Whenever we met a new person my friend Lisa would tell her story. It was a very painful story where she was kicked out of her matrimonial home by her husband who had brought in another wife.
She did not have a stable job but now had to start catering for her daughter in a crowded house which included her widowed mom and other sisters who had children as well. It was not the ideal setting where she would have wanted to raise her firstborn, hardly the picture of the picket fence setting she had in mind when she discovered that she was carrying her baby.
After the initial phase of crying and denial, she entered another phase that would see her tell the story to anybody who would listen. From the local shopkeeper, friends, fellow passengers in public transport, strangers in restaurants, to church mates and many other people.
I found this quite strange and actually cautioned her. I asked her don’t you think that people are laughing at you behind your back? Don’t you think that people may use all that information you are using against you one day?
She looked at me straight in the eye and simply said, “It is the only way I know how to cope. The more I replay the incidents in mind the more they become less painful. The more I talk about them the more I feel relieved. It is the only way I know how to cope, with time I will heal and slam the door on all these.″ She finally stopped talking about it and true to her word, she was completely healed. The pain was no longer evident in her voice the few times she chose to speak about the incident.
Lisa also revealed to me that in the recent past many of her friends and colleagues who have gone through similar situations called her to ask how she finally managed to heal. Others told her that they drew strength from her narrations and were able to cope with their situations. She has seen more people who are willing to open up about the problems they are facing in their lives.
“Every time you tell your story and someone else who cares bears witness to it, you turn off the body’s stress responses, flipping off toxic stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and flipping on relaxation responses that release healing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins.″
“Not only does this turn on the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms and function as preventative medicine—or treatment if you’re sick. It also relaxes your nervous system and helps heal your mind of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and feelings of disconnection, ″ said Lissa Rankin, M.D, founder of Owning Pink Center.
You are Never Alone
When going through a difficult situation in their lives, most people think that they are the only ones who have experienced such a problem. This can make you separate and disconnect with people who think have better lives. You might even start thinking that there is something wrong with you or someone cursed you.
Once you open up to people it becomes clear you are not the only one and that people have been there, and won the battle. Remember the old adage that misery loves company? You might just love the company you get or you could be what they have been waiting for all this time.
Bearing it all to one person or to a bigger platform may require you to be vulnerable and remove your masks and stop worrying what other people may think of you. It takes much courage to be vulnerable to your closest friends and it can be worse if you have to talk to people you have never met before.
In order to get healing and move on, you may have to forget about being vulnerable and open up. Besides, as aforementioned, everyone has a story and theirs could be worse meaning it might be hard for them to judge you.
Talk to Strangers
Some people may have to protect their reputations because of their jobs and families and that is quite understandable. In such cases, you can find a stranger and open your heart to them. I know it sounds weird and stranger than fiction but it does happen as the day a woman asked to open up to me as we sat waiting for pizza. She did not need my advice though, just a listening ear and after we left she confessed to feeling lighter.
There are very many platforms where you can up and they include counseling centers, religious organizations, and I see brave souls who bare it all in well-written posts on platforms such as Facebook. There are people who have gone on to make money from blogs that they started as outlets for their feelings as well.
The world can be a cruel place and sometimes we all need a shoulder to lean on. Someone may also need you and your story may just be what they need to start their lives all over again or go back and mend fences where necessary.