Why Telling Your Story and Being Heard is the Beginning of Healing
I spent nearly a decade in coffee shops writing stories about other people. I created protagonists and cheered them on their hero’s journey as they stayed their dragons and made the return changed. Forever. I gave them capes. Meanwhile, I was pushing a mail cart in my own life. Not literally. I was running a restaurant bar / club. It was flashy and scenic and people thought I was “successful”. But I was living a false version of myself, seeking approval and validation and exchanging my truth for membership. Deep inside I was unhappy and lost. Or more accurately, hurting.
It wasn’t until my divorce, when I started from scratch that I embarked on the road to rebirth. Sometimes you can’t remodel. There are too many rooms that are fucked up. The house needs to be torn down and built again. I changed careers. I found CrossFit. I made a new batch of friends. But my healing didn’t come from therapy or self help books. It didn’t come from fitness. I didn’t come from friendships. It came from the choice to share my story. Becoming a therapist, connecting with my body, and finding my tribe of course contributed to my growth. But it was embracing my story that created soil for healing.
Most of us want to rip out our chapters. There are things that have happened that are lined with shame, guilt, and regret, things that were beyond our control. And we don’t want anyone to know. We want to forget, ignore, and push away. Because if people knew these things about our story, that would mean we are defective in some way. But the truth is by not embracing our story fully, everything that has happened to us, “good” or “bad”, we are denying ourselves. This is a form of self rejection.
Whenever we are rejecting ourselves, we are preventing the healing process.
So healing means to fully accept your story. As you accept your story and begin to embrace it by sharing it with others, your story becomes powerful, bigger than you because you can now use it to help others. I believe this is the process that heals. It’s in your acceptance of your story where you’ll find acceptance in self.
Exercise: Flip the Script.
Write down the bad events that you want to rip out of your story. Not every little thing that’s caused anxiety in your life. Just the big life changing ones that created long dark winters. For example, here a few of mine. Failed as a screenwriter. Shitty jobs to get hours for licensure. Divorce. Business partnerships that didn’t work. Break ups. Now under each one, draw a line downward and write what good happened because of the event. (As you can see from the photo above).
Failed as a screenwriter → is why I became a therapist.
Shitty jobs to get hours for licensure → is how I learned my concepts, therapeutic community, group work, and the fundamental idea of rebuilding yourself through others which will later become the flag for my company.
Divorce → lead to my rebirth, discovering CrossFit, and my alter ego, The Angry Therapist.
Business partnerships that didn’t work → lead to learning and getting into a partnership with healthy boundaries that does work.
Break ups → lead to various love lessons and revelations about self and the work I need to do to love harder.
All the “bad” events made me feel like Clark Kent. But they gave birth to a series of new events that make me feel like Superman. This is the power of your story. Most of us want to reject parts of our story because we don’t see this pattern or progress. We only see and feel the “bad”, forgetting that the “bad” will be the soil for the “good”.
The first step to healing is accepting your story. Then there is a tipping point where your story becomes bigger than you and takes a life of its own. This happens when you not only embrace your story but share it, using it to help others. This process is the true beginning of the healing process. It allows you to separate what happened from who you are. At the same time, reconnecting parts of yourself you have ditched because of shame.
Your story is the most powerful thing you will ever own.
You can use it to heal you.