What is it about stories that make us feel alive? It’s not just in the recovery community; stories are all the rage in marketing and advertising too. It’s the human condition – we yearn for someone to understand us. We feel safer buying from brands that we connect with. If we see others like us doing something, we realize we can do it too. Hearing people talk openly and honestly about their struggles and successes makes them real, relatable, and feasible. It’s that powerful phrase of relief we desire to utter, or have others say back to us, “me too.” There is almost nothing worse than feeling like the only one – the dread of loneliness that so often engulfs those in the throes of addiction, trauma, or abuse. It should be no surprise that sharing a recovery story can change or save a life, or plant the seed of evolution in a complete stranger.
Starting my blog in January of 2014, I was terrified to mention why it was titled The Adventures Of A Sober Señorita. I wasn’t sure if I would ever mention my dark past or the plentiful reasons that got me to my breaking point. That’s why you’ll see that the first 4 months of my blog are posts about my past life living in Mexico, and other platonic things that have nothing to do with sobriety or recovery. When I hit my one-year mark, I wrote my post about my first year living sober and I hesitated to click “publish.” I was scared shitless, but I did it anyway. Mostly because I was looking for someone to say, “me too, Kelly, me too.” It was from that post I learned the power in sharing my story. It didn’t detail my entire recovery story, but you could clearly read my pain, the turning point, my triumph and what I learned during my first year sober. Because of the incredible reaction I received from this article I continue to write about sobriety today and it became the main focus of my blog (which most of you are well aware I’m sure.) Recently, I’ve written my complete recovery story for several websites and continue to do so because I truly believe it is the lifeblood of the recovery movement.
The Power of Storytelling in Addiction Recovery & Advocacy - Panel Discussion
This past weekend I went to Washington D.C. to march on the National Mall with thousands of other people in, or supporting, recovery from addiction. The weekend was a whirlwind and absolutely surreal. I finally met several sober bloggers I've grown to love online, in real life. We hugged, we laughed, we cried, we talked. It was magical. On Saturday night before the big Unite to Face Addiction Rally on Sunday, we gathered for a panel discussion at the Argonaut restaurant in D.C. The panel was arranged by author and editor, Jake D. Parent, as a preface to his new book: Hearts + Scars 10 Human Stories Of Addiction.
Three of the people whose recovery stories are in the book were on the panel that day: myself, Chris Aguirre of Since Right Now, and Nicola O'Hanlon of I Love Recovery Cafe. Jake talked about the phenomenon of storytelling and why he chose to put together this new book. He asked the panelists 3 questions:
- Why did you decide to contribute your story to this collection?
- What role do stories play in your recovery?
- What was the hardest part about telling your story?
I was humbled to be up there with so many great writers and thinkers. We all gave our own answers with a similar theme: telling our stories sets us free and can help others. I think I can safely say we all feel a moral responsibility to share how recovery has worked for us so that others may know it exists. We were also all impacted by keeping secrets about addiction growing up, the subject is often taboo. Lastly, we shared about how our stories that intertwine with family members or close friends are often hard to separate from our own in terms of anonymity. The hardest part about telling our stories may be that not everyone is supportive, but we continue to carry on.
At the end of the panel Jake suggested a fun exercise for the audience members that included each person coming to the microphone and telling their own recovery story in one minute or less. The audience proved to be pros. Everyone anxiously took advantage of their turn, laying it all out there and leaving their impact in one minute. Hearing a bunch of personal short stories was the perfect ending to a discussion about the importance of recovery stories.
Get Your Copy of Hearts + Scars
I'm excited to announce the book was launched this weekend and I am honored to have my recovery story included. It's the most detailed version of my story that I've written to date.
The book is made up of two sections. The first section is a series of short fictional stories written by Jake that portray characters who are suffering through active addiction. The second section is made up of five real stories of recovery, written by those who have experienced the journey themselves - including me!
Thank you Jake for taking the time to read, edit, and put this project together, I very much appreciate it.
You can get your own free copy of Hearts + Scars by downloading it on Smashwords here.
You can also download your copy on Amazon - currently the price is set to .99 cents, a required formality by Amazon. Once Amazon understands that Hearts + Scars is being offered on another site for free (Smashwords) they will lower the price to $0 to match it. It's up to you if you want to want until it's at $0 to download. Also, remember you do not have to have a kindle or eReader to download this book. You can access it on your phone, laptop, tablet, etc using the kindle app or any other eReader app.
Thank you all for your continued support in reading my blogs, articles, and now - book contributions! I hope this will be the first of many. I can't wait to hear what you all think.
To see more photos from Washington D.C. and Unite To Face Addiction click here.