How sharing our stories can help us connect in challenging times

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About a month ago, I posted in a Facebook group for bloggers.  I shared my About Page to get some feedback and a girl from North Carolina responded, saying she is housebound with an illness too.

 

I remember the gentle sigh of comfort that followed, leaving me feeling like I could breathe a little easier than before.  It was the unmistakable relief that comes from knowing you’re not the only one.

 

We both commented on the power of knowing this, especially in such isolating circumstances.  She called it the power of having someone say, “me too.”

 

It was a beautiful experience and I wish I could say it has stuck with me ever since, bringing constant and continuous comfort.

 

But it hasn’t.

 

Especially not this past week.

 

For many reasons, I found myself in the throes of intense loneliness, isolation, and abandonment for much of the last week.  Despite the factual knowledge that there are people who love and care about me, I couldn’t feel it.

 

Sometimes it helps to know that certain feelings are just part of the human condition and that everyone experiences them at one point or another.  And sometimes it doesn’t.

 

It’s not so helpful when you’re pretty sure that even if others feel that way too, yours is definitely worse.  Being housebound with an illness where you’re physically unable to do the most basic everyday things others do without giving it a thought will do that to you.

 

And that’s how I felt.  I didn’t care if anyone else was experiencing it too.  I didn’t want to have to be feeling it.  It felt awful and I wanted it to stop.  Plain and simple.

 

I reached out to a fellow coach who helped me allow myself to recognize the feelings of loneliness and isolation–as well as the deep longing for connection and community–for what they are.

 

Normal.  Real.  Understandable.  Healthy.

 

This lifted some of the pressure so I no longer felt the need to change it or minimize it, and could just feel it and allow it to be.  It still wasn’t easy–it’s hard when it feels like everything is going swimmingly for everyone but you and you’re pretty sure that you really are the only one.

 

But for me, sharing with her made the difference.  I felt heard.  I knew she cared.  And while it didn’t take the feeling away, it helped make it feel a little less awful.

 

So today I’m here to declare that our stories matter.

 

Our stories help us connect with others.

 

Having the courage to share our experiences openly and honesty with people we trust creates the potential for connection.  It clears a sacred space, an opening that allows someone to have the opportunity to say, “me too,” so that neither person is left feeling alone.

 

Perhaps your story is just the one someone needs to hear in order to experience the relief of knowing they’re not the only one.

 

If you have a “me too” story to share, I’d love to hear it over on the Facebook page or in an e-mail.

 

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2 thoughts on “How sharing our stories can help us connect in challenging times

  1. Hi Caitlin — telling my “me too” stories to those who have earned the right to hear them has been an important piece of my healing process. Especially in the early days when it seemed my doctors couldn’t diagnosis me. Initially all I wanted was to be heard (secretly praying someone could and would tell me what was causing my suffering).
    Wearing the mask of “I alone” must keep my stories private felt tight and scary…with a side of shame thrown in on the side. Sharing my ‘me too’ stories, in a container of love with a compassionate witness, felt (feels) like freedom, connection and genuine self-compassion. Standing in this truth I accept my human condition…..I long for, want, crave and desire inclusion, acceptance and community. Just the way I am. See the truth is:
    Whenever we fight against reality….we suffer. Prayer answered.

    1. What a beautiful offering of your own personal experience, Rebecca! I love the way you clarify the importance of sharing only with those you know you can trust AND the way you describe how it feels to do so–“freedom, connection, and genuine self-compassion.” Gorgeous!

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