Are you brave and honest with others? Do you say what they want to hear? Or Do you say exactly what you want to say? “Finding my voice” and “Speaking my truth” are phrases we often hear in the recovery rooms, but how can you get there after feeling overwhelmed and silenced? Let’s say you’ve been reacting to really hurtful and possibly dangerous crisis situations, but haven’t dared to speak what you really think and feel? What if you don’t know what you want and have low self esteem. Let’s say someone is under the influence, or just plain being manipulative or toxic? We all need tools to manage ourselves while still saying what needs to be said. Easy. No. Necessary for recovery? A big resounding yes. Here are 5 steps I use.
In order to find your voice, first slow down and breathe. For me, in the past, my brain was so busy telling me what I should be that I couldn’t relax and be myself. Before recovery, we live with a lot of denial and lies. We’re also used to swallowing our pain and not daring to tell the truth, or responding with hair-trigger rage that doesn’t achieve a positive result. It’s a basic communication fact that no one can listen to you when you’re yelling. Also no one can know what you feel or want when you’re silent. In step one, it’s crucial to take some time whenever someone asks a tough question of you, or you need to respond to a real, or emotional crisis. Just breathe. If you need to deliver an answer that’s difficult for someone to hear (like no, that won’t work for me), you can buy time for yourself by saying; “I will get back to you on that.” No matter what you face, you will do better if you process an appropriate response.
Know What You Want
How many of us really know what we want or would dare to share? Having lived a life not knowing what I wanted for decades, I needed some practice to be able both to recognize my truth and to speak my truth. Now, after slowing down, I ask myself one question,” What do YOU want, Madeline? I have to take stock, not with what should I do, or what does God want me to do, or even what is the right thing to do. Rather, I ask what do I want. I wait patiently for an answer, all the while pretending there are no consequences to my answer. This gives me freedom to choose what I will say to speak my truth when the time is right. While I may not get what I want at the very least I know what I want. If you don’t know what you want, this is your second step. Ask yourself for a real and true answer. What do you want to achieve?
Find Safe People
I also take valuable insight from people I trust and begin the next phrase which is step 3: processing with a safe person. This may seem unnecessary, but when your self worth has been deeply affected, having a safe person help you process what is in your best interest becomes vital. I often need others to reaffirm my self worth when I am struggling to find my voice. People who are dealing with bullies or manipulators or people who have lost their ability to be reasonable often have experienced destructive conditioning that has to be overcome. So find safe people to guide you. Do you know who the safe people are in your life? Here are the safe people in my life:
- Safe Friends in Al-Anon
- My Sponsor
- My Daughters
- My Therapist
With these people I share my thoughts and process what would happen if I actually asked for what I wanted. While I may still be afraid to tell other people in my life my truths, or deal with the crisis, at least I am closer to knowing what is best for me. So be sure to find and consult with the people you know are safe for you.
Speaking My Truth
After I process my thoughts, feelings, and realities with another person, or people, I am prepared to return an answer or deal with the crisis. In the beginning trying to be truthful without being hurtful took a lot of practice. It took courage to even force the words out of my mouth. But with practice and lots of encouragement from my support team I became better at speaking my truth to others, even the bullies in my life. Your truth has value, but hidden under a basket keeps you under wraps and you’ll probably not get what you want. I began my journey by speaking the truth in safe relationships and built up my courage to face the unsafe ones as I gained confidence in myself.
Being Patient With Yourself
Recovery isn’t easy. I have learned it takes time, courage, and others supporting me, to heal from the effects of another’s substance use and the family issues and behaviors that go along with it.Think denial, lies, manipulation, crisis. They’re a lot of collateral damage. Alcohol Use Disorder (Alcoholism) was present in my life for over 30 years and it will take time to regain all the parts of me that were harmed. I give myself a great deal of empathy and encouragement as I struggle to be honest and valued in all my relationships.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop