We all have a story to tell. We each have a story of success and suffering and celebration. We all have a series of events in our lives that challenged us or that kept us questioning our lives or that caused us to reach for things we otherwise wouldn’t have reached for. And this might have been the case with drugs and alcohol.
It’s common in support groups to tell your story, to share the events in your life that were challenging. And it’s also common to share how you overcame those obstacles and how you intend to overcome new problems. However, there is something significantly healing when you share you story. There is something incredibly freeing when you finally say out loud what you’ve been struggling with.
Telling your story is healing for you. As just mentioned, you lift the burden of your illness and problems. You provide yourself with some space between you and what you’re going through. Also, there’s a certain feeling of accomplishment, especially if you’ve overcome some major obstacles. When you share your story you can also let the world know what you’ve been through and how you found your way through it.
Telling your story is healing for others too. Sharing your story of addiction is not only therapeutic for you; it’s also a therapeutic experience for others as well. Imagine sharing your experience of an alcohol addiction and what finally led you to stop and get treatment. Your description of that one moment in which you decided to stop drinking can be a life-changing moment for someone listening.
For instance, let’s say you share that you found yourself sleeping on the street one night after your wife kicked you out and your children decided not to see you again. Your feelings of rejection by them and unworthiness along with the fact that you were sleeping outside was the pivotal moment for you. You refused to live that way. You were utterly determined to change your life. The feeling of firm resolution to change the way you were living carried you through the few months when you got treatment, made amends with your family, and finally got sober.
Someone listening to your story and feeling your determination might be inspired. They might suddenly also have a strong impulse to change, to get the support they need, and to get sober, just as you did. But also, it’s often the case that someone sharing their life story might say something in a particular way, something that a listener has wanted to say for a long time but just didn’t know how to do so.
If you’d like to share your personal story or listen to the personal stories of others, with respect to addiction, look for an addiction support group. Support groups are those that include others who have struggled with the same challenge you have. There may or may not be someone who is facilitating the group. However, unlike group therapy, there is not a mental health professional that is providing clinical guidance.
Although the professional guidance might be absent in support groups, they are beneficial for all the reasons mentioned above. As already mentioned, they can provide the opportunity to hear what you may not be able to express yourself. For instance, you might be feeling incredibly sad, and then hear someone in your support group say: “Gosh, it’s been so hard, and I feel so sad that my addiction has harmed so many people I love.” When you hear that, t might feel like a weight has been lifted. Plus, hearing this might give you the freedom to finally say what has been hard for you to express too. And finally being able to say what you couldn’t up until now can be incredibly healing.
Of course, when you share your own story, the same experience can be true for someone else. This is one of the great benefits of community. In a community of others who are struggling with the same life challenge, you and your family can find support, love, friendship, and safety.
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