The Danger of Not Telling Your Story
As a writer and a person with a degenerative brain condition, I often tumble into a state of what-will-they-say-about-me paranoia.
A state where you hold your breath as you wrestle with the sinking feeling of eternal doom.
What has helped me breathe and escape such doom is telling my story. I’ve learned that showing who I am is the only way to triumph over such paranoia.
This past summer I trained for a 5k. I wrote about my training. Shared pictures and videos. I proudly told people how I was jogging almost 3 miles now.
To be totally human– I liked the praise. The smiles. The admiration.
During training, I often visualized myself crossing the finish line. Confetti falling. Balloons rising. My wife and children are there—smiling, crying, and hugging me. A medal dangles around my neck. People are clapping. Someone gives me a high-five. Then a pat on the butt. Even the local news is there.
I imagined how proud my children would be of their dad. A dad who finally proved his salt by doing something physically impressive. A dad who they could brag about the next day at school.
Then 6 weeks before the race, I began suffering from migraines. Migraines that prevented me from training. That ultimately prevented me from running the race with my family.
The rain fell and I waited at the finish line, for my wife and children, feeling like a failure. I mean–I spent an entire summer training then writing about how training was making me a better person. How I finally felt strong. How I was proving anything was possible.
And here I stood, under an umbrella just watching other runners cross the finish line, arms raised, smiling.
The hardest post I ever wrote and shared was “The Race I Did Not Run”.
I didn’t want to tell you I failed to run. I was ashamed. Embarrassed. Afraid of what you may say.
I deleted the first draft. I spent hours in a vice. Hours holding my breath. Everything I claimed to stand for was being squeezed. I was a fraud. I wanted to quit writing. Quit telling my story. And though it was not physically possible, I wanted to run away.
Through the years I’ve experience both power and comfort from sharing my story. I’ve learned that healing could only happen if I’m brave enough to write and share.
Please understand it’s scary as hell to share these things with you. Don’t forget, I’m a prideful man. I supposed to be as tough as Teflon. Brave. Unfazed. Unflappable. But for me, telling you these stories is my effort to heal and make sense of things of the many things I can’t change.
I understand if you’re reluctant to share your story. In fact, I don’t blame you. But whoever you are, male or female, you need to find a trusted confidant, a person who has earned the right to hear to your story and will respond with both compassion and objectivity.
Because I know and have experienced the dangers of silence.
We fear what they might say, so we don’t say anything.
We bury our story. We live in secrecy. We spend our whole life holding our breath.