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Post by Brianna Yates, volunteer HOPE for Bipolar Loved Ones mentor and mental health advocate for Hope Xchange.
Your Story Is Your Life and It Is Worth More Than You Think
Everyone has a story. We’ve all heard this so many times before by people who mean well, but what does it really mean? No matter how enthusiastic this phrase can be said, I’m sure many of us perceive this statement as your story doesn’t matter. The way I see it, your story is a collection of your life experiences, some amazing, others heart breaking, and many in between. Your story is your life and it’s worth more than what you think!
When you’re trying to find your place and your voice in a BIG world, how discouraging is it to be constantly told that you are like a raindrop in the midst of the ocean? We need to hear more statements that refer to us as individuals. Replacing the “everyone” with “you” makes all the difference. It makes a comment that more personal to us, making us more willing to receive and act on it. Going back to the phrase that I have been expanding on this far, what we are not told (and need to hear) is, “you have a story that is unique, significant, and deserves to be heard.” If you never hear it, then my friend, it is my message to you!
Without this, we come to believe that our stories are unworthy of sharing, that they are both a bother and a burden to others; so we either (a) don’t think to share them or (b) refrain from sharing them altogether. This has to change. Why? I find that author, Dean Borgman (2003), said it best, “The point is: a sense of present and coming significance cannot wait; delayed significance will not do. Significance is a human requirement for adolescents and adults."
Importance of Accepting Your Story
A little about me: the trauma I experienced from ages 8 to 11 affected me greatly in my youth (along with being addicted to pornography, having mommy issues and social anxiety made it no easier to come to know who I was made to be). I kept my troubles to myself and dealt with my depression alone. I wanted so much to forget about the traumatic experiences in my childhood, because it was painful for me to face, I hated that they ever happened, and I was ashamed to speak about it. I wanted a better present for myself, and so I began to suppress it.
What I didn’t realize was that by not accepting my story (by suppressing it), and not sharing it, I was hurting myself more. Locking myself in my room to be alone to cry and tell myself how much I hated me, hitting myself, many times even binging on pornography, and expressing hatred to my family, were all silent cries for help. It was the best that I felt that I could do. I couldn’t get myself to accept my story and it ate at me, but it was also hurting me not to do so. The war that I was fighting internally were filled with losing battles, and it caused my depression to grow worse. I was no match for the years of damage. I thought to myself, “no kid should ever have to deal with things like this, I’m a failure, maybe God made a mistake with me.” I saw myself as damaged goods and I sure felt that way.
I finally gave up and gave Christ a shot. When I did, He showed me just how precious I was to Him, that He really cared for me, and that my story mattered to Him. He broke me free from the pornography addiction and restored the way I saw people, not as sexual objects, but as people. The wonderful thing was that my war was not mine anymore, and that it was fought by someone stronger and more capable than myself. In Christ alone, I was given the strength to make a lifestyle change (something I could not do on my own), but it was up to me to make better decisions for myself.
It was painful, as much as I wanted to give in to my old ways because of familiarity, I felt that enough was truly enough for me in that area of my life. The roots of my hurt were uprooted. Yet, God showed me that what was left was for me to come to accept my story for what it was and to talk about it. When I embraced my past, my healing process began. Seven years later, I am healed and well. This is my story.
Why You Must Accept and Tell Your Story
I find that there is something quite healing and assuring about coming to accept your story. For me, it was a journey, but when I accepted it, I was compelled to share my story with someone. I came to grips that keeping my story to myself was selfish, as there are others who are silently at war with their traumas every day. Not only was it a disservice to others, it was a disservice to myself. As I shared my story, my confidence grew and the more people I shared my story with, the more I found peace within myself.
When we accept and share our story with others (no matter how hideous we think they are or how uncomfortable it may make people feel), we can begin to make sense of ourselves: who we are, where we are, and where we are headed. It gives us the knowledge we need to take a different path or if where we are headed is not where we desire to go. When our stories are accepted by ourselves and heard by others, we empower them.
Your courage in telling your story encourages people to accept and tell their own stories so they can begin their own healing process. Suppressing or not telling our stories can be deadly in many ways. I want you to know (yes, you) that you owe it to yourself and then to others to accept and share your story. Not only can it lead you to the healing that you may need and allow you to live your life more fully, but it will also draw others to a journey of internal peace and understanding. I encourage you to begin this journey.
Invitation to Our Community to Begin Your Journey