While driving alone, do you find yourself mindlessly scanning radio stations hoping to find something, anything that grabs your attention?
I sure do.
I’ll tap that seek button until a few notes of a song or words of a news story grab enough of my attention to satisfy that sound void in my car.
A few days ago I followed that routine on my way home from a support group meeting. My final radio stop was NPR perhaps because the lead-in for the next story warned of graphic content. When I hear a teaser like that, my curiosity kicks in.
Little did I know that what I was about to listen to would pull me from my usual post-meeting thoughts straight into the life of a woman who shared what she described was her turning point story.
As filmmaker and visual storyteller, Barbara Weiner, unfolded details of what happened to her thirty-one years ago, I didn’t feel connected because of them, I felt connected because what she went through to accept them.
The cadence of her voice was startling familiar. She spoke of perfectionism, the fear of exposing parts of her truth that would shine a light where she felt bruised and ashamed. She spoke of a desperate desire to appear put-together so others would see her life in order when inside she felt scattered, disordered, and alone.
As her story reached the point where a turnaround was looming, she spoke of how she found someone who, after hours of conversation, made a promise that she would not be abandoned no matter what was in that emotional box she neatly packed away to avoid falling apart.
That confirmation safety-net allowed her to step out from behind the curtain of shame she believed protected her from feeling what she was terrified to acknowledge. As those words tumbled from her mouth faster than she’s imagined they could, she felt relief from the release.
And that was how she began to heal.
In time she took her whole, unedited, for-mature-audiences-only story to others who needed to share their own. She paid attention with intention to what they said regardless of circumstances because that wasn’t the point. What mattered was the freedom shared once the truth was told.
Eventually she found her broken pieces held in place by those connecting stories and now, when she stands back from her own, she sees the beautiful mosaic of her beautiful life.
I’m grateful I get that. I’m grateful I get her. I’m grateful I get the process.
On a daily basis I have the privilege to listen as others empty pockets where they’ve kept their secrets and broken pieces. Through that interaction, I give them, and myself, permission to heal.
Their stories, pasted with mine, lock together what felt broken. We’re bonded by the strong and powerful glue of “me too.”
A Moment to Breathe
Are pieces of you that feel broken? Are you wondering like Humpty Dumpty once did, that if long-held protective parts of you were to fall, could even the greatest of friends and family put you together again? Take a slow deep breath and consider if maybe they aren’t meant to. Maybe the ones who are meant to help are those who will you in the eye to confirm they’ve stood where you stand. Find them. They are out there. All that’s required is to start talking. Those who have what you need will listen, nod, and offer you two words that is the glue to fix your broken pieces. They’ll simply say, “me too.”