It took five years until I was ready to own my story.
It wasn’t until five years after my accident that I felt comfortable speaking and sharing that part of my story. I hid behind getting my masters degree and motherhood, hoping my busyness would help everyone forget that I had been in brain therapy for six months.
“If I just do what I did before how I did before,” I thought, “maybe no one will notice. Maybe everyone will forget I am a head trauma survivor and treat me like they used to.”
But, during those years when I tried to gloss over that part of my story, I kept being asked to talk about it. I didn’t get asked to speak about playing soccer in college, why I converted to the Catholic faith, or what it was like to be a campus missionary.
I got asked to share about my scars.
And, while I was still scared of being tagged as a TBI survivor, I began to see that every part of my story, even and especially that part, could be used for good if I let it.
Owning Your Story Is Scary, But…
“Vulnerability is not weakness. It is the most accurate way to measure courage. We can measure how brave you are with how vulnerable you are willing to be.”Brené Brown
As I hit publish on my first post, I was terrified.
As I stepped up to the podium for the first time, my hands shook.
As I sat on hold for my first SiriusXM show, my heart raced like it never has before.
But this is my story and I’m so glad I’m done hiding it.
My most popular posts were the hardest ones to write. My most popular talks are the most vulnerable ones. Choosing to be vulnerable and show up when you don’t know the outcome, while terrifying, is a true gift.
We all need to know we’re not alone in our brokenness.
Why You Should Own Your Story
- It’s freeing.
I spoke to a group of seemingly happy and very involved teenagers about how we can stand with the suffering. After I spoke, they shared their losses of family and friends, accidents and loneliness, to name a few. Their vulnerability reminded me how much we are ALL fighting unseen wounds. Hiding pain is exhausting. Find safe people and unburden yourself. It’s OK to not be OK.
2. Real friendships are made.
This week after my healing retreat talks went up, my Inboxes were flooded with stories of anxiety, suicide, seizures, addictions, and people feeling alone in their faith. People vulnerably shared what they’re going through and how they are struggling to see God in it. They shared how frightening the unknown is and asked for prayers. It was an honor to join with them in prayer.
So many insecurities get in the way of us owning our imperfections. When we lay down our filters, though, we become more human and people relate way more often than we think. Real, authentic friendships and community can’t happen until we do so.
3. It gets easier.
The first time you open up is always the hardest. In time, you learn how to do it in a way that connects with other people’s pain.
4. Every single part of your story can be used for good.
The messy, frustrating, and broken parts? The joyful, encouraging, and hopeful parts? The scars? God can use all of it if you let him.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”-2 Corinthians 12:9-10