By: C. W. Stratton
What Story Are You Telling? Is It a “Script”?
“I would rather be damned by my honesty than caged by my lies.” ~Omega Maverick
Some people travel, meeting to meeting, telling their story each time there’s an opportunity to share. Those who are listening may say, “I’ve heard his/her story many times.” Some go through the fellowships carrying the “script.”
The “script” is the story we choose to tell those around us. Many times, it’s the same story. . . word for word because it’s comfortable and familiar. Better yet, it feels safe. The script has information that we know won’t be too shameful, hurtful, or embarrassing. We conditioned ourselves to stay away from those areas.
Are You Leaving Out Significant Facts?
Think about a time you were watching a movie, and it seemed that pieces were missing or you wanted to see more of what was really going on. I always say, “it’s in the script,” that’s how they tried to portray it, much like our lives. There is so much more, but we only give what we believe will suffice at the time, which leaves people guessing, wondering about us. I don’t mean to imply that you can tell everything at a meeting or even in one sitting, but it’s about being truthful and factual each time and not relying on the “script.”
What Else is Your “Script” Missing?
The “script” protects us; that’s why we use it, but we are missing a valuable opportunity to discuss the things that kept us sick. Of course, there are those experiences that we may seek professional help to work through. Still, there are those experiences that we can share that would allow people to know us better and to understand what we struggled with in our addictions. There is someone in that same room who struggled, too.
Some may feel they’ve told their total truth over the years. If we were to look deeper within, well below the surface, we can still see untold truths of our experiences.
How Much Truth? Too Little, Too Much, or Just Right?
How much truth becomes the obstacle and a stumbling block that we will carry with us along the way. Getting to a point in our recovery, which requires rigorous honesty, is frightening. As I look back on my own experiences, I had to do a thorough assessment. In recovery, we look within to find the exact nature of our behaviors and activities.
Some people are hesitant, falsely believing that the inventory is only about identifying actions filled with shame and guilt. As a result, many want to bury the past experiences and begin the new journey from a starting point of their choosing, not from the place where they are building their foundation.
In a fairly done inventory,many people find some valuable gifts and insights about themselves as well. Picking and choosing this highly critical part of the process can be devastating.
What Won’t You Tell in Your “Script”?
Our experiences in the world may be dark, scary, and even painful. However, we should come to a place of opening those doors with the help of our supporters to get a better perspective of where we were, where we are, and where we’re headed. Not everyone’s experiences are dark, scary, and painful.
Those who haven’t experienced those still need to see how their past experiences may have led to destructive and deviant expenses associated with addiction.
My discrepancy appeared like this: “You consistently engaged in destructive and life-threatening behaviors, where everyone one could see, but you are having difficulty verbalizing what you’ve engaged in.”
This created such conflict and barriers to my personal recovery that it took a lot of courage, honesty, and sincere willingness to change to overcome this obstacle. This may seem like a simple or even small block for some, but it’s like attempting to climb Mount Everest; it looks too vast and dangerous for many.
Getting Comfortable with All of the Story
Coming to grips with what we’ve experienced or done during our dangerous journey brings a sense of peace and freedom once we get there. As we all know, the goal is Freedom. This freedom isn’t just from addiction, but freedom from our destructive thought patterns as well. During active addiction, we presented with such courage and not fearing anything we met:
- Committed Crimes
- Drank and drove despite knowing the law and dangers
- Hurt Family
- Incarcerated for periods
- Placed trust in those who were out to harm us
- Used substances without knowing what they contained
Now that we’ve entered the recovery process, we’ve become fearful of discussing the circumstances of our addiction. We pick apart those experiences and recreate them to our liking due to our need to be accepted by others. Part of the reason many of us engaged in destructive and addictive behaviors was due to the need to fit in somewhere. We are now faced with the same feelings and desires to be accepted; in the recovery process.
Will They Accept My Authentic Story?
Some may say, “If I tell the truth of myself, I will be looked down upon and not fit it.” As a result of this thinking, we sit back and watch others before opening up. We want to be sure we are accepted, and we modify our stories, so we are, which hinders our personal recovery because it’s inevitable that the very truths we try to bury or purposely leave out of our story will surface at a time when we may not be ready to deal with the fallout.
It’s like the ex-spouse you felt you’ve gotten over and haven’t seen in a while. The feelings you had for this person were true and intense. One day you’re in the supermarket, and you come face-to-face with this person. Despite the time you’ve been apart, a host of emotions and feelings emerge.
You are totally vulnerable and unprepared for this encounter, which may mean you didn’t work through the issues surrounding the break-up. You may have buried the experience and created the “script” as if all is well. We are well aware of our experiences in the world.
Tearing Up the “Script”
Some of us may be ashamed of the things that we’ve engaged in, but we must come to the point of resolve if we are to recover. Some need professional help, as previously stated. However, we must have solid supports around us consisting of people who genuinely want to help us; without judgment. I’m aware of the difficulty of connecting with people when you are new to the process, but it’s essential. Just as quickly as we spoke to the bartender, liquor store owner, or drug dealer, we must have the same drive and commitment to recovery and to life.
The things we’ve done in the past do not manifest who we are as people. We are resourceful, creative, and imaginative people who should use these qualities to improve our lives.
We can always tear up the old “script” and rewrite it with more substance and conviction to the process.
Bio: Craig W. Stratton MS, ASCAS
Craig is an Adjunct Professor at Hudson Valley Community College. He brings his personal experience of 22 years in recovery and his education to his students, ensuring that the next generation of substance abuse counselors understand the knowledge of addiction, but more importantly, know a representative of the addicted population.
Bringing this human element to his classes, he advocates for recovery and, through his teaching and actions, will help remove the stigmas and myths associated with faceless addicts.
Combining his passions with a purpose is one of his goals. He has worked to help marginalized populations understand their addictions and introduce them to the benefits of recovery as a Case Manager for the homeless and those in the Drug Treatment Court.
He has also counseled adolescents, adults, and couples over the last 14 years in various agencies and worked extensively on Alternatives to Incarceration to incorporate treatment and not incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
Follow Craig on Social Media and His Site
Guest Post Submissions Can Help Someone Heal
Are you ready to tell your authentic story of addiction and recovery? It can help someone overcome their addiction and find healing; that’s the beauty of recovery stories.
Consider a guest post today. Here are the guidelines.