Everyone has a story. Actually, I think it would be fair to say, we all have one BIG STORY, and lots of smaller stories. These stories become the ongoing reality called our life.
As people who are in recovery from substance abuse, we face many challenges. The body, especially the brain, must be supported and healed by things like good nutrition and exercise. Good sleep patterns must be restored. Social support systems must be established with friends, family, therapists, and groups like AA or NA.
All of these things are very important.
However, one need that is just as important seems to get little attention: the need for recovering addicts to create a New Story.
First, we must begin to identify with a new BIG STORY. This story does not need to center on our descent into trouble with one or more addictive substances. However, a new BIG STORY will not serve and support us if it is not honest. Honesty requires a long hard look at our addiction and all that it entailed. Therefore, our new Big Story must include the details of our drinking and/or drugging periods. It needs to embrace the things we enjoyed and the things we regret from those days. We have been touched and changed in some way by all of them.
Second, a thorough review of our “long ago” past will help to give the new story proper perspective. We need to spend time thinking about our childhood, schooling, family life and any other background details that are relevant to our thinking and feelings. We may be far removed in both time and location from these parts of our life, but they live within us in some way to this very day.
Third, the new BIG STORY needs a future, a wonderful future! The whole point of creating a new story is to have new goals and a road map to the happy and fulfilled life that we all seek. There is no need to be unrealistic here. The future story can, and probably should, begin with small, measurable steps and build to a grand outcome. What are the things that we always dreamed of doing? Where are the places we always dreamed of visiting? Who is the person that we always dreamed of being?
A newly, and carefully, created BIG STORY will provide us with ongoing motivation to stay the course. Our new story becomes an internal support system that is with us at all times.
In future posts we will explore in greater detail the process of creating a new story. Until then let’s keep celebrating a happy and sober life!