“It was hard to share my story and air my dirty laundry.”

I heard these words as I listened to a podcast and I immediately stopped what I was doing to take them in. “And air my dirty laundry.”

It’s hard to share our stories. It’s awkward to share things we’ve done that we wish we hadn’t. It’s uncomfortable to share things that have been done to us. If there’s something we’re struggling with at a certain moment in time, we keep it to ourselves.

Our stories can fill us with shame and embarrassment. So we stay silent and we hold them inside. We present our curated life on Instagram and Facebook and hide the parts that aren’t Pinterest perfect. We view other curated lives and try to hide our “dirty laundry” even more.

Our stories can fill us with shame and embarrassment. We don't want to share our story because we feel we're all alone. The truth is: we're not alone. And our stories have the power to connect us.

It’s isolating. I’ve heard of people who don’t want to share their story because they feel like they’re all alone. They don’t think people will understand what they’re going through currently or have been through in the past.

But our stories have the power to connect us.

Because the truth is: we aren’t alone.

You aren’t alone.

In the writing world you’ll always hear: there are no new stories, just new ways of telling those stories. And I believe the same is true for our real life, personal stories. There are no new stories. Our experiences will be unique to us, but the events that make up those stories–misplaced trust, mental health, addiction, unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy loss, abuse–aren’t new. We aren’t the only ones who have experienced these things.

Sometimes it’s painful to share our stories and when the wounds are fresh it’s wise to be careful about who we open up to. But it’s worthwhile to find the safe people we can talk with and connect to. And maybe speaking can be part of healing.

Talking about our experiences won’t take them away, but it’ll show us that we aren’t alone. It’ll show those who come after us that they aren’t alone; that they have a safe place they can turn to.

When I heard that woman refer to her story as her “dirty laundry” my first thought was: maybe the first baby step to breaking down these barriers is to re-frame the way we think about our stories.

They aren’t our “dirty laundry.” They’re our stories. And our stories have shaped us and made us who we are.

Our stories can fill us with shame and embarrassment. We don't want to share our story because we feel we're all alone. The truth is: we're not alone. And our stories have the power to connect us.