally got to the feeling – betrayal. And underneath that powerlessness. It took me three weeks to work out what was so damaging to me. She had taken away my ability to say no.

Work out the links

Just say NO

Saying NO is a minefield for the survivor of domestic abuse. Just say no. Just say yes. Saying nothing is yes, isn’t it? I’m still confused. Eventually I was so unsure of what I had actually said that no could have been yes – if he remembered it that way. Five years on, I had slowly learnt to say no. I was clumsy at first. I shouted it out. Not a crowdpleaser but out it came and that would just have to do. To end my last toxic relationship I shouted full on in the car, ‘I AM NEVER GOING TO SLEEP WITH YOU AGAIN!’ Classy – but it did the trick after 2 and a half years of classic on off narcissistic control so don’t judge me. So much of our life after abuse just has to do – at first. We are not refined. We are slightly feral socially. Or was that just me? Anyway, back to the story. This ‘friend’ had taken away my NO. When I challenged her, ‘Why did you lead me up that path?’ She said, ‘Well if I had told you there was a poisonous snake up there, you would have said no.’



I don’t think this story is about an apple or a snake or even friendship. This story is about consent. This ‘friend’ took away my autonomy – my choice – and my ability to say no. She was smiling as she rushed up that dark path because she felt more powerful than me. If I had been bitten she would have felt even more powerful, moving into Saviour mode. Ugh. She kept vital information from me that would have allowed me to make an informed decision for my own safety. She took away my consent. Is it really that important? To survivors like me, yes. Our autonomy may be wobbly and socially awkward but it is ours. It is everything to me. It allows me to say no to that juicy apple every day. Without that, where would I be? The 361 recovery programme helps you to find that NO – however shaky and wobbly it may be. You need that NO. It’s really important to find it.

Alice Smith 2019

loss #grief #survivor #domesticabuse #domesticabusesurvivor #lifecoach #coach #midlife #writer #narcissist #coercivecontrol #dating #menopause #forties #fifties #wisewoman #empowerment #wellness #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealth #women #dating #marriage #divorce #relationships #love #death #soul #spirit #apple #snake.#religion #eden.#temptation.#addict #addiction #sober.#sobriety #alcoholic #aa #justsayno #consent #adamandeve

Published by 361one

when I write I am a king. Listen to more at 361 live podcast

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