“When you are really ill, you don't even know a snake when you see one. Once recovery begins, you see a snake and you know it's a snake, but you still play with it. Once you've landed in true recovery zone, you see a snake you know it's a snake, and you cross to the other side of the road."
All due respect to Ms. Williamson, but I believe there is a step missing in her analogy.
For me, at least, there is a step between not knowing the snake and knowing the snake but playing with it anyway. There is a time when you see the snake, know it is snake, but you have to pick it up. You know what a horrible thing it is, but you have no control, no choice. Your mind understands it is a snake and that the snake is dangerous; however, your heart cannot grasp that there is evil in the snake.
You heart NEEDS that snake to be something good because it has seen so many things fall to hopelessness. One more loss will cause you to lose all hope in life. So while your mind is screaming, “NO!!! It is a snake!!” your heart, which has more power, causes you to reach for the snake and embrace. You know that you heart is cracked so deeply that one more hit will break it apart. You need something, even if it is a snake, to save you. You need something to wrap you up and hold you together.
Not until you know in your heart of hearts: the core of your being, that in order to heal and become whole again, you must have enough faith to fall apart completely. You have to watch everything you have built fall to ruins at your feet before you can rebuild. You have to shatter in order to heal. Once you grasp this, you can choose to play with the snake or to walk away. Until you reach that point, however, your heart still believes the snake can save you.