The Paradox of Sharing

I watched a travel show the other day where the host went to a country where I had also visited. The show was fabulous and I was completely engaged. Although about five minutes into the episode I noticed that there was also a part of me that was thoughtfully activated. Although I was enjoying the repartee the host was having with the locals, an uneasy quiet settled deep inside because the memories of what happened to me, were the opposite of what was being shown on screen as a happy tourist destination. For sure, the places that he was promoting ARE  happy tourist destinations, they just weren’t for me. I was forced to travel to that location, and that experience forever changed how I view the world.

As I watched the episode, I felt validated that the places I had remembered going to were the places he was also visiting. I would say aloud, “I was there, and there, and There! It felt like a shared experience. Except that my experiences were dark and I met people who did not have my best interest at heart or people who looked through me as if I was invisible.

This had me thinking about the paradox of sharing. The definition that I’m using for my thought process is, A situation or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities. 

As a trauma survivor, we learn pretty quick what we can share and not share with our family and friends. I have always been of the mind, that this is absolutely healthy, and I want my support to have good healthy boundaries. I want to keep a semblance of “normalcy” in my everyday life. I definitely share, but only tell the most intimate and shocking parts of my trauma to my therapist. I have a therapist to help me process, accept, and teach me the tools to live with the effects of my trauma.

But, sometimes its hard to not be able to really participate in a conversation about a shared travel destination, holiday traditions, past birthdays, or just childhood observations. I have traveled to many, many places in my life. When someone talks about taking a tour of the swamps of the south, I may have also gone to the exact same region. I didn’t see Alligators peeking their eyes above the water, I experienced other things. Let me tell you, that if I share even a bit of what I experienced there, it is an instant conversation stopper.  Where I find myself enjoying the persons’ vacation tales, they wind up feeling uncomfortable that the underbelly of what people are capable of, is darkening the joy of a fun-in-the-sun travel destination. It’s a paradox when it comes to sharing.

Now I have had a plethora of really good, priceless, life-changing, wonderful experiences in my life that I can freely share and relate to my friends, family, and people on the street. I really don’t have a shortage of those at all. What has me thinking about this, is that sometimes when I’m having a conversation with someone about birthdays or family of origin traditions, I would like to share my experiences too. Not for shock value, but because they are my experiences. That is the extent of it. To me, I would sometimes like to say, Oh yeah, I remember when I was sixteen and …, but that is simply not an appropriate share. For me, it was just my life, for others it is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. There have been many appropriate times and places that I have shared, but it is usually not in the middle of a lighthearted walk down memory lane.

This is simply my observation the last few days after watching that travel show. Survivors of trauma, just like people who live with chronic pain and illness learn to adapt. I do believe that people who are in a friendship/relationship want to hear other’s experiences. The responsibility is on us to navigate our lives and share our stories. It helps those close to us understand the lens we look at the world through, and why we may respond to things the way we do. I know that the feedback I get from people, is, “Oh that makes a lot of sense now!”

I wonder, as I write this, that maybe this paradox in sharing is just human nature. Our different life experiences and how we feel about them may be what determines whether we share or stay silent. Are we afraid of being a “Debby Downer?” Or are do we say, “Wow, well you know what happened to me on my birthdays every year?” I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure what most people do. I’m curious, what do you do?

Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

 

 

 

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58 thoughts on “The Paradox of Sharing

  1. I connected so much with this post, I have traveled a few times but I usually try not to talk so much about it unless I been ask for my experiences, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank You for sharing! It is a rare thing to find the people we can trust with our deepest memories. It sounds like prayer brings you a lot of peace and comfort. That’s wonderful!!

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  3. Thank you for sharing such honest thoughts from your own life, Alexis. I haven’t taken time to think about that…any negative memories I have, I tend to keep inside or speak in prayer — spilling them to God when I’m alone. I would share them to a human only if I had a trustworthy, interested, caring listener. And, that is a rare thing to find.

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  4. I just applied to be trained as a peer support specialist. There is a peer-to-peer support organization in the Twin Cities that I did a workshop for a few months ago. I went to coffee with the director to learn more about what peer support really is and she suggested I apply to the training after I showed an interest. In MN the training and certification is sponsored by the dept of human services. Im not sure how other states make sure people get trained, but there must be something? Maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s true, it’s not easy to find someone safe and able to hear the truth of our story. That’s why I don’t share much of my story either. These days I’m exploring ways to tell my story so that it feels to me like I’m telling the truth but still shields the listener. It would be nice if it worked and we could all learn to do that. I’ve been thinking lately of starting a support group, because there is a need for it, but I’m not sure I can survive hearing a high volume of truth because of the triggers. Has anyone else tried telling their story that way? Did it work for you?

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  6. Thank you for sharing Bryan. There is one song in particular that is triggering for me. Its a classic and long, so everyone knows most of the words and gets really into it when it comes on the radio.
    There have been situations where I cant escape the song when it comes on, so I just breathe my way through it and try to keep focused on the here and now.
    Its amazing how things like music, smells, nature sounds can bring on the memories.
    Thanks again for sharing!

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  7. I think I’ve gotten enough face-to-face feedback that its hard for people to hear. In the course of just having a normal conversation (“ oh when I went there I saw…”) I was just caught up in the general conversation with someone, just talking and not thinking it was a big deal because its my life experiences. But the sadness and tears in others eyes were a big non-verbal clue, and then the conversation steers from just general chit-chat to something else, which I understand completely.
    Its something I never gave any thought to, because I adjusted to that, until I saw that travel show and shared with a friend how it was for me when I was watching it. He was the one to say, how strange it must be to have the same travel experience and not really be able to share the truth of what happened to you in the same places. Thats when the lightbulb went off. Its been interesting to read in the comments how common this is with trauma survivors. I wonder if the women you interviewed for your books experience the same thing? Would be an interesting question.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is an interesting topic. Music holds many memories for me. Most of them good, but there are certain songs I cannot listen to. Like you, certain things bring back bad memories.

    I was once at a party where someone got on a piano and played one of those songs. Nobody knew my experience so naturally they sang along. I excused myself and went outside until the song was over.

    Sometimes we have to keep it to ourselves and not ruin things for other people. These are our memories not theirs.

    Excellent topic. Thank you for doing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s probably no surprise, but I usually share the truth of whatever. I think the difference is that I don’t live with PTSD, though. To me that’s a bit different because you could also trigger yourself, I suppose?

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  10. I do that too, but mostly it’s about my blindness and how it happened. I didn’t think about it till i read this post. It does make people uncomfortable , and i think it was the sympathy and pity that made me stop talking about it when relevant topics came up.

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  11. That seems to be common. I think as long as we arent isolating ourselves because of it, then it seems to be just the way it is. This has been interesting for me to really acknowledge the last dew days. It wasn’t something I was necessarily conscious about doing. Good luck with your new book!

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  12. Denise, thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. Its funny when I wrote this yesterday I told my husband that I didnt know if anyone would feel the same way or get that it feels so vulnerable as a survivor to risk sharing. It turns out it seems to be a common bond. It is a loneliness sometimes isn’t it. Thanks for commenting and have a good night. We are entering a deep freeze here with -25 forecasted. So we are all hunkered down for the next couple if days. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  13. yes, yes, yes ! I understand completely!
    I am constantly catching myself, “uh. No, can’t share that story, nope not that one either.” and I often just listen because I don’t feel safe/comfortable/appropriate to share my experience. It is one more way our trauma keeps us separated from “normal”. I think as I continue to bring safe people into my circle I will have to be satisfied with sharing with only them. It is lonely sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank You! And thank you for stopping by and letting me know you came from Linda’s blog. Im always excited when we connect with other bloggers through mutually followed sites. It builds our fabulous community.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. ibikenyc

    I got here because Linda Lee reposted this in her blog “A Blog About Healing From PTSD.”

    I go through this EXACT thing all the time. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps me so much to know I’m not alone.

    I’m glad you have plenty of good stuff to share, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It sounds like you have developed some really good insight. I totally agree about fearing triggers. Although they can be frustrating for me, I am accepting and compassionate with myself. 😊

    Like

  17. I used to think being triggered was to be avoided at all costs

    It led to a six month stint of agoraphobia

    Even in my dark garage by myself thoughts still triggered my out of control nervous system

    Now in my
    Group I welcome someone being triggered in front of others.

    It is the perfect opportunity to breathe, stay present and observe our inner world

    My fight or flight mechanism does not fire with a
    Trigger now

    He has become my friend but the thoughts and cognitive engine still can throw me sideways for a day or two

    It is similar to
    My chronic pain

    Pain management is not the elimination of pain it is the facilitating enduring some pain to live as fully as
    Possible

    If you fear your triggers they will rule ur life

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you for sharing your experience Marty. I really appreciate it! I agree that for some (including myself) sharing with my family caused significant relationship changes. Especially with my sister. Deciding what to share, with who and if any time is appropriate is extremely difficult to navigate as trauma survivors. Staying in the present is definitely the goal. I get really frustrated when I get triggered, but then I give myself a break and try to enjoy the here and now.

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  19. Knowing to share or not to share

    Family is a mine field for those abused by their caregivers.

    For me sharing my abuse cost me my relationship with my brothers and sisters.

    I am disowned because if my abuse is true their paradigm of the perfect family would disappear

    I had a choice and I chose to heal and not be exposed to further abuse

    Think about every big holiday or every big sporting event where we are told family is everything

    For many of us family brutalized us as a small child

    I never share any gory details in my group or in my blog

    We heal by staying present and let the trauma thoughts die a quick death

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Eliza Ayres

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    If you can’t share your experiences with family and friends, share them with yourself by journaling out the deepest, darkest memories. Then burn the papers or keep them. Writing helps move the energies and suddenly you feel lighter, different, and are not as triggered by revisiting old places where these events once took place…

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    I am reblogging this post by Alexis Rose, because I believe that most trauma survivors can relate to the dilemma of trying to figure out how much you should share about your history with acquaintances, friends, and family members. I imagine that most of us have experienced that awkward moment where you’re on the verge of jumping into a conversation about a particular place, or a holiday, or being a certain age, or going through a rite of passage — but you keep your thoughts to yourself, because you know that what you were about to say will have the effect of a stinky skunk crashing a dinner party.

    Comments are closed here, please visit and comment on Alexis’ blog. Thanks for stopping by and God Bless! (In case you’ve been wondering about what happened to Part Two of Finding My Father — I’m still working up the courage to write it…. 😂)

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank You for sharing your experiences. I believe its helpful for everyone when let each other know what other connection options there are out there. I also tend to minimize when I share something with someone. And I most always end with, “but theres a happy ending!” Which really trivializes the whole thing. Its a process isn’t it!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. i got a lot out of reading this piece – my way of recounting things has always involved being a bit jokey about dark things which is not healthy for me in that it trivialises my experience. i have never been very good at boundaries in sharing and have often over disclosed to people i don’t know well, and regretted it later. i am in a 12 step fellowship which has far more opportunities for disclosure in safe environments, either one to one or meetings, and when i can afford it i also have therapy which is much more targeted. thanks for your wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. That moment when I’m about to jump into a conversation about a place or a holiday or being a certain age or going through a particular rite of passage — and then I stop myself because I know that what I was about to say will have the effect of a skunk crashing a dinner party.

    Yes, I can so relate, Alexis.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Alexis, today’s post was be you, all of you. I wrote about transparency, etc.

    I just read your post and would definitely not share something that one is not ready to share for whatever personal reasons. It’s about self love first and then allowing the transparency that one is comfortable sharing. After all, we all know no one’s life is perfect and some things are best kept to ourselves.

    Great post. Triple hug Alexis 😁💛✌

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I totally understand that. There are many things that I wouldn’t share with anyone too. For me its a matter of trust. I just cant imagine trusting anyone that much. I guess thats a direct effect of the trauma, and I know its okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I tend to be a very private person. In this age of blabbing one’s Business all over social media is not for me. After some of the confessions on social media most of it is TMI Too Much Information. For me best to operate on a need to know basis. If telling my story causes me to relive a painful past that will do me no good bringing back emotionally disturbing memories.
    I will take my secrets to the grave.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. This is definitely a tough one. I’m all for sharing our experiences with loved ones however there are things that have occurred in my life which I have kept secret & can’t imagine ever sharing. There’s things I want to forget myself so sharing won’t help…

    Liked by 3 people

  29. thank you my dear, yes i did get my snow, i am slowly getting to post on some of that, in no chronological order i am writing about my travels. thank you for reading, i know our connection is deep, we don’t really need the comments you know, reading your posts takes me straight to the heart of you. i am now warm in your hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Gina, I have been following your posts and waiting until you got back to the equator to connect. I just read your short story and the little hands poem at the end. I wished I could sit next to you on the plane and give you a hug. I hope you got to experience snow while you were here in the states. We may be getting 9 inches tonight!! Thank you for your beautiful and kind words today. Im just so grateful that we are connected the past few years. You are in my heart dear friend. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  31. hello my dear Alexis, I am back from travels, travel to a place i have wanted to go to so much for a long time. and i made it. but it was bittersweet and like you there are parts i cannot share for certain reasons, as much as i would like to i can’t it was the not so good parts of the trip. i was moved by your words as i read this contemplating my own journeys, not all have good memories associated with it. and i realise it is not the place that created the bad memories it was the people. but like you i do want to share about it to help others process some of the hurt they may be going through. maybe by sharing we can help one another. this is for now my favourite post from you, it comes at the right time. your words flowed to my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I think it’s probably human nature to make decisions about what’s ok to say when, to whom, and in what context. Maybe what’s hardest is to find a healthy balance between letting things out and keeping things in. I tend to lean too far in the direction of keeping things in.

    Liked by 1 person

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