Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

How I Read What You Write

All human hearts know the same truth. All we writers do is bring those memories back to life.” ~ Roxana Jones

I love this quote because I write a lot. Sometimes I write based on what I feel and sometimes I write because I don’t know what I feel. Mostly I write because by doing so, I’m able to get to know myself better. Somewhere between my brain and my hand, a transformation happens. The solution I can’t just think my way to find will somehow flow though my pen onto paper or through my keyboard onto the screen.

In the beginning of my recovery journey I was taught the best course of action when thoroughly confused by a life situation, is to defer to someone who knows me better than I know myself and/or take time to be of service for someone else. I was told, and now thoroughly agree, these are two profoundly helpful was to give my brain a break from trying to fix myself. Over the years I’ve incorporated yoga into my life which while doing, I get quiet and listen for some inner knowledge to help me better understand what I may be struggling with. However there are times when even after I’ve tried all these options, the awareness just doesn’t filter in.

Yet when I flip open my laptop to write a blog post or grab a pen to fill my journal, invariably I’ll find myself experiencing a shift in my perspective about whatever is bothering me. Sometimes what I uncover is so extraordinary I’ve been known to shout out loud, “Oh my God, now I get it!” In this state of revelation I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned.

I’ll either pick up the phone to talk with one of my like-minded friends or I’ll write something to post within an online recovery community. I know from experience how much I’m helped by hearing or reading about what others experience as they grow and shift and change.

I’ve been using the option to connect via the written word for a while now. The more I do, the more I’m aware of the fact that even though I share a common connection with those in my recovery circles, not everyone fully knows me or my history or my personal nuances. Yes, they can relate to a topic or a situation I describe but they don’t have any practical experience with hearing my voice or seeing my body language through the words I write.

Without a personal connection or a thorough understanding of my past, there is no way to know what else might have been going on, or has gone on, to provide further background to what I write about. The reader doesn’t have the sound of my voice or the image of my facial expressions as they read my words so instead they resonate by way of their experiences, provoking their memories and the associated emotions.

This very thing happened recently, not due to something I had written but what a friend of mine had read elsewhere. She called me terribly upset after reading something written by someone she only knew via a few electronic communications. She identified her very strong reaction to what she’d read as feeling fearful for the writer’s next action step. After we talked thought that fear, a clarity came to my friend about how she interpreted the words was not so much about the writer as about something she herself had struggled with in the past.

From that conversation I learned something very important about this social media age we live in. The more our society relies on communicating via the written word (blogs, texts, email, etc.), the higher the propensity to misinterpret the message. We’re connecting faster with fewer words which can easily lead to false conclusions and mass confusion.

If what I read sparks an immediate emotion, I need to stop and ask myself, “What is arising within me right now? Since I already know I can’t rely on what’s rolling around in my head, I need to make a phone call like my friend did, get to a meeting of fellow recovering folks or simply grab my pen and start writing.

Simply put, I’m better off relating to what someone else has written by not recreating my past to do so.
Has this happened to you? Have you read something that sparked an old emotional wound? If so, share that experience here by replying with a comment.

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