Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The Healing in Sharing Our Stories

"I see you" initiates the meaningful response "I am here". This traditional Zulu greeting speaks to the importance of knowing that we are seen and heard; that we care about the hearts of others and are there for them. It goes a lot deeper than a quick "How are you?" followed by an automatic "Good". One of the hardest things for me when my mom passed away is that I felt no one cared about my heart as much as she did. I had to be vulnerable and trust those I loved to fill the void; to say "I see you and I am here". 

The healing that comes from sharing our stories.

Why is it so important to share what is in our hearts and minds? What is the power in our stories?

In The Awakened Woman,Tererai Trent talks about stories as a “beautiful cross-pollination of lessons to teach and strengthen each other. It allows us to heal and work towards our best future."  Did you catch all the reasons in there? Teaching. Strengthening. Healing. Working towards our best future. I knew I could develop my understanding of the inner workings of individuals by listening to what they had to say but I had not really thought about the healing powers. Telling our stories to those that care is real medicine as it turns off stress and releases healing hormones. Have you felt that relief in sharing what is on your heart with someone that you trust? Oh, does it feel good – along with a dose of vulnerability in hoping that they will cherish what you have shared.

I reflect on some of the stories that I have told online such as being a motherless mom, the struggle of being a 12-year-old and my greatest goal in life. They have allowed me to work towards healing as they were well received. They were read and commented on and shared. It was meaningful and I could continue healing through the process of writing but also in the reception and knowledge that I was heard and validated. Other people have shared their intimate stories here as well from a journey with vulvodynia to an autism diagnosis to postpartum preeclampsia.

There are many stories that I have not made public; likely they involve those that I love and are not mine to tell publicly. I am thankful for the trustworthy friends and family in my life that I can connect with and confide in face-to-face. One of my greatest struggles in fostering is having to keep numerous feelings to myself. I wish I could process with others; I need to work through emotions and it feels like I'm going against my heart by keeping it all in. I have shared some safe topics like having to say goodbye but keeping stories in can be painful.
"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." – Zora Neale Hurston 
When we hear someones story we can take it as an opportunity to learn about them and life and thereby increase our empathy. Through listening whole-heartedly we are helping them to heal. I recently taught my 11-year-old son an empathetic response as he liked to use well-meaning silver linings and there is a danger in that. He will now listen and then say thoughtfully "That sounds really hard" –  it's amazing the difference that it makes in our daily conversations.

"A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself." – Maya Angelou

I want to feel fully confident in who I am; to say to myself "You are enough. Be you." and usually I do feel that way. What has helped me to get there? Along with a strong support system and foundation in my life (and four decades under my belt), it is in part by telling my story. Whether I write it publicly or share it confidentially with a friend in real life, it helps to heal my wounds and deal with those insecurities. We are not alone.

A powerful thought shared by Tererai Trent speaking to success stories of other women is that we need to ensure that we do not see it as a threat to us – they are not our competition. We should utilize what they have shared to inspire us. This is true in so many facets from parenting to health to finances and work opportunities; we are not competitors, we are motivating one another.

So, here I am telling you that it feels good to share what is in your heart – your past, present and future dreams. Tell your stories to heal. To inspire. To connect. Whether online or in real life, find a safe place and take that vulnerable step and know what it feels to share a story. We aren't meant to do this alone. As included in the book The Awakened Woman:

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb


What are the benefits to sharing our stories face-to-face and/or online?

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