Blog

Aug24
2015

The Power of Your Story

By Brit Barkholtz

I like hearing people’s stories. I’m the type of person who loves a good autobiography just as much as I love fiction, and there are more documentaries in my Netflix queue than anything else. My favorite bands, favorite shows, favorite movies—I’ve seen all their “behind the scenes” footage and read all their “did you know??” trivia. I recently got choked up watching a video of a professional hockey player sharing the story of his good friend’s struggle with depression and eventual suicide. Yes, that’s right: A professional sports figure I’ve never met and who plays for a team I don’t even root for nearly moved me to tears with the story of his friend. Knowing and seeing someone’s surface is one thing, but it has always meant more to me to see the story underneath: the nitty-gritty underbelly that hasn’t been carefully polished for public consumption.

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to sit down for one-on-ones with a group of high school girls. The things they talked to me about varied greatly; I heard everything from “I don’t always get along with my mom” to “I was sexually assaulted by a teacher at school.” But one thing was consistent: Almost all of the girls I talked to told me a part of their story either preceded or followed by “I haven’t told anyone this before” or “I don’t really talk about this with very many people.” It surprised me how honest these girls were with someone they had met only that morning, but I did not take it lightly. I felt honored and humbled by their choice to share parts of their stories with me. Every single one of them expressed some form of relief at the end of our conversations, too. Several of them felt empowered to share their stories with someone else they trust. It made me realize an important truth that comes with sharing stories: The more you share them, the easier it gets. For some, that happens fairly quickly; for others, it is a gradual process. But at the end of the day, one thing was clear to me: Sharing our stories is an important part of healing that often gets overshadowed by our fear, our shame, or our pain.

So often we end up feeling like we’re going through life unheard. When we don’t feel our voices are heard, we don’t feel like our stories have value. And when we deny the value of our story, we stop fighting to make it heard. But whether you want someone to offer advice, words of encouragement, words of consolation, or even if you don’t need anyone to say anything at all, we all deserve to have someone who listens to what we have to say. You deserve to have someone who listens to what you have to say.

In a world of stigma, shame, victim-blaming, and apathy, it can be terrifying to share your story. I am not going to tell you it’s easy because truthfully it can be really, really hard. I still struggle with knowing whom I can trust to share my story with. And the first time I really told my story, I didn’t even say anything. I found myself unable to actually speak; instead I wrote down what I needed to say and gave it to someone I trusted to read. What’s important is that you find the way that is right for you.

As someone who has heard many people’s stories, I can tell you that there are people who are willing and want to listen. And as someone who is working on telling my own story, I can tell you that doing so can be healing. Sharing your story not only has the power to heal you, but it also has the power to help others as well. Remember that someone else might need to hear your story just as much as you need to tell it. So I invite you to share your story with someone; it could give them strength, keep them hopeful, or even just remind them that they are not alone.

And most importantly, remember this: No matter how much of it you do or do not share with others, this is not the end of your story. Your story matters. Your voice matters. Find the people who will listen to you. Remember that you are not alone.

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Comments (18)

  1. Jaymie

    Love this! Perfect timing. Thank you for posting. <3

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  2. Amanda Henderson

    I LOVE this! Even though I am going through my own struggles, I always try to stop and listen to peoples’ stories if they are willing to tell them to me. I know through the telling of my own story that it gets a lot easier every time I tell it whether it’s to a friend or to a therapist.

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  3. Alexander Thorpe

    I just wrote something similar this morning that I shared with my friends. Thank you for posting this…thank you for sharing…thank you for being here. 🙂

    Reply  |  
  4. Nicole

    I love this post! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂 Also, I totally feel the same way about what you said in the beginning, about seeing the story underneath the surface. It actually reminds me of lyrics to the song “Stories Don’t End” by the band Dawes: “Like a famous singer that lost his voice that we all still want to meet.”

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  5. Carol

    Wow…..Im left speechless and most of all confident for whoever else besides me that needs to feel this! I shared “my story” a few years ago and 8 can say that every thing in this blog has truth to it! I hope and pray that courage and strength is given to those who feel fear or shame to release the bond age this can have over ones spirit. May God bless you for your encouragement to all who are needing this!

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  6. Maggie

    Love this one. Thanks for putting it out there. I have been told we are only as sick as our secrets and we must give away what we want to keep. When we share boldly and honestly…we help others know they are not alone and WE are ok. It helps everyone be just a bit better:)) I pray hope and encouragement for all here.

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  7. Bindu M.

    I wish there were programs like this when I was in high school…I love hearing other’s stories and sharing mine. Hearing how all our stories carry on…it’s a really beautiful thing. To have known then that I was not alone in my struggles with depression would have helped tremendously….but even as an adult in my 30’s, this story helps in reminding me that I am still not alone. Thank you for posting and sharing.

    Reply  |  
  8. Pingback: Talking about my problems | a universe inside of me

  9. Beck

    Thank you for this reminder and encouragement. I am beginning to share parts of my life’s story with a woman I trust and feel safe with. Said outloud for the first time a couple days ago this this woman the words, “I AM a victim and I AM vulnerable because of it.” This was huge for me to accept and huge for her to hear… There is freedom in our words from shame and denial… I will continue to break through the silence. Thank you again.

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  10. debbie robinson

    I need to tell my story. I have been living with it for over 30 years.

    Reply  |  
  11. keara

    I just watxhed the twloha movie last night. It hit very close to hone on my feelings my emotions and my mental stability. I have lost a lot in my life and I am finally coming to terms with my depression anxiety a.d.h.d my possible post pardum depression my probable mood disorder my co dependency and my o.c.d. life is hard but finding people who are inyour sshoes has held me together.

    Reply  |  
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  13. Christine Goulet

    I struggle with depression and self harm, was verbally abused as a child so drinking and cutting and running were my distractions. My dad died 4.5 yrs ago, after the funeral flashbacks and unwanted memories flooded my head. Two councellors and lots of prayers later still struggle with it all under stress. But I have learned to open up and let people in to help me . Thank you for posting , nice to know I am not alone and will get better in time.

    Reply  |  
  14. David Edwards

    This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.

      TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.

      If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at info@twloha.com.

      Reply  |  
  15. Pingback: Mental Health Week at GW - GW

  16. Andrea

    Thank you! This blog was confirming for me! I too looove to hear others’ share their stories. I guess you could say I do it for a living. Even more, I love dancing a story!! This article encouraged me to keep pressing forward with my desire to teach others how to use dance as a platform for sharing their stories.

    Reply  |  
  17. Veronica Kalo

    I have a story that I am willing to share as I have been through adversity and the power of Angels that sent me back.. I am here to give back. Let me share with you! I am a Mom of a Hockey player who is also here for a reason . My son had played with Mark Cross in Estevan Saskatchewan when he was killed in the bus crashrecently. What a beautiful world sharing of love and support and hope for the deceased..My son was so devastated after hearing the tragic news and said” Mom I am so grateful for being here as we travel across the country to play hockey and we rely on competent bus drivers to get our team to tenet hockey game II am here for a reason . Thank you My son played for the Rapid City Rush in South Dakota. See Anthony Collins hockey fights and profile for his time on his team He is a such a mentor for his team! I have so many more connections and want to write a book because I have so many events that make me realize that I am here for reason and am doing God’s wprk So many reasons that I am so grateful for every blessing every day!.Please connect with me as I am teacher and and helping students every day.

    Reply  |  
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