I had an interesting experience last night that I thought I’d share about today. I was asked to speak at a lecture series run by an organization called PRO-ACT (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization-Achieving Community Together), which is an advocacy and recovery support initiative. My lecture was a compilation of the series I wrote on this blog, found in the category labelled Twelve Steps in Everyday Living, in case you are interested.
Here are the reasons why last night was unique. First, I have never done anything quite like it before. In AA, I have been asked to share my story multiple times, and of course that has certain anxieties associated with it, but this felt a lot different. I guess when I am telling someone my life story, there is no room for opinion or rebuttal. It’s not like someone is going to stand up and say, “No, I don’t agree that you lived like that!” Whereas in presenting my writing, there is room for criticism, or dissenting opinion, or complete disinterest (I guess, now that I think about it, there could be complete disinterest in my life story, but so far I have not encountered it!).
Another difference is the audience. In AA, I feel at home, and I believe that at the heart of it we are all the same. In this room of about 50, I have no idea who is really present, because it is open to the public. For all I know TMZ was there recording me so they could make fun of me on that night’s broadcast (I sincerely hope everyone knows me well enough to know that I am joking!). Yes, I do put my writing and opinion out there for the blogging world to see, but there is certainly more anonymity in sitting at my home computer than there is standing at a podium in front of live human beings.
So, I definitely had serious butterflies going into the evening. I arrived, and found I would be the second of the two scheduled speakers… whew! I have some time to relax. I sat through the first speaker, ironically enough the subject was mindfulness, that poor woman certainly had at least one audience member completely unable to stay in the present! There was a break, and the hosts were setting up my power point presentation, and…
In walked my husband, who rushed as quickly as he could from our daughter’s basketball game to come and support me. Such a beautiful moment, and I thanked him immediately, but also said I would be able to give more genuine gratitude once my lecture was finished. We’re chit-chatting, in an attempt to calm my frayed nerves, and the thought occurred to me…
I am going to share my story in front of my husband!
Now, true enough, the majority of this lecture is material he has already read, but the first 5-10 minutes of it was my qualification, why I have the right to be standing in front of these people and discussing the 12 steps of recovery. To qualify myself, I need to give the highlights, or, rather, lowlights, of my active addiction, and the consequences of it. Ye Gads, I thought I was nervous before this thought, that was nothing compared to what I was feeling now!
And then I mentally reviewed all that I was going to cover. Am I revealing any new truths? Nope. Covering ground that hadn’t yet been covered by us as a couple? Again, no. Am I, at the heart of it all, speaking my own personal truth, and am I willing to stand by what I am saying? That’s a big Hell Yeah!
So I took a deep breath, and, as those marketing geniuses at Nike would say… I just did it. And I got through it, without embarrassing myself in any way (that I am aware of). And no one ran out of the room screaming, no one fell asleep in their chairs (that I am aware of), so I guess I will call it a success. But for me, the biggest takeaway, I will list below…
That I can tell my story, I can share my real self, and my husband tells me that he has never been prouder of me… that is a real miracle.