I opened a recent talk by telling the audience we were going to talk about the sort of stuff you’re not supposed to talk about, the taboo stuff, the hard stuff. They seemed interested.
The day following the talk, I submitted an article to the Huffington Post. We’ll see if they have any interest. I had initially intended to include two paragraph that included some details on my attempted suicide at age 20. I ended up cutting out one of the paragraphs for space reasons — and, I wonder how much, because I was afraid of sharing.
I don’t think I’m worried about the reactions of strangers. They don’t know me or my family. But what about the reactions of/from family and friends? And the reaction to family and friends? I would never want to hurt them. And yet, sharing my experiences could bring them pain. I’m sharing the stuff you don’t talk about (at least in my head the story plays that it is the stuff you don’t talk about). Is it okay to share? What will others think?
I almost didn’t submit anything at all. Then I realized that if I didn’t, I was perpetuating the “don’t talk about it” mentality. And how are my children, how are other children, going to feel comfortable coming forward if/when they are struggling if I’ve decided it’s something I wouldn’t share because I “shouldn’t”? I can’t do that to them. I can’t do that to me.
Every time we deny a piece of our history, we are denying a piece of ourselves. And we will never be whole if we do that. We will always feel a space, a gap, a lack. (And this isn’t to say to wallow in the history, because ultimately that isn’t a place we want to stay stuck. Rather, it’s about simply acknowledging and allowing it to be — because it’s what happened.)
I’ve felt the gap, the lacking space, and tried before to fill it with food, drink, sex, work, anything. It didn’t work. Because that stuff doesn’t work. It can numb us out temporarily and trick us into thinking the gap has been filled. And then the sun will rise again and we’ll see we’ve been fooled, and it’ll all hurt that much more.
We need to reclaim the missing parts of us, bring them back home, invite them back into the fold, if we want to feel better – healthier, happier, whole.
The hard stuff? We’ve got to talk about it.