When it comes to recovery, we all have our reasons for choosing to walk that path. We all have our own methods, systems and tools in place that allow us to make better decisions, one day at a time. Despite these differences, there is one thing we all have in common — telling people the ‘why’ of our recovery decision is inevitably going to happen. The conversation just happens to find its way into your life more and more because either people are curious or nosey.

Nevertheless, you will get better at articulating your “why,” and as you grow through recovery, so will your truth. There are a handful of ways to deliver this news to people — ways in which both parties are left satisfied with the end result.

1. Be Yourself

Being yourself is a requirement for recovery. Whatever led us to addiction was due to toxic behaviors we acquired while being the opposite of who we truly are. You should be proud of the steps you have made to get you to this point — speak proudly about it. You made the choice to go into recovery because you knew that it was going to be the best for YOUR life, and people are curious about that. Never feel that you must hold your truth in because someone else may not be able to handle it. If your reasons for being in recovery trigger someone else, it has nothing to do with you — it may just be that you make them aware of a truth inside of them that they are not ready to face. Regardless, be your most authentic self because this is how we heal.

2. Know That Not Everyone Deserves to Hear Your Story

It is important to remember that you do not owe anyone an explanation or reason for being in recovery. You have the final say in what you decide to share with people, and if someone is not able to listen to your side of the story without jumping in, it is okay to protect yourself with silence. Maybe you are not in the right frame of mind to share, or maybe you sense bad intentions from the receiving end. Whatever the case, be mindful of your energy. You are under no obligation to make others understand you, or what you have been through. Your story is yours and yours only. You do not have to share the details with everyone you meet.

3. Prepare Yourself for Questions

The first time you step out into the world with a big ‘R’ embroidered on your chest, you may feel overwhelmed with questions. Whether they be from strangers, or those in your life just trying to understand you better, you are going to be hit with questions like: “Why are you in recovery?” “Did you really have that big of a problem?” “Is it going to last forever?” and “What do you do for fun now?” Eventually, you will find answers to these questions that get your point across and help others see your side. Remember, you are not trying to change anyone with your own life choices, but your recovery could be contagious in the way that it makes someone else consider their own life.

4. Breathe and Be Patient

Not everything deserves a response, and this is especially important when in recovery. Learning to trust your thoughts is one thing, but voicing them out loud for others to hear is another. When feeling overwhelmed with what to say or wishing you had the perfect words to say it, be patient with yourself. No matter how long you have been in recovery, the process of it is always in a state of new. The way you feel and how you express yourself is constantly changing with recovery — that is what makes the process so beautiful. So, breathe and be patient with yourself and your words. They will come at the right time.

5. Do Not Try to “Save” Anyone

The only person you can save in this world is yourself. Outside of that, all you can do is speak your truth and hope that it speaks to someone who needs to hear it. By sharing your story with those you feel safe around and allowing your truth to help someone else, you are already doing the work that needs to be done.

When you spend time and effort making yourself a better person, those who are ready for that kind of change will tune into what you are offering them. Some may take longer than others, but your journey through recovery is yours and yours alone. Don’t push onto people something they are not ready for. It has never been your job to save anybody else from themselves — make the actions you take in life be the thing that people pay attention to.

There are many challenges one will face when on the path to recovery, one of them being other people. It can be difficult having to explain your situation to someone who seems determined to misunderstand it. It can fill us with frustration and doubt if we allow outside voices to become stronger than our own. We must stand tall in our decision to set ourselves free from substances, and know deep within that we are making the right choice for our life. At the end of the day, it’s your sole decision to let someone in on the truth of your life. Do not feel unnecessary pressure to make yourself understood — just be exactly who you are, put one foot in front of the other and trust what is possible through recovery.