Everyone’s story matters, and yours is no different. Some stories are happy, others are sad, and yet others can be simply amazing or truly tragic. As humans, we have been blessed with a unique ability to communicate, but as we have evolved as a species, we have come to rely on it. Sharing our experiences, good and bad, helps us to process them. When the experiences were negative, sharing them helps us to heal.
That’s not to say that you should tell everyone everything about your life and simply be an open book. But find an outlet. Ask someone you most trust if they will take some time to listen to your story. If there’s something significant you haven’t ever shared before in your life, you might be surprised how good it feels to get it off your chest.
Not everything is always easy, but when I was in denial about my own set of adverse childhood experiences, it almost never was. Sharing my story has helped me to heal in a significant way.
When you are the one on the listening end, don’t pass judgment. Just be there to listen, to empathize. If it’s something that has been bottled up for a long time, it’s going to be scary for the person telling it. I know it was for me when I first told my wife that I was sexually abused by an older brother when I was growing up. I couldn’t believe I actually said it out loud. I thought I was going to die.
But time passed, and I was eventually able to tell someone else. After time and a good amount of therapy, I feel like a lot of healing has taken place for me. I now feel strong and empowered, and I share my story regularly through my writing and speaking. Why? Because I know where I was, and how scary it was for me. And if I can help others know that they can share their own stories and be okay, and gain strength and heal, I feel like I need to do that.
On the receiving end, it makes me feel good when someone shares their story with me—something they’ve never told anyone else. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. They have either heard me speak, or they’ve read my stories, and they feel like it’s safe. And I honor that. I listen and I empathize, and I am careful not to react or judge. Above all, it’s their story, and I know it’s not okay to share it with anyone else. That’s a critical element of sharing such personal information.
When I look back at my life, I sometimes can’t believe how far I’ve come. Not everything is always easy, but when I was in denial about my own set of adverse childhood experiences, it almost never was. Sharing my story has helped me to heal in a significant way. I’m not sure where I would be if I chose to keep it all bottled up. But I wouldn’t be where I am, that I can guarantee. I encourage you to take that first small step, whatever it may be.
Share your story.