I’m letting go tonight.
Sharing your story is something I encourage people to do on a daily basis—but I have a difficult time grasping what that looks like for myself.
My past is something I will never be entirely comfortable with. Only a few people truly know the struggles I have faced, and I’ve been OK with that. While our stories are something we should share, they are also sacred.
Still, this idea of being open and honest is something I strive to do, and it is something I want others to do as well. It just has taken me a little bit longer to figure out the balance of letting people into my story while also protecting it.
Thunder rumbling, castles crumbling, I am trying to hold on.
When I began my internship in January, I knew I needed to step outside of my comfort zone and open up to people, but I still wasn’t ready to share all of my story—the part I don’t think I will ever be comfortable sharing with everyone. So I saved it, kept it for myself, and continued to carry its weight around with me.
And now it’s clear to me, that everything you see ain’t always what it seems.
One night, I finally found my voice. I was sitting with Caitlin, talking about the opportunity we were given at TWLOHA and the bravery of the people who write to us. And it made me finally realize I needed to share with her.
I was so scared. It takes so much courage to be able to talk about the struggles and demons we have faced in the past. But, at the same time, it is so freeing. I know people have misperceived me, have just assumed I live a life full of joy and happiness. And I have. But I have also struggled, I have also felt worthless, and I have also felt pain.
After I was done talking, Caitlin told me the words we tell people everyday, but this time they carried new meaning: “Your past does not define you, but it has played a part in the person you are today.”
I picked up every piece and landed on my feet. I’m wide awake.
A few weeks later at an event, we were handed a random questionnaire to help some psychology students finish their research. I opened the packet and was completely caught off guard. The questions felt so personal and invasive, I immediately wanted to give it back. But Caitlin surprised me. She looked at me and asked, “Are you OK?”
Was I? No, not at that moment, but I knew I would be. Had she not known what I have faced, I don’t think I would have made it through that day. Bringing back memories and reliving things you would rather forget is not something anyone wants to do. But having someone there, knowing she knew me, made it so much easier. She gave me the strength, the courage, and the grace I needed in that moment.
I am born again, out of the lion’s den. I don’t have to pretend.
The idea of sharing your story, owning what you have struggled with, and finding a person to share it with is something I take to heart, now more than ever before. But cherishing your story and saving it for people who truly matter to you is something to keep in mind as you seek healthy ways to open up to people. It reminds you just how important it really is.
My struggles do not define me, but they have undoubtedly played a part in my story—however I choose to share it.
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