On Becoming the Story

| By Paul | | Comments (9)

I have been having a difficult time knowing what to share here, how to share and whether I even want to share anything at all. It is not something new. I have struggled with this in various ways over the years.

I originally said to myself "What more do I have to say? I've already said everything." I have also seen that the blogosphere can be quite dysfunctional and I became scared of saying something that would create a conflict.

But in the end, those are just distractions. I know I have more to say because I keep writing in my private journal and often remark to myself "This would be nice to write about on the blog." And I have long known that the Internet is a unique medium with a lot of unpredictability. I have mostly been comfortable with that by working at maintaining healthy boundaries.

I also started having broader issues. This blog is one aspect of my life that I keep somewhat separate by being careful not to share, for example, my full name. But aside from that, I have been very honest about who I am, what I think and what I feel. From the beginning I said if I could not be honest, then what is the point in having a blog in the first place?

But that was nearly four years ago. While there has always been the question of what feels safe to share and what does not, my life is not the same now. Back then, my life was clearly more centered around my mental health. I was struggling to keep my life going. That made it much easier to make the decision on what to share. I had little to lose.

Now, my career has become more significant and required much more attention and I am doing more in my community, the largest of which is leading a public non-profit organization. Those have definitely driven me to be more private about my mental health.

It would be perfectly fine if the only outcome was not writing on the blog and I was comfortable with that decision. But I am not comfortable with that decision and the increased privacy has come at a cost elsewhere. In the last post, I asserted that my increased privacy did not mean I am ashamed of who I am. That is just not true.

I am stuck because that shame forces me to be mostly silent, when this is not my true nature. I have kept saying to myself that I am sharing in therapy and with my wife and with very close friends. But that is not enough. This blog has been hugely important for me and helped reduce the shame. It has been critical for me to have a voice. In fact, I have long known that my leap forward in healing coincided with speaking out on an abuse scandal that happened in my home town back in 2007.

On the whole, it has been incredibly helpful for me to repackage some of my longwinded views and awareness in my private journal into more concise statements here on the blog. For the past year or more, with my life becoming more private, my private journal has become merely a record of day-to-day happenings and is not helping me make sense of my life as much as it once did.

I had convinced myself it was not necessary. "I don't have time," I said. "And I am not struggling to keep my head above water." I also know that I have learned a lot. So I do a lot of things mindfully, do more soothing activities, and am more involved with my family and friends. Those are all positives and not to be minimized, but can lull one into complacency.

At some point, it would be nice if I could live the life I want to have (and deserve to have) in a more easy way. But it has slipped my mind that healing is a journey. A long journey. Probably a lifelong journey. And not a lifelong journey that you come back every now and again. Instead, I have been satisfied with where I am right now and have not really been pushing myself to heal more or achieve more internal awareness and personal insight.

It really only takes a second to reality check that I have plenty more work to do. I am still massively influenced by triggers, can quickly become emotionally destabilized or fragmented, struggle with recurring memories and flashbacks (even new ones), still have some significant issues with safety, and still very much am held back by negative core beliefs.

I cannot get around the fact that healing requires a focused type of effort.

It all hit me when I saw this TED talk. The story about Nick, the autistic boy who self-harmed, struck me the most. Giles Duley, the speaker and photographer, said: "He described his life as living downstairs at a party. He said he could hear the party in the kitchen. He felt like he was always trapped in the basement in his own little world. Wanted to be part of the party. But not able to walk upstairs." Then it also hit me that it took a personal tragedy for Duley to realize what was important in this world.

That is the power of telling ones' story. The extent of NIck's self-harming was not known and minimized and he did not get help. One man simply took a photograph of the boy's bloody face, shared it, and got the boy the help he needed.

One could argue that it was a small change for humanity even though it was a huge change for Nick. But what would our world be like if nobody shared their story?

The bottom line is that it is not about one's own individual impact. But rather it is the impact of collective voices. And this blog is one piece of that.

9 Comments


Laura said:

I'm glad to read this, Paul. Glad you'll continue to speak up here, and glad to have the reminder about the importance of setting aside time for healing.

Telling our story is hard - for me, it is hard to tell it to one person, for the first time ever. I've never even told it to myself.

Best to you,
Laura

CimmarianInk said:

It's good to see you Paul, it really is.

I think, for me anyway, it can be a challenge to know when my mind is taking a needed break from things or I'm distracting myself with other matters to avoid unpleasant thoughts.

I'm not remotely referring to you, so please don't get me wrong, I just felt an empathy with thinking to oneself that 'I'm doing well' or 'I'm too busy'...thoughts that can make me neglect healing work, if that makes sense.

If having the blog is helpful to you then that's what's important. I know that commenting on other blogs can cause trouble if the people you're communicating with aren't of a mind to listen to reason but your blog is yours and at least you can be honest here.

Tracie said:

I definitely struggle with the "how much is too much to share" question - on my blog, and in other online spaces. I find that the times I feel silenced about one thing (especially if something is happening that I've committed to not publicly write about), I will find myself silenced in all my writing. As if the one thing I can't (won't) write about is all I can think to write. It is very frustrating.

I will say that your voice here, the things you share and the posts you write, do make a difference.

Coach2 said:

Paul,
I agree with two parts here.

First, your blog. Important in exploring the heart of DID with wit, art and authenticity that others may reflect and grow.

Second, the collective voice from readers. Making a difference, I consider that many of us who read here are in a unique place and time for defining ourselves with DID. When else in history has a human phenomena (surviving abuse that was untold) able to talk, to hear others words and experiences after we reamined alive?

I can guarantee if doubts of that uniqueness or if it's significance escapes us, the "we" of our collective voice has lost our first step in making a difference.

Take care and thanks for having this blog.

Ann said:

Hi Paul,

We’re still new here. When I “signed-on” to your page I decided to listen to the video because I do like TED talks and I thought if this person was going through the effort of putting it here, it must be for a good purpose. It is now on my path too and it’s better to go through then around. Plus, we’d been considering more the importance and value in stories. Long time ago our doctor talked to us about each creating our own mythology. Basically, it was how we came to belong, or how on a day to day basis belonging is important to “being.” I still believe those thoughts to hold significant value. Meeting you and other multiples is new to me, but “story-telling” has been a way of our life for a long while now. I would never undermine its value and it’s good to hear you finding that too. “Tell-on my dear! Tell-on!” It is a treat to again cross paths.

Our best,
Anns

castorgirl said:

Hi Paul,

This is something that I regularly struggle with... how much to share, and how to share it. I often find, that for myself, this is tied to dysfunction that I see around me, and how that effects me. My reaction is often one of fear - fear of being seen as dysfunctional, or just being seen at all...

While I hope that you will do whatever is right for you in regards to what, and how you write on your blog; I'm glad to see you writing. There is power in sharing our story - for ourselves, and for others. It doesn't have to be as dramatic as the image of Nick to be powerful... any connection can change us.

I get a sense of hope when reading this post... a commitment to the work still ahead of you, and a gratefulness to the work already done...

Take care,
CG

Paul said:

Thank you to everyone for the kind comments. Yes, there is hope in this post. Though it's been hard to hold onto. I guess one thing I didn't say is the flip side of sharing our story. That none of us can heal if we are silent. Even sharing our story with ourself is a big step (because that's the step to acknowledging). We build connections one link at a time.

OneSurvivor said:

Thank you for sharing this. It is a powerful reminder to make a difference in some way.

Ivory said:

I, too, have avoided my blog in hopes of averting someones curiosity about who I "really" am. Truth is, if anyone in my workplace found out about my mental issues, I'd be canned. Yet, in the field I'm in, nearly everyone of us has abuse stories - that's how we are so good at what we do. We have been there. I don't think it's embarrassment that keeps us from writing here if someone knew us, but the stigmatism that comes from the result of lack of knowledge about our problems. -- no one wants to really know about it, yet they all have an opinion once the damage is already done... Hang in there.

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