I’ve alluded to a rough summer and a rough year, but I haven’t necessarily gone into details. As a site built on sharing stories and building connections through shared experiences, I find myself wondering why I haven’t gotten more specific. I suppose it would be easy enough to say that it’s my business and I’m just not ready to share yet. But that’s not really it. I’ve never had trouble sharing details about my personal life (just ask my friends and random strangers who’ve been on the receiving end of my over-sharing). The more I think about it, I think there are a few reasons I haven’t shared more.
One – I’m still very much in the thick of it. I’m coping better now and healing, but I’m still in the middle of this particular story. I’ve learned some lessons and have figured some things out, but I know I’m nowhere near done processing everything my brain and heart are working through. And I personally like to share stories with a beginning, middle and end. I like to share how I was feeling, what helped me and what I understand now in retrospect. (That said, sometimes the story does end with “and so now it just kind of sucks.” And that’s okay, too.)
Two, and more importantly – I believe the details can often get in the way of our connecting with other people. It’s too easy to distance ourselves by saying “That’s never happened to me. I haven’t lost a parent. I haven’t had a marriage end. I’ve never gotten fired. I’ve never had a miscarriage. I’ve never lost my home. I’ve never been diagnosed with a life-changing illness.” (Just to clarify – these are not all things that have happened to me this year. The universe would have an exceptionally cruel sense of humor to dump all that on me at once.) And even when we have experienced those things, we can’t relate exactly because each loss is different. Each disappointment is unique. Every life change is a new combination of stress, uncertainty and newness. The only thing that really is universal are our emotions. No matter what the situation, we’ve all felt overwhelmed. We’ve all felt joy. Helpless. Lonely. Resentful. Hopeful. At different times in our lives, we’ve all experienced these emotions, and connecting with people around these emotions rather than the specifics of a situation is what makes empathy so powerful. You may very well not be overwhelmed by what I’ve been dealing with. It may have been too much for you earlier on than it was for me. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that the stress all became too much for me, and we’ve all been there, regardless of how we got there.
And finally, I haven’t shared all the specifics because these stories aren’t just mine to tell. They involve various people who may or may not want to share as publicly as I have. And Good for Her Soul is about so much more than just me. It’s about a community of women, all supporting and celebrating each other, but ultimately owning their own stories. And while my voice and my story are important here, I’m just one of many. But I’m grateful for your indulgence in reading so far and continuing along with me. I’m looking forward to sharing more as I process. And even more than that, I look forward to hearing from you about your stories as well.
Have something you’d like to share with a non-judgmental ear? Catherine is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.