Why we need each other's stories

When times are hard, just when we need support, we shut down and don't reach out for help as we think no one else will understand or know...which is why we need to share our stories.

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Last week I wrote about how we are going to relationships therapy.

Why write about something so personal?

The answer came from Martin Sheen who was talking about his political and social work during his interview on the podcast ‘On Being’  and said that stories ‘de-isolate’.  He talked about how through his film work he tried to ‘de-isolate’ people through story.

These blogs and the books I write de-isolate me as I write them, I feel like I am talking to something through words on the page.  Even though I don’t know who will read each blog, I make the assumption that if you have clicked through this far, then you are doing it because you are interested and so will read on.  And so for me, telling my story is de-isolating in that I have a space to think aloud, to share my experience and my thoughts and then to hope that they are received in some way, by some one.  It makes me feel less alone.  It helps me get things clear.

I also know that the blogs de-isolate some of you, because you write back and say ‘Me too’, ‘That helps me’, ‘That is my experience too’.

In this world of the ever present perfect, air-brushed image where anxiety, depression and isolation are on the rise because none of us can live up to the images we are presented with on our screens, it seems even more important to share our stories of the nitty gritty of our lives. How else do we learn how to navigate the tricky spots in our lives when we no longer have the village or tribal elders to turn to?

When I read books or watch or listen,  I have no interest in the pretense of love islands or jungle celebrity, they teach me nothing about how to live and be.  But when I listen to my coaching clients, when my sixth form tell me about their weekends, when I listen to my friends, I learn from them, how life is, how to could be.

We create connection through our stories, we see each other more deeply and we know that we are not alone with this thing we are going through, whatever it is, which feels so difficult and often scary and makes us feel so alone.

So, I share my stories of my divorce if it helps those who are going through it now, I have many a parenting catastrophe to share to reassure those mothers behind me that they are not the first to wonder where their clean hair, full sentences and sanity have gone.  I’m not ashamed to talk about how a decade ago I had time off work with stress, if it helps people know they will get through a similar experience of their own.

I grew up with the message not to ‘wash my dirty laundry in public’ and so went through my own parent’s divorce without support, feeling full of shame, feeling different, shut out from families somehow and alone.  So this isn’t how I have brought up my own kids and yes sometimes it makes them cringe, but I would rather than having toxic taboos and isolating secrets and shame.

Even during experiences like this current one, the couples therapy, which is happening right now, in live time, without the benefit of any hindsight of my own, I am happy to share bits of what we are doing and am so grateful when people say; ‘We did that too, and this is how it was for me’.

‘Tis common’ said Hamlet of death, and so it is with divorce, parenting, work, health.  So much of what we go through in our life, someone we know will have had a similar experience too.  How much richer we would be if we could share our stories and together weave new meanings, new narratives, new perspectives from the collective wisdom in all our experiences.

I spent the years after my parent’s divorce in my bedroom alone, too shy to go out, feeling ugly, spotty, gangly, suffering from cystitis, which I only learned years later, was triggered by stress. Isolated.

So no wonder then, that now I listen to people’s stories for a living and that I want to share my own, because I don’t want people to be sitting in their bedrooms, feeling like they have to get through a hard time on their own.

xx Julie

If you haven’t checked out the Freedom At Fifty On-Line course then take a look here.  I’ll be teaching live and it is packed with tools and information to get you living the life you always wanted and making your own dreams come true.

Thank you Jon Lydon for the photo

Go to the profile of Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni

Writer, Listener, Teacher, Dr

I am a stress and well-being coach who supports women to ask for what they want and look after their own needs so that they can hear their heart's call and live a more empowered and meaningful life. I draw on experience and training in bereavement, domestic abuse, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, Transactional Analysis and other therapeutic approaches to get you loving you. I have 2 sons who I love loads (and who sometimes drive me crazy). I'm a Barefoot Trained coach and I got a distinction for my post-grad cert in 2011. I have a PhD which led me to look at Emotional Intelligence in schools and I have a number of academic and professional qualifications in various types of therapy. I have practiced meditation since I went to India over 25 years ago and I'm currently training to be a yoga teacher. I have written a couple of books, I teach psychology and work with a large variety of coaching clients.

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