What do you think when someone says tell me a story? Does it conjure up images of beasts and princesses? Maybe it’s a little more personal. A time when you laughed so hard you cried, or cried so hard you laughed. Chances are it’s a moment. Just a moment, that made an impression in your brain.
But what do you say when someone asks you to tell them your story. Where would you start? And how do you want it to end?
In 12-step programs you’ll hear people’s stories a lot. Where they were born, what their families were like, and most importantly about their addiction. How it started, where it took them, and the struggle to get and stay sober.
In the rooms nothing is taboo. All of the things you can’t tell anyone come out. Suicide attempts, child abuse, sex, and mental health. Nothing is off the table. No story is too dark, scary, or painful to tell. As they say, secrets make you sick.
I’ve heard a woman share the story of running over a child while drunk, a man who spent years in jail for a crime he can’t even remember committing, and multiple people sharing about living on the streets.
Sound bleak? It isn’t. Those stories all come with a message of hope. And often, believe it or not, laughter. The people telling them are no longer in deep, dark places. Recovery has helped them see a light. They keep talking about it and it just gets brighter. They keep telling their story.
It’s not easy. It gets easier. As cliché as it sounds telling your story just takes practice. It’s important. Words have power. Keep them inside and the words own you. Speak your truth and you get the power back. Again: YOU get the power back. Letting other people see that could change their life. It will change yours.
The nice thing about a recovery meeting is you get to start slow. No one is going to walk up to at your first meeting demanding to know everything, down to your social security number. They will ask your name and maybe where you’re from. After the meeting starts you may have to introduce yourself “Hi my name is and I’m an alcoholic.” That’s it.
The start to a story.