There was a young rabbit who became pregnant. She wanted to have her baby, but knew that if she raised him, his life would be in danger. She wanted him to have a good life, the life she never had or could. So she had her baby and he was a beautiful, white rabbit, but she left him by a tree for someone else to raise, so he would be safe.
A family of crows found the baby rabbit and took him in to raise him and to take care of him. They named him Ploppy. He was very little but began to grow. Ploppy wondered why he didn’t look like his family so one day he asked “Why don’t I look like any of you?” The mother crow replied “We are not your real family. We found you by a tree and took you in.” Ploppy asked “So then you aren’t my real mom and dad isn’t my real dad?” The mother crow nodded. It was crushing for Ploppy. He was very young and didn’t understand. “Why did my mom give me away? Where is she? Why didn’t she want me?” he asked. The mother crow replied “We don’t know. We don’t know anything about her. Now stop all these stupid questions” Ploppy sadly thought to himself “What does love really mean? My parents say they love me, but they say they love the tree house we live in too, so really I’m not loved any more than a house. And what if they gave me away the way my mother did?”
As Ploppy grew he had a vivid imagination. He did all of the crow things that the crows insisted that he do, but he really wanted to do rabbit things. He wanted to hop and run and play. But the crows demanded that he act like a crow in every way and severely disciplined him if he did not act like a crow. His father crow was always either ridiculing him, criticizing him or dismissing him, waiving him away with a brush of his wing. Every morning Ploppy’s father would whip him with a stick to start the day, for no reason. It was the only attention Ploppy got from his father so Ploppy started to look forward to the whippings. His mother crow would be happy one minute, angry the next, sad the minute after that and she was always critical of everything he did. He didn’t like any of the things that the crows did and he didn’t even like the crow food that he had to eat. The crows would never include him in their talks, but would just brush him off and tell him to go somewhere and do something while they were talking. But when they had parties, they would bring him out and make him do humiliating things like some funny pet, there for everyone’s amusement.
He would always get through the day by pretending that he was someone else, somewhere else or both. Or he would imagine what his real mother was like and where she was. He never had much chance to explore his imagination because he always had to do boring crow chores, go to boring crow events and only do the things that the crows wanted to do.
But he wanted to be a crow so badly. He was afraid if he didn’t become a crow, they would give him away like his mother did. He tried so hard to be a crow, but he never could because he was a rabbit. He was very frustrated, very sad and very ashamed that we wasn’t like the crows. Ploppy kept trying to fly like the crows did because he wanted to feel accepted by them but as hard as he tried to fly, he never could.
One day while the crows were eating, he was determined to fly, and he wanted to show the crows that he could fly. They would be so proud of him. So he got a huge running start, came running towards them, and jumped high up into the air, flapping his little paws all the way through the air. He jumped higher and farther than he ever had jumped in his life, but he didn’t fly and just plopped to the ground in front of them tumbling head over heels with a thud. The crows just laughed at him and went about their eating. Ploppy said defensively “Didn’t you see how far I jumped?! That was farther than I have ever jumped before! Farther than any of YOU could jump!!”
But the father crow just shook his head in disgust “You should not be wasting time on such foolishness. Jumping is just immaturity and silliness. You need to work hard and become a crow so you can be a success when you are older.” He puffed out his chest and snorted “Let me show you what I can do and what YOU should be able to do.” So the father crow took off into the air, flew in all kinds of loops and aerial acrobatics, came down to the ground proudly and said “That is what you COULD do if you weren’t fooling around and applied yourself. By the time I was your age, I was flying on all kinds of duties for my family, like an adult, and earning my keep. Now go get back to work so that you can become a successful crow. I don’t want to raise an underachiever” he said dismissively and swatted Ploppy away with his wing. Ploppy was humiliated, ashamed and angry all at the same time.
Ploppy noticed that the crows liked to eat walnuts. It seemed to make them all happy. Whenever they ate walnuts, they seemed to laugh and relax. If they were in a bad mood, after they ate walnuts, they would become in a good mood. They would have parties all the time and everyone would be eating walnuts, laughing and having a good time. He just knew that walnuts = FUN! He wanted to eat walnuts too, but the crows told him that only adults could eat walnuts. He felt left out.
Ploppy went to school and there were lots of other animals to play with. There were cats and gophers and chipmunks. There were even some other rabbits, but none of them were white like he was. He felt different because he didn’t have his real family and also because he wasn’t the same color as everybody else. He wanted to be liked and accepted by everyone so he wouldn’t feel alone, but because he felt different that made him want to isolate himself even more. He still was always imagining that he was somewhere else or something else. He would get punished by the teachers because he was daydreaming and not doing his work. He would act out and do naughty things out of his frustration. The teachers would tell his parents. He would come home and they would yell at him and hit him more with the stick.
Ploppy was very unhappy. He was frustrated and ashamed of himself and he was sad and angry, all at the same time. He was a rabbit raised by crows and he was white so he wasn’t like anybody else. He hated feeling alone but yet because he felt different he wanted to isolate himself. Deep inside he also felt deserted and very afraid because his mother had given him away. He was sure that the crows were going to give him away too. “Why wouldn’t they?” he thought to himself. “I’m just a dumb, stupid, rotten little white rabbit.” The sorrow over all of his past failures of trying to be a crow and the feeling of isolation and abandonment continued to gnaw into him.
A couple of years passed by when Ploppy’s mother crow got sick and died. Now he felt even more alone because both of his mothers had left him. Ploppy’s father crow was sad, but he watched his father crow eat walnuts and they seemed to make him feel better. He always heard his friends talking about how they would steal walnuts from their parents and have all this fun. So he would sneak walnuts out of the house and go out with his friends, eat the walnuts and get into all kinds of trouble.
When Ploppy became an adult and was able to eat walnuts whenever he wanted to, he began to eat them every day. They made him feel good. They soothed all the pains of the past and took away the feelings of failure, shame, isolation and abandonment. He had fun when he ate walnuts. If he was having a bad day, he could make it ok and if he was having a good day, he could make it better. He didn’t feel alone when ate walnuts. He would go to wild walnut parties all the time and have a blast, just like the crows always did. When he was around others who were eating walnuts for fun too, he felt accepted and he could escape from the problems or boredom of life. And walnuts were EVERYWHERE. Everyone he knew was always talking about using walnuts all the time. But when he ate a lot of walnuts, he would feel terrible the next day. He would have horrible anxiety, feel guilty, and physically sick which made him want walnuts even more to make that all go away. After awhile he desperately wanted more walnuts, as if he would die if he didn’t get more.
As years went by, his walnut use became worse and worse. So did his shame and isolation from his past, and that shame and isolation tripled because of his walnut use. He knew he had a problem with walnuts and that he couldn’t, or really didn’t WANT to, stop eating them. He still wanted to be a crow, but now he had so many failures that he felt like he could never be a crow. They were all he had but how long would it be before he was abandoned by them too? The only thing that made everything seem to go away was to keep eating walnuts.
He had fallen into a pit. He wanted to get out of that pit almost as much as he wanted to stay in it. Because there was comfort there, a sweet escape from all of the pain, shame and anxiety that he felt. But the more walnuts he ate, the more he was isolating himself from everyone else, making him feel even more alone. So he had to eat even more walnuts just to get through the day. He was always either using walnuts or thinking about using walnuts. This all became a vicious downward spiral. He felt like everyone had given up on him, but really he had just given up on himself. They had all just pushed him away but he had also pushed everyone away.
Unfortunately, he went on to eat walnuts even more. Several times, he ended up in an animal hospital from eating too many walnuts and one day he even almost died. At the hospital, they just wheeled him into a hallway and he had to sit there on a table, drowning in anxiety and isolation and trembling with fear. Those that worked there just walked by and looked at him with a combination of pity and disgust. He never felt lower.
They told him to go get help from a wise owl they knew about so he did. He found the owl and told the owl his whole story from childhood on. After he finished his story, the owl said ” You aren’t just addicted to walnuts, you are addicted to ESCAPE. You’ve conditioned yourself to using walnuts to escape reality and escape your problems which is like pouring gasoline on yourself to escape a fire. You have become completely conditioned to always taking something to alter your mood and your reality. You will need help to do these things, you CANNOT do it alone. After that, I want you to go and find out who you are. After that, come back and see me. Ploppy said he would do this.
So Ploppy got the help that he needed for his walnut use. He found that there were many others who had this problem and they got together all the time. It was a relief and a comfort to know that he was not alone. These others knew and understood what he was going through, without judging him, because they too were either going through it or had been through it. They all encouraged and supported each other because they all had the same problem with addiction. It was like a FAMILY! He felt accepted and safe with them and they talked about walnut addiction all the time and helped him prevent relapse. The only time he didn’t feel bad about himself and his life was when he was when he was meeting with these new friends, talking about his walnut addiction and hearing them talk about their walnut addiction. He was dependent on these meetings but it was better than being addicted to walnuts.
But when he came back from his journey, Ploppy still felt empty, except for when he was meeting with his recovery friends. He didn’t like himself and he couldn’t see any new future. So he went back to see the owl. He told the owl all about his journey and about his walnut addiction recovery and his new friends. He told the owl how his new friends told him he was permanently diseased and that all his problems were basically his own making because of his own selfishness and self-centeredness. Ploppy told the owl how they told to him to go make amends to the people that caused him all his harm in his childhood. He told the owl that they showed him that he’s full of defects and shortcomings and flaws.
Ploppy said to the owl “But now I just feel like nothing has changed. I stopped using walnuts but nothing has changed around me – it’s all just the same old problems and now I can’t even escape with walnuts. All I have is my new recovery friends and meetings, but now I hate myself more than ever. So why isn’t anything different now? They said ‘nothing changes if nothing changes’ but I’ve stopped using walnuts and not only has nothing changed, I feel worse about myself than ever before. I still can’t fly. I still can’t be a crow. They all can fly and when they call, people stop take notice, watch and respect them. But nobody respects or listens to rabbits. I’m just a defective, diseased failure.
The owl replied “You went out on your journey and you found out WHAT you are. But I told you to go find out WHOOOOOO you are,” the owl hooted. “First of all, I think there has been a misunderstanding. Yes, you must own your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions and the bad things you did when you were addicted to walnuts. However, your problems in life began with, and your walnut addiction started with, the trauma you suffered as a child and the bad things that happened to you in childhood. That trauma was what caused you to become selfish and self-centered in the first place, as a coping mechanism to deal with that. So that selfishness and self-centeredness, in combination with your other events from childhood, is what caused you to become drawn to walnut addiction. It is misleading, incorrect and unhealthy to blame yourself for everything and say that all your problems are your own fault. I do NOT mean make excuses for eating walnuts. Making excuses for your past only means making excuses for your future. But understand and accept what you are, what got you to this point and stop judging and condemning yourself. You are not ‘diseased’. You have a mental disorder. You MUST forgive yourself and get yourself unstuck from this shame-based hook that you’ve stuck yourself on. That is a key to your recovery” said the owl.
He continued “Second of all, it is good to always be working on self-improvement. We can all always become better and we should always try to do that. However that does not mean everything about you that isn’t perfect is a ‘character defect, flaw or shortcoming’ and that if you don’t correct all these ‘defects’, you are a failure. All it means is that you are just seeking to improve on what is already very good to begin with. The only things that could be considered ‘defects, flaws and shortcomings’ are those behaviors that you were engaged in that contributed to your self-destructive addiction to walnuts and those should be corrected and changed.”
He added ” You mentioned wanting to be a crow. Why do you want to be a crow so much? Does anybody feel comforted by crows? Does anyone ever want to cuddle with a crow when they feel sad? But everyone looks at rabbits as comforting. Rabbits are warm and soft and make people feel better when they are having a bad day. You, in particular, are a white rabbit, which are creative and imaginative, insightful, inspiring and convincing, decisive, determined and passionate. These are the personality traits of white rabbits that you were born with. You should be focusing your attention and working on increasing and improving these wonderful, positive aspects of your personality. Some of the less positive aspects of personality traits of white rabbits is that they are also overly sensitive, extremely private, perfectionistic, always need to have a cause and can burn out easily. Nobody in the world is perfect and everybody has negative aspects of their personality. Those are just parts of your personality that you need to be aware of so you can adjust your behavior when you need to. But I would never refer to everything about you that isn’t perfect as a ‘defect or flaw’. That is just not a good, positive way for anybody to view themselves.” said the owl. “Then there were all the childhood experiences you had and adult situations you’ve been in that you told me about. Those personality traits, combined with all of your individual experiences as a child and adult, make you WHO you are – a unique, one-of-a-kind individual. There has never been anyone like you and there never will be. It’s not possible. Everyone can say the same thing about themselves. Everyone is who they are now because of that same combination.” said the owl.
He went on “As for ‘making amends’ with people you have harmed. Have you forgiven yourself? Have you ‘made amends’ with yourself? You certainly harmed yourself during your walnut addiction didn’t you? Before you even think about making amends to anybody else, you should be forgiving yourself and making amends with yourself. Use the understanding of why you are who you are to forgive yourself and throw away any guilt and shame you have. Second, forgive anyone else who has harmed you, or at least accept who and what they are, even if they were a cause of your walnut abuse. Use that same understanding of yourself to understand those people who harmed you and throw away any resentments you have. You are not excusing any harm that’s been done to you or making excuses for any harm you’ve done – there is a difference between forgiveness and excuses. You are simply accepting and approving of yourself and just accepting of why others are who they are. Throwing away your guilt and resentments gives you freedom to be kind and compassionate to YOURSELF, but also to anyone else. Kindness and compassion come from wisdom but resentment and guilt just drains your brain and tears you apart.”
He finished ” Remember freedom is not being able to do whatever you want – freedom is the absence of ego, resentment or guilt. But there is a big difference between ego and pride. You can and should be proud of yourself that you have fought through all of the things you’ve been through and proud of what you’ve accomplished in your recovery from walnut addiction. But do not evaluate yourself or anyone else by comparing yourself to other people. Who they are is going to be completely different from who you are so it makes no sense to compare yourself to anyone else because you are uselessly comparing apples to oranges. For those same reasons, do not bother yourself in the least with what anybody else thinks of you. The only opinion of you that matters is YOUR opinion of you.” said the owl.
He added “You should not just be sitting around and only talking about past walnut use and current struggles with walnut use or even triumphs over walnut use. In the past all you did was think about and talking about using walnuts, but now all you’re doing is thinking about and talking about NOT using walnuts. But you’re still constantly thinking about and talking about walnuts. Life is NOT just what happens in between meetings with your friends and working on your recovery from walnut addiction. Of course if you are struggling you want to talk about it and get support from your friends. But live your life, enjoy it, forget about the walnuts and stop talking about them and thinking about them all the time! Why don’t you and your friends just talk about things like how wonderful life is and how pleasant in the present life is when things don’t just fly by in the fog of a buzz.”
The owl concluded “I want you to stop talking to yourself in a judgmental and critical way all the time. Instead I want you to always talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend who needs encouragement. Then here is a summary of things I want you to work on right away –
Number One – Do not worry about what other people think of you – the only opinion of you that matters is your opinion of you.
Number Two – Do not live in the past or keep reliving the past nor always be worrying about the future – always be present, here and now
Number Three – Don’t fear change – life would be boring without change
Number Four – Do not put yourself down and don’t always judge and criticize yourself – instead always encourage yourself
Number Five – Stop overthinking everything and don’t have all-or-nothing thinking. Simplify your thoughts and take things as they come”
Finally the owl said “As far as the statement ‘nothing changes if nothing changes’, a better way to say that might be ‘nothing changes if YOU don’t change.’ Nothing will be different if you just keep looking at it the same way. You can’t just keep doing the same things over and over but expect different results. You’ve used walnuts for so long that you can’t even see all the things in life that are enjoyable – all the things that you can touch, taste, smell, see and hear. All you experience is all your life will ever be, so you want to experience as many good new people, places and things as you can. Live life and love life!”
With that the owl smiled and said “So my friend, accept and forgive your past, but don’t accept your future. It is NOT a given! You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. Learn to live and enjoy your life and everything there is to enjoy about life in the present, all about today. Use all of your understanding to seek out and help those who feel like you used to feel – frightened and alone and needing help.”
After his talk with the owl and what the owl taught him, Ploppy learned to celebrate each daily victory over walnut use by applauding himself and to keep pressing on. Endurance was developing his strength of character and character was strengthening his hope! He learned to only live for today, in the present. He decided that what happened yesterday was useless except to learn from and there was no point in worrying about tomorrow – he let tomorrow worry about itself. He prepared for tomorrow, but found that worrying about it did nothing. Ploppy planned for tomorrow and he still had hopes and dreams, but he was no longer devastated or filled with anxiety when something happened in life that changed those things. He found that it was better to be willing to change his plans, his hopes and his dreams as things in life change and not to have all-or-nothing thinking anymore.
Ploppy now began to like himself. He felt better about himself than he ever had. He thought about what the owl said about how the crows may be respected, but they were not warm or insightful or comforting. But EVERYONE loves rabbits! And there were tons of rabbits out there, and a few white ones too so he didn’t have to feel alone. But also that there was only ONE Ploppy. He started to be proud to be a white rabbit and proud of HIMSELF for fighting through all of the difficulties that he had fought through in his life.
Then Ploppy set out on a journey to find out about his real family and their story. He discovered who his real mother and father were. He found out he had half sisters and got to meet them! They weren’t white like he was, but at least they were rabbits too! They told him all about their mother and their childhoods. He learned that his mother had come home one day with his sisters when they were very young and found that their father had died from walnut abuse. They told him how they had to move in with their grandfather who had a horrible addiction to walnuts and became violent and abusive when he ate them. They told him how his mother was sad and lonely and began to eat walnuts herself to cope with all of this and how she had a brief affair with his father and became pregnant with Ploppy. They told him how she didn’t want him raised in such a terrible place without a father, with an abusive walnut-addicted grandfather and how she went to huge lengths and great expense to find a perfect tree to leave him by so he would be raised by someone who would take better care of him. He found out that his real mother had not abandoned him at all, but that she was a WONDERFUL mother who loved him dearly and made a huge, painful sacrifice to give him up so that he would have a chance to live a different life.
With his new discovery of what a marvelous mother he had and the huge sacrifice she had made to help him, he thought about how the owl told him to help others who might be frightened, alone and needing help. So he began to help others who had addiction to walnuts or other things and who had past trauma that was hurting them on the inside. He discovered how good it feels to help other people. He remembered how cool it used to feel to jump when he was a little rabbit. But now he wasn’t just jumping, he was leaping. Even higher than crows could fly.
Copyright © 2018 by Chip Schaller
All rights reserved.