Your fear, your pain, your secret shame—whatever wakes you up at 2 a.m. or keeps you from falling asleep—you are not the only one to experience it. If you were to share it, someone else would understand. Someone would say, “Me too.” It may not be your spouse, or your parent, or even your best friend—it may be a stranger whom you’ve never met face-to-face. But rest assured, they are out there.
Yes, they, because there’s probably more than one. This burden you carry feels all the heavier because you think you carry it alone. That is not true. If you speak the secret in a safe place, others will speak up too. They will say, “I feel the same way,” or “I’ve done that too, and I’m so ashamed.” The relief you will all feel when you find each other is enormous. Sharing the load makes it easier to carry, and sometimes bringing it into the light makes it disappear.
I’ve witnessed this recently on a private forum for a class about writing through your pain to the love on the other side. These women—complete strangers at first—have gradually begun to share their most secret secrets, and the acceptance and understanding is overwhelming. One will post a gut-wrenching admission of something which has smothered her in shame and guilt for years, and within minutes, others are posting. Forgiving, commiserating, sharing their similar experiences. Each one feeling like she alone had done that or felt that way—until the dozens of others spoke up.
It is powerfully uplifting to witness the healing that happens when you share what you think is the worst part of you and it is met with compassion and love. It opens the way for peace and joy. Feeling afraid, ashamed, or guilty blocks joy from entering your life like a clot blocks blood flow—and it can be just as life-threatening. Dissolving that clot by sharing your truth will clear the path for all the goodness that is waiting for you.
If you are suffering, I encourage you to seek out a safe place to lay your burden down. Look for support groups, classes, or organizations that might yield a space for you to share. Your tribe is out there, I promise. Online classes are great because it can be easier to be truthful when you’re not actually in the same room—or city—as the other people. I have a special love for Martha Beck’s classes because I find they tend to draw people who are either also in pain and seeking to transform, or those who are or want to be healers. Be cautious about the group you choose—speaking up only to be met with judgment can be devastating. I’m not a huge fan of most religious groups because judgment just seems to be built into organized religion, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t wonderful congregations out there.
If you aren’t ready to share yet, you could try reading memoirs by authors who have had similar experiences. Maybe start a journal or write a letter to an author you feel a connection with (you don’t have to send it). Sometimes getting everything on paper helps you release it, and imagining a sympathetic response can help you feel understood.
Whatever you do, know that there are others who feel like you, who have experienced what you have. What I am learning is that none of us is truly alone. We are part of a collective love, if we will only open up and welcome it.