The only truth we will ever find is in our stories. We are our stories. Recovery demands we pay attention to what our stories have to tell us.
Want the best insights on recovery? Look at your own story. Paying attention to your life is the best addiction and recovery education possible. Theory is good, but experience is the only proof. The purpose of our stories is awareness of a new design for living
Needless to say, my life changed drastically when I embraced sobriety and sought a spiritual design for living.
Presence of Spirit.
I have heard or felt the presence of a spirit in my life. Not necessarily of any one person or of God. Such as the time I meditated at the open casket of Pepe, my stepfather, and heard “you are okay, just keep doing what you are doing”. Or, over the course of my life before sobriety, there were many times I experienced “shoulder taps”, the Spirit trying to get my attention to make better choices.
Low spiritual self-esteem keeps us from seeing the purpose and opportunity of our own story. It is the belief that everyone else’s story is full of courage, wonder, and beauty, but not our own. It fails to recognize that The Power of the Universe and its’ Energy is as active and powerful in our lives as in others. This lack of faith blocks us from seeing the truth we need to move forward in our recovery.
We must find our truth.
The “Truth”, of course, comes in different flavors. One type of truth is intellectual and abstract, while another is lived and specific. We must all find and follow our “Truth” about recovery as it plays out in our own lives, or we will forever be running to others, hoping they can deliver us from the uncertainty we find within. Not that sharing with others isn’t helpful, it is. Motivation and Mindfulness guide us to awareness and open us to feeling our story. Most of have lived in denial of the emotions that come with truth-telling confronting our feelings; experiencing the pain, anger, fear, guilt, happiness and others is difficult. Realizing that we are human, and these shortcomings are part of the human experience allows maturity and growth, without which we can never honestly tell our stories and learn from them.
Our Story is all we have.
It is the raw material we are given to make our existence a thing of beauty. What we have made and can make of those bad times shall be the most glorious of all. We have been there, and we do know our truth. And what we have gained is priceless wisdom earned the only way wisdom is ever earned-by going into the fire to get it. Whatever the feeling the most is gained by getting down in the dirt with it and groveling around. Get to know the good, the bad and the ugly close-up and personal.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is full of stories, guidelines and examples of what to do for those of us seeking a solution to alcoholism. Many times, I have read sections of a paragraph or chapter without understating the message. Usually, it is my focus on relevance, timeliness, or reality of the story or comparing with the character’s shortcomings, that blocks me from comprehending the message. Oftentimes I will get caught up in the language or old references and not hear the message. It benefits my growth if my focus is identifying with the character and not concerning myself with the literal story as much as the message.
A design for living.
Alcoholics Anonymous has the following reasoning, “We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living “that really works.” The more we honestly share about ourselves, the more comfortable the changes we are seeking become.
There is a story from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty that sums up where I hope my journey of awareness through story telling is taking me.
The two main characters are speaking about always being right: It begins with Augustus calling out Call on his worst character defect
“You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all. I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.”
“Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?” Call asked. “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”
“You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it,” Augustus said. “If you come face to face with your own mistakes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day-that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”
We learn by telling our stories from the heart without fear of being judged, we honestly share from a place of comfort with self. We have learned to trust our soul every day.