It’s in the sharing

I wasn’t always a sharer. You know those people, the sharers. The people who are generous in being transparent about things they’ve gone through in life or wisdom they’ve earned. Not platitudes, not something they’ve read—the people who have really lived and been through some challenges.

I was raised by my mother to be stoic. Private. Strong.

It wasn’t until I was going through a life storm—one where the whole house of cards gets thrown into the air and you just know it’s landing in a completely new configuration—that I become more of a sharer. This blog is one of the ways I do that. It still gives me a vulnerability headache (think ice cream headache, only it lasts longer). But I think the value in experiences is that other people learn on us, draw strength from us.

When I was going through this life storm, people talked. They always do, right? So, more people than I’d care to know knew what my family was experiencing. I hated that.

And then.

At a school event, in a quiet hallway, it started. A fellow mother said, “I envy you. I’ve wanted to get divorced for so long. I’m miserable. We lead this quiet, miserable life and no one knows it. I’m just waiting until the kids graduate. But I don’t know if I can hold on that long.”

In the grocery store, near the cereal, I am told by another person, “My brother killed himself. I didn’t know. I knew he struggled but I didn’t KNOW. Some days, I just don’t want to get out of bed.”

It continued. And as I wrote this blog, late at night, bleary-eyed, I’d get emails and messages from people all over the world. From Scotland, and Prague and Argentina and South Africa. “I hurt so much.” “I feel so alone.” “Why is it taking so long? Why can’t I go back to my old self?”

Ah, I thought. So this is what sharers do. They listen and they hold confidences and they say, “You are not alone. I’m here too.”

I was not sure this was better than being stoic, to be honest. I think my mother’s way was easier. But this new way was richer. That I knew. Richer, if not simpler or more convenient.

Why does it take someone knowing that you are supremely vulnerable, at a really rough patch, to feel safe enough to be vulnerable themselves? And the bigger question for me now—how do I continue to carry that aura of safety for people without being swallowed up by their admissions? How do I live in joy and allow room for their pain?

In complete honesty, I sometimes am impatient with friends who get stuck. The friends who make the same stupid choice again and again, repeat the same pattern, and then cry into their spilled milk about the misery of it all. I am no saint. I only have so much bandwidth and it’s not for people who won’t thoughtfully consider the pain life presents them with and move beyond it.

But neither can I stomach those who are complacent. Those whose major concern is their fantasy football stats and their next tropical destination. Honey, is it salmon or chicken tonight? No thank you.

Do I sound judgmental? I hope not. I realize I’m walking a really tiny path now. I think I started on a major thoroughfare and have been dropping compadres as I go.

But you know what? It’s nice up here, at altitude. Some days I think the path is too steep but others—oh, other days I just marvel at the view.

I don’t think we’re here to play fantasy games or do the dishes. Those things are part of life, yes, but we’re here for a purpose. And I’ve come to believe it’s in the sharing.

I’m not talking that person at book club who makes everyone uncomfortable revealing things far too intimate to share within the group. The one who monopolizes every chat with the life story she is sure should be a movie in which she plays a starring role.

I mean people who, uncomfortable as it might make them, use what they have gone through to help others up the path. My friend, for example,  who shares a very hard experience in her life with people in group settings so young women can learn on her and realize they’re not alone. Is she impacting millions? Not on your life. But she impacts those put in front of her. And if we each did that—wow, the sea change that could occur. It’s so easy to remain quiet and invulnerable as someone shows you their authentic, messy experience. But in my book, that makes you a major ass. People are placed in your path for a reason. Use it.

My thoughts this weekend, amongst the dishes and the bill paying and the gardening.

It’s in the sharing, folks. It always has been. It just takes some of us longer to figure that out.

45 Comments Add yours

  1. Kathy says:

    You expressed this so succinctly–thank you for your words. I can share deeply with friends–in person and otherwise–but sometimes struggle about sharing too intimately on online formats. There would be so many stories to tell but most involve family and friends who would not appreciate their stories being told. It’s a balancing act…. xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Kathy, you’re speaking my truth! There are so many things I could and want to share but most of them involve people that I care about and they would be hurt. You know that feeling of sharing online and then having a vulnerability headache? I’m trying to walk that fine line. It is a tough one. Balancing act is an apt description. Thank you for reading and commenting. Here’s to figuring this out together!

  2. What a great post. It made me almost gleeful, Kay. I guess kindness and courage make me feel that way. I couldn’t agree more that life isn’t about fantasy football and doing dishes. Those things don’t matter a moment after we finish doing them, but sharing (listening, empowering, holding other’s stories and finding commonality) is the stuff of immortality. The kindness of an open heart and fearless compassion is a gift that keeps on giving. I’d suggest that clining to invulnerability makes us more vulnerable, and sharing makes up strong. ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh, “the stuff of immortality.” Love that. And I couldn’t agree more. Glad I could bring some glee into your day😀.

      1. When I was studying grief counseling one of the statistics that we frequently heard was that each death, on average, will have a significant impact on the lives of eight people. I think that applies to kindness too. Helping one person will improve the lives of eight people, merely by association. And each of them will, in turn, spread a trace goodwill to eight more people and so on. We never know how far a simple act of kindness will spread.

      2. candidkay says:

        Oh, what a wonderful way to visualize the ripple effect! And talk about exponential effects. Get just a few layers out and you’re talking about impacting quite a few people :-).

  3. Kristine, this post is so amazing. I could not agree with your words more. All of us are going through something in this life, and it often feels like we are all alone when we are, so thank god for those brave enough to share. It’s possible to survive and move forward, and the vulnerability of others is what provides us with that hope. Thank you for always sharing. You are incredible. ❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      And you, my dear, are always so kind in your comments❤️. Thank you! The beautiful thing about swimming in this ether is that even if no one close to you has gone through anything remotely close to what you’ve gone through, there is always someone out there in the world who has.

  4. aprilgarner says:

    This is why I like reading your posts — because you share your vulnerability, and I guess I could always sense that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to you. Maybe because I am the same; I was raised to be stoic and not “air my dirty laundry,” but when I got divorced 15 years ago, my dirty laundry was aired for me. You’re right; the sharing lets others know they are not alone, they are not broken, they are just human. Being human means sometimes suffering, sometimes at the hands of our own bad choices. We can commiserate, learn and eventually move on.

    1. candidkay says:

      What a wonderful thing to say about my writing. I hadn’t thought about the energy that we bring to it and how that impacts how it’s read. Sometimes people can share things that might be tough to read or hear, and yet, it’s helpful. And other times, you want to cringe because they are bringing anger or hubris to the table.

  5. markbialczak says:

    I will once again thank you for being you, Kay, a caring and sharing person whose words here on WP have enriched my life in many ways.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Mark! For the kind words and for being such a generous sharer of your own life on your blog. We are all the richer for it.

      1. markbialczak says:

        Thank you for your kind words, Kay. I’m glad we’ve become WP friends.

  6. Yes it is Kristine, in the sharing we allow not only our connection to be felt… realising we are not alone to figure things out, but our imperfections, which has a way of releasing our tensions and makes us feel better💃🏼🕺❤️

    If we’re lucky and listen to the one sharing we can realise each experience is unique and depending on our choices we make our path wonderful, no matter what or full of holes we keep falling in🥰

    A thoughtful post Kristine… Thankyou ❤️At the end of the day we cannot be responsible for others choices and lives, which allows us to hold everyones highest potential to journey in their own right direction, relieving us of having to live it for them.
    Sending love your way and keep sharing cause you’re awesome at it❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      Kind words, Barbara. Thank you😊. You always add value here with your thoughtful comments and wisdom!

  7. Roy McCarthy says:

    That way must be both fulfilling and cathartic for those who have gone through bad times and have survived. It not only provides a sounding board, a touchstone for others in the same position but gives the sharer a great sense of worth.

    Though I’ve no real bad times to share I’m well aware of how good helping or coaching others makes one feel. The sharing can only come from within though. Dragging it from someone isn’t the same.

    PS – when are you going to write a book Kristine, or did I miss it?

    1. candidkay says:

      Touchstone It’s a wonderful way to describe it, Roy. And you’re right. It absolutely cannot be forced. A book— I hope there’s one in me. I do have a draft of one that I wrote several years ago. It’s more of a memoir. I know I need to get serious about it but because I write for my day job, I find myself not wanting to put the work in on my own things at night.

  8. Jaya says:

    So many things to think about! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I love this!! And yes, sharing, being vulnerable gives people permission to do the same. What a gift to discover this. And I hear you about people who go in circles, not moving forward. I think you’re not alone in having limited bandwidth, especially these days. Me too. It’s ok to circle the wagons and tend to your needs.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the words of support. It’s hard, when you feel that people are placed in your path for a reason, to circle the wagons when you feel you must. It feels like you’ve somehow been unsuccessful in helping them on their journey. But I realized you can’t do it for people. You can just be there to help them witness their own progress.

      1. “You can’t do it FOR people.” This has been one of my hardest lessons as well.

  10. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable. Everyone needs a safe space to be compassionately heard. 🙏

    1. candidkay says:

      Absolutely. I think as a world, we have a long way to go in this area. But as individuals, there are so many rays of hope.

  11. Karen Lang says:

    I agree Kristine. When we feel listened too, when we feel connected to another human, we remember our courage and the immense possibilities available in this moment. It’s a gift to offer this to each other.
    🧡🌿

    1. candidkay says:

      “We remember our courage.” Ooh, I like that, Karen!

  12. Miriam says:

    So well said. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, opening up snd mot being afraid to share our humanness can only bring us more together as we become stronger. Thank you for sharing. 🙏

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for reading! And got your thoughtful comments. I can’t wait for the day when the definition of strength and leadership includes vulnerability.

      1. Miriam says:

        Yes, too true.

  13. I always enjoy your share. Sometimes, when I blog the path becomes clearer!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Marlene! I so agree. When you get things down on virtual paper, the pieces start to make more sense.

  14. Kudos Kristine. Like you, I believe sharing our vulnerability with others is a gift, except for those as you mentioned who simply want the attention for their sad story. When we share from the heart, we open doors of connection and healing. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Brad. And isn’t it amazing that we feel the difference from the get-go? When someone starts to share a story, you can feel the energy that they are using to share it. It’s either generous or it’s all about them.

  15. mydangblog says:

    People don’t know that things are normal and ok unless they hear that other people are experiencing it too. It’s good role modeling, and means a lot to people when we share, so thanks for sharing this!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you 😊. I see parents do this all the time with other parents. I think there is a way to respect your families privacy and yet let others know that they are not alone. You share with all of us and you do it in a funny way, which makes it even better :-).

  16. I was told to suck it up when tragedy struck. I pretty much stick to that advice. I have to admit I admire those who let it all fly. Seems a lot better than spending tons on therapy. Excellent post, Kristine.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, John. And I guess I’m sorry that the response when tragedy struck wasn’t more sensitive. It takes so much energy to suck it up and button it up 24/7.

  17. Masha says:

    OMG I love this. I was brought up to never tell anyone anything about me or my family, it’s taken me years to be able to open up and share myself like this.
    The thing is that, I believe that every time you open yourself up and share a vulnerable thing, you’re opening the door for all those others who can’t, who don’t know how to, you’re opening the door showing them the way and giving them the permission they need to their freedom. Love this xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Masha😊. I believe that too. In Dale’s comment, She mentions Brené Brown. I am a huge fan of her. She talks so much about how vulnerability is actually strength. Our culture just needs to catch up in its knowing. XO

  18. Dale says:

    Beautifully said. Brené Brown talks about vulnerability all the time. How important it is. How allowing ourselves to be vulnerable also opens us up to so much more. Sharing our stories (without whining and whinging, please) is good for us as well as can be beneficial to others. We can still put up the boundaries we need to not get sucked into each one’s vortex – that is something I no longer do. I call those people energy vampires.
    I am watching this sick show called Mr. Mercedes (this ain’t no rich man’s love story, folks…) and I just now finished watching a scene where a woman is giving the eulogy for her mother. And she said, my mother once told me:
    “It’s all a beautiful accident, Janey, who we meet, who we love, who we’re loved by. And this life, it’s our dream and it’s God’s dream, too. And then, we wake up.”
    And to this I add, it’s also a beautiful accident who we influence, who we help, who helps us, if we are just open enough to allow it all…

    1. candidkay says:

      Talk about beautifully said! I love this response. And yes, you have to be careful not to get hijacked by those energy vampires. They can take up the whole damn path and leave no room for anybody else, crowding you right off the edge. I’m going to have to check out Mr. Mercedes now. I am intrigued.

      1. Dale says:

        Thank you! I’ve been hijacked way too many times. I now keep a certain distance.
        Warning. It’s violent! (On Prime for me but you might have to watch it on something else.)

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