Recovery and Why the Best Parts of Your Story are the Sh**y Parts

Has your story gotten the best of you? I doubt it.

___

Your life is not defined by the words that you say, nor are you the sum of your thoughts. What defines you is the stories that you tell yourself and that other people tell about you.

How many big words do you know? Big words come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are words that are complicated, words that are long, and some words that are both. A few examples:

Big words are also powerful words. Chances are, you know a few powerful words:

  • Addiction
  • Mental illness

Both of these words can lead people to do powerful things, like jump to conclusions, judge, become anxious or even afraid. We can assume the person to be damaged goods, dysfunctional, out of control, strange, dangerous… or otherwise “not like us.” 

The dark parts of your story are nothing more than opportunities to draw others in a little closer.

Words are strung together into sentences, then into paragraphs. Eventually with enough words, we have a story. Some of our stories are short, others are longer and more complex. Some stories are jumbled and confused. Whatever we have, our story is important because it is our own story.

No matter your history, you have a story to tell. I bet it is a good story, because good stories contain suspense, cliff hangers, romance, break ups, desperate moments and triumphs. There are stories that we tell other people and then there are stories that we tell ourselves. Sometimes these are private stories. The stories we tell ourselves might be made of internalized words like damaged goods, dysfunctional, out of control, strange, dangerous or not like other people.

Just like you can get lost in a good book, sometimes your story gets the best of you and you begin to lose yourself.

The interesting thing about stories is that a good narrative will begin dark, difficult and tense. There will be moments where you get lost and others where you see yourself more clearly than ever before. What a good story does is draw the reader in a little closer. The dark parts of your story are nothing more than opportunities to draw others in a little closer.

I came across a concept by Dr. Karen Horney. She presented two ways that we approach the world around us and  the world within ourselves. Simply put, the concept is:

Moving against or Moving away

Moving away is where we push others away. We avoid pain or emotions. We numb ourselves with things like drinking or drugs or depression or routine or work or food. We may back away from people because we are afraid of being taken advantage of, or hurt, or losing ourselves.

Moving against is when we push against other people. We become aggressive, we put others down and judge. We look for opportunities to go to war. This is just a different way to avoid facing our own pain or emotions, or to numb ourselves so that we don’t have to feel.

Your story may contain chapter after chapter marked by addiction, depression, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts. Remember, these events are nothing more than a series of short stories in a larger narrative.

Your story may contain chapter after chapter marked by addiction, depression, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts. You may have times where you moved away from those you care about or even from yourself. You may also have times where you move against them, or against yourself. Remember, these events are nothing more than a series of short stories in a larger narrative.

Your story is bigger.

Because other chapters will tell a different story. You can also move with.

Moving with is where you feel what you feel. You struggle. You find joy. You choose better things. But you don’t push against other people or yourself. You don’t avoid. And you don’t allow yourself to become swallowed up by other people. The difficult parts of your story can be inspiration to draw others in a little closer. And that’s what good stories are about.

A life story is written in chalk, not ink, and it can be changed. Julie Beck

You are not alone. Every day is an opportunity to tell and to retell your story. I hope that you have a place to tell your story. If you would like, send me your story. I’d love to publish it on my blog and help you to have a place to tell others what you have learned and inspire others to overcome. You can join me, just by clicking here.

If you enjoyed this piece, you will want to check out some of my other writing:

How to Change Your Story and Supercharge Your Recovery

11 Lessons for Success in Recovery

Mental Health Stigma is Really Just Undiagnosed Verbal Illness

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

Lastly, if you like my writing, you can click here to vote for my page on Psych Central’s list of mental health blogs.

Keep it Real

Photo by Enrico

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