by P. Braithwaite
My childhood friend, Marie, sits beside me on the pavement. We are outside of my parent’s house, getting ready to go back to our respective homes. I didn’t expect to see her, but it’s a nice surprise. She pushes her fiery-red hair out of her face and kicks dried leaves around with her designer sneakers. Our shoulders touch. We joke and laugh a bit – pretending it hasn’t been over a year.
“I didn’t make it to your last birthday party,” I offer when there’s a lull in the conversation. “I was kinda going through a difficult time.”
She drags a leaf across the curb with her foot, and I explain that, while she was planning her party, I was separating from an ex-boyfriend and his complicated drug addiction. I gloss over the details, but I share what she needs to know: it was hard to witness a loved one’s undoing.
She lets me speak, she doesn’t judge, and so I share a little more. I talk about anxiety and subsequent panic attacks. I’ve told this story before, in writing and in therapy, but today my story is an apology and a plea. If I could’ve shown up at her party, I would have.
“I had no idea,” she says.
“Yeah,” I offer a weak smile. “Shit happens.”
She laughs at my crass comment, but I am serious. Shit happens. Really stressful and uncomfortable shit happens every day. We are all walking warriors, moving through our lives, and the micro-battles we face stretch us and often test our limits. We are souls having an often confusing human experience, but if I can manage to remember that shit happens, I find the lesson and am able to move forward (sometimes with some time, some therapy, and some good friends).
“I went through a hard time, too,” she explains once I’ve finished. “The summer was really really hard.”
The sun has started to set, and there’s a bit of frost in the air as she tells me about her ex. She shares her journey through abuse, stalking and her decision to finally leave. She tells me about the restraining order and the process of testifying against someone she used to love.
“I went through it all alone,” she says. “I’m proud of myself, but it was tough.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Embarrassment,” she counters. “I haven’t told anyone. I probably wouldn’t have told you if you hadn’t shared your story.”
We both sit in silence, connected by the knowledge that no one suffers alone.
Yes, bad things happen and the goal is to transcend, but the road to collapsing your story is fraught with mixed-emotion. There may be shame in what has happen, or fear of what’s to come, but part of releasing your story involves an exorcism. You’ve got to share it, you’ve got to get it out of your own head. You have to let it out, so that it no longer lives inside of you.
Keep inside only things that you would like to nurture and grow.
There is medicine in sharing your story. There is healing in standing empowered in your story. When you can stand in that space you, unwittingly, become large enough to hold the space for others. Your story, devoid of shame, can help another step into self-acceptance and love.
We all deserve to be heard. There is medicine in both the story and in the kind ears that receive the words.
Today, if you are going through something that feels larger than yourself, share it with someone you trust. Share it with someone who can help you hold the space. Whether a therapist, a coach, or a really good friend, share your story with someone who will listen. We are not our circumstances. The shitty things that happen do not define our true potential. You are larger and more powerful than you could possibly know, and even if you’re not ready to step out of isolation, you’re never ever alone.
Shit happens, but there’s medicine in your story.
Let it out and create the room to heal. 🙂
Psst…I’m away from technology until September 8th, so if you comment I won’t get back to your right away. Sending you love from my retreat. Xoxoxo