She calls your name, and you shiver. You try to ignore her, but without her, life seems meaningless. She whispers in your ear, and you strain to catch what she is saying. Shaking your head to stop the spread, insidious and encompassing, you can’t help but wonder how anyone can live without her. What a dull life others must lead without the pull of something so alluring and exciting. “Stay busy,” you think, “that will help.” But on your feet or lying in your bed, curled up to stop the onslaught, she finds you, her voice urgent now. She needs you, you need her, her beckon is intoxicating. You think of your family, your friends. They hate her, they say she has taken you away from them, robbed you of your joy. “Don’t listen to them,” she purrs, “I love you, we have so much fun together. You are happy with me, how can something that makes you happy be bad? They don’t understand.” She tugs on the cable surrounding you, ensnaring you. It is a beautiful chain. Golden and glistening with diamonds, you allow yourself to be pulled. “She is so beautiful, beauty is good. She knows me, understands me, she accepts me,” you reason. On your feet now, walking, then running to her, excitement building, your heart pounding. Your loved ones, watch you go to her once again, and they keep watching, hoping you will turn around and see that they are still there, right where you left them. But you become smaller and smaller until even eyes sharp and bright with love, can’t see you anymore. And you? You run to her now, the decision made, the die-cast. But she turns before you can reach her, a swirl of beauty, the ecstasy you have chased just out of reach. “wait,” you say, “you promised that we would be together, you told me you loved me, I left everything for you.” Laughing, she darts out of your grasp, pulling you with her, you can’t keep up and you fall on your knees. She is dragging you now, you are no match for her strength. You try to stand, but she runs faster, the golden thread now a rusty chain, wrapped around your neck, choking you. Too late, you realize that your family was right. Her beauty is hideous, terrible and alive. How did you not see? Why didn’t you listen? Shame falls on you like a black blanket, stifling and paralyzing. You know that it won’t be long now, you have thrown away everything for her, and she will make you another victim. Taking one last furtive glance back, you can see your family, maybe a whole group still, or maybe only one left, standing on a hill, backlit by the setting sun, as steady and unfaltering as an oak, with roots so vast and so deep, they tremble below you now, and jolt you with the truth. You have been deceived, you were wrong, you hate yourself and you want to die, but you keep looking at that beautiful tree as you bump along ensnared by your master, Addiction. Hope gone now, regret, bitter on your tongue, you are ready to accept your fate until you become aware of love and forgiveness raining down on you, a sprinkle at first, then a downpour. Clean and refreshed, you struggle to your feet, causing Addiction to stop for a minute, bewildered. She’s coming back to get you, beautiful once again, whispering to you so sweetly. But, you have seen the truth, you have felt love and she is not love, she is deception. The decision made, the chains around you fall, and you trudge back up the hill, beaten and battered, but feet moving toward your shelter. She still calls you, you are still attached, but it is a thread now, and the velvet cord from your family to your heart strengthens. It has always been there, it will always be there. It is called love and it will never fail. You are still pulled, you will always be pulled, but you know that the love and devotion of others will tug at your heart with a strength that far surpasses the pull of Addiction. You are sheltered now. You are home, you are loved and forgiven, you are where you belong.