The other day I was sitting with a friend having coffee and catching up on life. She’s the kind of friend that I can sit and joke with about both extreme neurotic-ism and laziness and also guesstimate how many calories are in those oversized dessert breads that sit behind glass taunting us. She’s one of many friends I can text at 11pm for a favor, or that I know will have the very best advice for a tough parenting issue, and if I hypothetically needed to hide a body I would totally reach out to for help. She’s also the friend that has bared witness to the trials of my life and received truths about me that once were quietly hidden in the darkness.
Those types of friendships are rare. I have sat on both sides of that table, both sharing and receiving stories. More often than not these are the things we try to keep silenced, sequestered from our very best Facebook life. These stories hold pieces of us that hold feelings and emotions that can either bring us up or bury us. Happiness, joy, love, anger, sadness, pain, shame, guilt, hope, fear, pride, bitterness, elation, etc., can all exist within a person. To suppress is to survive for most folks, however, those stories anchored by emotions can also drown a person, choking them of living a full and wondrous life.
There is a great deal of trust granted when someone shares their story with you. That trust must be respected. Through that trust a life jacket is thrown out to the other person so that they can be scooped up out of darkness and rescued into the light. Our own stories become beacons of hope for those that have bottled up the ugly and broken memories that are painted on their hearts. Healing happens when the chains and bitterness that held in our stories are shattered and light from shared connection reveals a new strength free of burden inside. We become both the giver and receiver.
“When people voice a true hard thing, they’ve already stolen some of its dark power before we offer one word to fix it… Pulling something difficult from its dark hiding place and into the light is innately healing… We have to remember in community and even better to practice individually, that light trumps darkness. If you’re concealing a dark struggle, you guarantee its power if it’s shrouded in secrecy. But when you drag the truth kicking and screaming into the glorious light, you can see it for what it is. It is actually sad and pathetic sitting there in the light, shriveling up and losing its power over you.” – Jen Hatmaker, For the Love
I’ve had people call me sensitive, “a thinker”, too emotional, too serious, etc. I don’t think that makes me a bad person or is a bad habit. That part of myself has proved to be beyond useful in helping others identify and resolve things that happened to them. I am sensitive. But that sensitivity makes me vulnerable and relatable. I can’t hide my stories because they are a part of who I am, but they no longer hinder me, because that power is gone.
I still have a long way to go, things I’m not ready to release into the world but I am more brave today because I have seen the courageous bravery in others that have unraveled memories once entangled with the same deep hard emotions that cling to mine.
Humans are so weird. Sometimes it’s easy to fear what other people will say or do if “they found out,” but I also have to imagine what good to occur for them (and for me) if they did.