In Norse Mythology, encompassing the mythic stories of many of the ancient northern European cultures, the tales of Siegfriend and Brunhilde are very present. To many of us, they are most familiar in various parts of Richard Wagner’s cycle of operas, Der Ring des Nibelungen, composed and premiered in the middle of the Nineteenth Century in Germany. Siegfried and Brunhilde are star-crossed lovers, enduring all kinds of hardship, treachery and misfortune in efforts to be together, only to die vaingloriously in the end, unable to overcome the difficulties fate has put before them. For some of our own brethren, caught in the never-ending trappings of the disease of addiction, the outcomes can be as tragic as these age-old mythic stories.
Interestingly, the recent Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained, picked up on this Norse legend as the freed African American Django is on a desperate quest is to find and free his bride, Broomhilda, from the enslavement of the evil master, Calvin Candie, of the plantation, Candyland, in the pre-Civil War South. This story ends with Django ultimately being successful in freeing Broomhilda, but not before a series of classic Tarantino blood spattered gun battles and the complete destruction of Candyland in an enormous fiery explosion.
The use of the word, Candyland, in this story is fascinating to me. Doesn’t the idea of a Candyland have a wonderful ring as a description of our lives in addiction? Didn’t we think we were always in a Candyland when we were wrapped in our addictive processes…all sweetness and deliciousness that never nurtured but only destroyed? How true it is that Recovery requires us to destroy the idea of their ever being a Candyland.
While much of these stories, ancient mythic or modern Hollywood stories, might seem to have little to do with alcoholism, they none-the-less entail a series of desperate struggles by traditional heroes, not unlike us, trying to overcome enormous obstacles in our quest for sobriety, obstacles that many others only find insurmountable.