"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard."
~Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions
I had the pleasure, on Saturday morning, of speaking with Christina Ferguson, a betrayed wife and creator of an event to help betrayed wives heal. And one of the things we both lamented was the silencing of our stories.
It's a big part of why she created this upcoming event and, of course, a big part of why I created this site. I absolutely am convinced that by telling our stories, we begin to heal. By claiming our experience as real, as important, as ours to tell, it begins a powershift, in which our story no longer controls us but rather, the other way around.
The world does not make it easy. There are plenty of barriers in the way. Whether it's our own desire to protect our partner from others' judgement, our own fear of judgement, a determination to protect our children or simply a lifetime of believing that we shouldn't air our dirty laundry, staying silent often becomes our default response.
But what Rebecca Solnit reminds us with her quote is that there's a price we pay for our silence. Indeed, silence IS the price. Silence is repression, it is an eraser of our experience (though it magnifies our pain), it is the cry that goes unheard and therefore, unresponded to. Making our cry audible says that we exist, that we matter. It insists on a response.
And that, too, can be troublesome. By making our cry audible and calling out for a response, we risk blame, judgment, rejection.
And yet, can anything the world says to us be worse than what we're saying to ourselves? As my brilliant therapist used to remind me, it isn't what others are saying that's the problem, it's that I'm agreeing with them, it's what I'm saying.
What's more, despite our fears, if we choose whom to trust with our stories, we're far more likely to be greeted with compassion, warmth, and a genuine appreciation for being trusted with our pain. As I am lucky enough to see every single day on this site, sharing our stories creates community. It lets us lay down our pain, even just for a few minutes while others pick it up and carry it for us. "Me too," they say. Or "I've been thinking about you and hoping you're okay."
And in that moment, with our story trusted to those who know better than anyone just how badly we're hurting, we exhale. The vise around our hearts loosens just a bit. And, for a moment, we sense the power of our stories to help us heal, and to help others heal too.
If you want to share your story, there's no "right" way to do it. Post it in the comments, or find one of the threads that suits and post there. I read every single story and hold it in my heart, even if I don't have time to respond to every one. And the others will pull you close. You are welcome here. You have found a safe space. You are among friends.