How often have you been stuck in a situation and you think, "God if someone could just understand what I'm going through then things would at least feel better"? What about that moment when you're struggling with something and you're completely embarrassed by it so you keep it inside? Then, one day, you hear someone else talking about the fact that they've struggled with the EXACT SAME THING and you start to cry because oh-my-God-I'm-not-alone.
I have a little secret for you: you are not experiencing anything that someone, somewhere, somehow has not already experienced. Seriously. No matter how unique you think your situation is, someone knows how you feel. But you'll never know that if you keep everything inside.
When my first husband committed suicide and I was pregnant with my third child and 31 years old, I felt completely alone in the world. I felt like no one could possibly understand what I was going through.
It was awful.
Then I opened up. A little bit here. A little bit there.
I joined a social network specifically for widows and found other survivors of suicide. They understood.
I met other pregnant widows. They understood.
I met other young widows. They understood.
I met another young widow of suicide who was pregnant when her husband died. She really understood.
I transferred this to my children and went out of my way to show them that they were not the only kids to go through something like this. That others understood.
That they didn't have to feel alone.
It was an amazing experience and the women that I have connected with just through that outreach are now wonderful friends and companions as I continue my journey.
This was not my first experience with learning to relate to others. I've been in similar situations (both in receiving and giving understanding) for a long time now and I've always valued the art of connecting with others. And it is an art.
But the pain during this time in my life was so great that I convinced myself that no one could fathom it. No one would get it. No one would want to talk about it even if they did get it.
That couldn't have been further from the truth. Women who go through something hard, something traumatic, something gut-wrenching don't survive it by keeping quiet. Perhaps they continue to exist, but they aren't the same. The ones who flourish and grow and thrive are the ones that share their pain, their knowledge, and their heart with others. Because when you share that burden, it's suddenly lighter. And they get that.
But it starts with the idea that the world will continue to spin. That time has not stopped. That there are others who can give them wisdom and who need them to share their own.
That they are not alone.
And neither are you.