This is a gentle reminder that when a survivor shares their story and experiences with you, to remember that it is their story, not yours. When they tell you what helps them heal, support them. That may sound so obvious but it isn’t, surprisingly among survivors, and especially when triggers come into play.
It isn’t always easy to share my story publicly.
There are parts of me that activate and become afraid, anxious, and over analytical of all the potential negative outcomes of public sharing. I take the risk of attack by those remaining on my abuser’s side of the family, and I throw myself into the line of fire on the internet of a million personalities.
Regardless, I do it anyway.
Our Triggers Belong to Us Alone
I know that my words can trigger others and I have experienced my own triggers from comments. I understand that I have reached a level of healing and reflection that survivors new to the journey are still figuring out, and I realize how triggering it can be – because I was once there myself.
That is why it is so important that I share my experiences and my story: the good, the messy, and the chaotic.
I share this because a few days ago, after putting up an extremely vulnerable post I found myself a punching bag for survivors who couldn’t handle their own triggers to what I had written.
The Back Story
Last week I was hit suddenly and intensely with emotional memories of my sexual abuser. In those memories I connected to a younger part of me who truly loved her grandfather despite his abuse. A part of me that I have suppressed for many years.
A part of me that I forgot existed and whose emotions I barely connect to.
Seeing my grandfather as anything less than a monster was never in the cards until now, so I posted this:
In the caption I shared my very vulnerable experience and my struggle to validate the space I need for these intensely contradictory emotions so that I can process them. I was surprised to find myself on the receiving end of insults by survivors who can’t handle the place I am at in my journey.
Our Journeys Are Personal
Instead of hearing my story, a select few reacted to it. Instead of respecting the boundaries of my journey, they responded from a place of their own emotional triggers and they attacked.
Numerous times I was accused of gaslighting survivors for sharing a piece of myself. The irony was thick, but only to those with self-awareness. Never, not once – in all of my writing, sharing, and guiding have I ever told a survivor what they should or shouldn’t do.
I believe deeply in the sovereignty of each of us and our own personal healing journeys.
So my message is simple.
If a survivor shares a piece of their story or their journey with you. Hear them, believe them, and please, leave your own journey out of it. Remember our paths are different.
If you are a survivor who has experienced this type of attack from someone else, please be gentle with yourself. If it feels safe to you, then you are doing everything right, don’t stop now!
We all have the right to heal the way we chose, that is the power of healing – choice. And we all deserve space to share our individual experiences, and have them validated.
On goes the journey