Where Do You Share Your Story?
Updated: Apr 9, 2022
This week I have been reminded of how easy it can be to slip back into old ways of being. I disclosed I was autistic in a space that wasn’t safe and was left with feelings of shame. I was able to do some advocating, but quickly ran out of energy and fell back into my old (and mostly unhelpful) coping strategy of masking. For me, masking and shame often go hand in hand. I had spent so many years feeling shame about myself and trying to hide it from everyone around me that I lost my connection with my authentic self. I am still suprised at how quickly I can find myself back to the place of shame I lived in before I understood and accepted myself.
I’m glad to say I didn’t stay in that place of shame for too long, because I’ve learnt how to combat it over the years, and it has lost (most) of its power. So many of us grow up with shame about our identities and experiences. Shame lives in the darkness, and it wants to keep us there with it. It does this by amplifying our insecurities and playing on our fears of the possible consequences of showing our true selves. The more time we spend in the dark with it the more powerful it becomes but, as Brene Brown tells us:
Now I have people in my life that I know can offer me these conditions and coupled with some Lego fuelled autistic joy I was able to find my way out of the darkness and back to the light, where the shame cannot follow me.
Like many people, therapy was the first space where I was able to feel safe enough to rediscover my connection to my authentic self. It was only possible to do this in a space where I knew shame could not survive for long. As my level of understanding and acceptance of myself grew, so did my self-compassion, this means that now I can often offer myself the same level of understanding and empathy as my therapist once did. Now I am more easily able to recognise when I begin creeping towards the darkness where shame lives and can more easily steer myself back towards the light. Our stories are precious and deserve to be treated as such.
Where do you choose to share your story?