Breaking through silence
Aged 21 I found myself trapped by my own silence.
I was struggling emotionally, I had lost weight because I was so unhappy. I was suffering with regular migraines and I was not living a healthy lifestyle to say the least. Many of my behaviours could be described as harmful and I was my own worst enemy – if you could hear the things I would say to myself, you would agree.
This overtook my personal life. I struggled with my relationships, my education and my life.
I found myself trapped in my own head, shrouded in shame and a complete inability to speak out.
Over the years through my work as a counsellor, I have found this to be very common for other people too. With one in four of us suffering from some form of mental health problem, my struggles were more common than I realised. And the struggle to speak out is common too.
The first time I really shared with a friend she used the words “I know what it’s like”. Such simple words but so powerful. We connected through our pain and I received understanding of what I was going through.
Through my work, I have had many clients share things they have never spoken about before, experiences and secrets they have carried for years with shame and fear of judgement. Through the safety of the counselling space, I have witnessed the healing power time and time again of connecting through painful and difficult story telling and sharing of oneself. I too, have found healing through the counselling space. I have found that when I share, the tension in my life eases as well the tension of my migraines.
So I often wonder about the opposing forces – the yearning to speak, to be heard and understood, with the debilitation fear of being seen. Fear of being judged for how we feel, for our behaviour or for the family’s we belong to.
How can we move from this fear to a moment of connection with another?
We have to take a risk, to feel within us that there is the possibility that we could be understood by someone who does care. When we have been let down by others, and our experiences tell us otherwise, this can be a very difficult step to take.
I have seen and been with people, seen the dissolving of shame, the building of trust and the power of connecting with another in vulnerability, the removing of the protective masks that we each wear in our everyday lives leading.
If you recognise yourself in any part of what I have spoken about, perhaps you too might find some relief in sharing your story, being heard in a non-judgemental space, and finding ways to be heard despite any shame you may carry.
Please take the first step – often that’s the hardest one.
This post was originally created for the counselling directory and can be found on their website here.