There is incredible power in sharing one’s story. There are various characters that are part of the story. The settings and plot change. There is a beginning, middle, and end as well as elements of conflict and resolution. Our stories are not over yet and we get to be the narrators. Some stories are easier to share with others. Some stories are told over and over while others may never be shared.
When it comes to recovery, it can be hard to know how to talk to friends, family, or co-workers. How do I talk about my story? It takes vulnerability and courage to open up and share an intimate part of one’s self. Brené-Brown explains the difference between vulnerability and oversharing in her book “Daring Greatly”.
She writes, “Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging…” Brown adds, “Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them”. As a therapist, I feel honored to listen to stories of one’s recovery journey.
In relationships, it is important to have a foundation of mutual trust established for emotional safety. It can start by being honest with oneself and others about how your day is really going, being mutually supportive in the daily struggles of life and creating space that feels safe to talk about topics in which there may be a fear of judgement. It can then extend to taking more of a risk sharing information related to a more vulnerable area such as one’s recovery or struggles with mental illness.
Family, friends, and co-workers may not understand or respond by giving unwanted advice. Setting a boundary and sharing educational resources may be helpful to help educate others. Ideally, family, friends, and co-workers are taking active steps to be educated around substance use disorders. National Recovery-Month is a great time to raise awareness and get talking (if you want). Accessing people and spaces that feel safe and supportive such as a sponsor, loved one who is also in recovery, or support group is a great place to start.
There may be opportunities to share with family as part of recovery programs such as with making amends or utilizing family supports. Working with a professional can help facilitate communication and set boundaries around what is communicated. Timing is important. One does not need to share their entire story, nor all the details. You get to choose if and what you share about your recovery journey with others.
If you are not yet connected to recovery peer support, here are some options to check out:
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