Storytelling

A vital link between the history of Twelve-Step groups and spirituality is the AA-style personal story. When addicts tell “what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now,” (from Alcoholics Anonymous, 1976, p. 58) they carry the wisdom of recovery in the time-honored tradition of all the great spiritual leaders.

Why tell your story Visitors to AA often comment that it is hard to understand why alcoholics would want to remember the pain of their life before recovery. Without this storytelling, alcoholics would quickly lose the benefit of what is usually the most expensive education they have ever had.

Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said that life must be lived forward but it can only be understood backward. The wisdom of the journey from addiction into recovery makes possible a spiritual awakening, not only for the listener, but for the storyteller as well.

The addict’s story is not an untruth (like the “story” we got punished for telling as a child) or even a myth, which has a kind of universal truth but does not come from one person’s real life. It is not a “drunkalog.” The best kind of story is one that comes from the heart, with humility and gratitude.


Storytelling, see also: Community, History of Twelve-Step Groups, Meetings, Traditions of AA.

Updated 1 Oct 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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