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. I think that was a pretty good opening. 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 I deny a piece of my history, I am denying a piece of myself. And I will never be whole if I do that; I will always feel a space, a gap, a lack. And I’ve felt the gap 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 you out temporarily and trick you into thinking the gap has been filled. And then the sun will rise again and you’ll see you were fooled, and it’ll all hurt that much more (and if you’re anything like me, you’ll add your shame for falling for the lure to your pile of pain, because clearly you are broken, weak, stupid, and a failure for doing so).
I had to reclaim that missing part of me, bring it back home, invite it back into the fold, if I ever wanted a shot at feeling better – healthier, happier, whole.
The hard stuff? We’ve got to talk about it.