“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou
“Any conversation that starts with “Did I ever tell you that my mother was murdered?” is going to be awkward.” Lockey Maisonneuve
Yes, murdered. Don’t miss Lockey’s story, which she shares at Positively Positive. I’ll wait here until you get back. You’re going to have to experience it before we can continue.
“How could she think she didn’t have “permission” to ask me about my mother?”
The word “permission” was mine. I meant it literally. As close friends we’ve shared many personal facts about ourselves. Despite our openness, I was aware of a gaping hole when it came to Lockey’s mother. There was no evasion. There was just scant information. For that reason, I felt until the moment she brought it up that I had no right to ask questions.
We were in Lockey’s car, doubling back on the Garden State Highway because we had gotten momentarily lost. I was talking and Lockey interrupted to say I should ask her about the police station we had just driven past when I was finished. I did, and she answered my question with a question (“Did I ever tell you that my mother was murdered?”) before proceeding to tell me her story.
I firmly believe that telling our story is a pivotal part of the healing process – from anything. The alternative, holding your story inside, causes agony because: 1) it festers and 2) it infects every part of your life.
Here’s the way I’ve always seen it: Telling your story is revealing your truth. And, as we all know, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Of course, telling your truth is often far from easy:
“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” James A. Garfield
I know that misery. Immediately after my mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstruction surgery, I started meeting weekly with a therapist at my cancer center. We dug down deep into my cancer issues: anger, loneliness, fear, disappointment in others, stress, body image, etc., etc. I thought there was plenty to talk about without branching out beyond cancer, but my psyche had other ideas as the trauma of cancer made past traumas resurface.
It was a miserable time, but telling my truth saved me. Sure, I cried a lot, but I told my story, worked through my truth and learned a lot in the process.
I believe so strongly in the healing power of telling your story that I made it the #2 simple secret to creating inspired healing, wellness and your joyous life after cancer in my book, You Can Thrive After Treatment. (Second only to “Show Up To Be Supported.”)
To get started telling your story, follow these simple tips:
1. Tell your story when you are ready – No one but you can decide when you are ready to reveal your truth. There is no right or wrong time; there is only what works for you.
2. Find a safe environment – If you’re reluctant to tell your story, perhaps it’s because you have yet to find a trustworthy listener. Revealing our truth can make us feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. You shouldn’t open up until you find a friend or family member, support group or therapist who you trust to hear what you have to say.
3. Think outside the box – Revealing your truth can be done in an infinite amount of ways. If you’re shy about going public, start slowly by journaling, painting or any other creative endeavor that expresses what you want to say.
4. Own it – Embrace your story as an integral part of your history. It’s made you who you are today and there’s always something to learn from every experience.
We are all survivors of something and each of us has a story (or stories) to tell. But that doesn’t mean we should all talk at the same time. Lockey’s story reminds me that, just as I have healed by being heard, so can I help others heal by hearing their stories. Once again, the power of giving back in gratitude for the healing support I received is its own reward.
Survival > Existence,