2nd Edition, Revised Material

Principle – Reframing My Story

We all have “our” story. Most of us don’t know exactly how it came about, but come about it did.

Think of the last time, after meeting someone new, how you answered the rather generic question: “Tell me about yourself.” When you answer that question, you are telling your story. Of course, it will change depending on who (and the circumstances) is asking. You will answer differently if you are on a first date, on a job interview, or answering that question when asked by a pastor.

But the critical elements of your story will remain relatively constant.

However, as I began to think about this topic, I was brought back to the utter transformation I underwent as I was immersed in full and unconditional acceptance from grizzled old men in my first AA meetings. It was an acceptance of ALL of me just as i was. I had never experienced that in my family of origin nor anywhere else. The hope I felt was palpable. With those old men I was absolutely honest – no, nada, nil pretense. The God I called my Higher Power for a long time was based on an acronym from the words: Group Of Drunks. I have stayed sober ever since.

My story was changing as I was changing. I learned to tell my story as often as I could, while continuing to change it to bolster my weaknesses. If I am nervous about how a problem might resolve itself, I remind myself – by embellishing my past experiences of successful problem-solving – that all is under control and will be resolved in a manner that is beneficial for the good of all.

Pretty soon a little of that embellishment will work itself into my story permanently. Is that cheating? Outright lies are, of course. But my changing story is for me to remind me that the loser/black-sheep/inept/no-confidence/no-life-skills guy is no longer who I am. My evolving story has helped my sobriety as well as the quality of my serenity.

Today, when asked “Tell me about yourself” I no longer answer with the bloody gory details of how this loser/black-sheep/inept/no-confidence/no-life-skills guy became me. I answer: I now know God and I know He isn’t me. I have experienced the transformative miracle of acceptance, love and support of a power greater than myself. I then provide the details of my life that led me to know that I am an already-loved eternal consciousness/spirit currently having a human experience.

Recently I saw the video of the movie that featured the meeting of the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The Dalai Lama suggested Tutu offer himself support by reframing his story. Do not focus on remembering and retelling how awful you were treated (your victimhood) but rather how your awful treatment strengthened you and taught you to get you where you are today. If it’s okay for the Dalai Lame to reframe a story, then it’s okay for me to do that as well.

My book, although historically sound, is written from the perspective of the spiritual transformation that I found in AA but could not articulate, except through the telling of this new and still evolving story of mine. This transformation has provided me with an experiential spiritual faith as opposed to a faith/belief in religious dogma.

Donald L. O'Dell
October 18, 2023

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