The answer to this is simple:
Do YOU need to tell your story?
Yes I know I am answering a question with a question.
But the truth is, one really needs to search within themselves and find what is right for them. I personally have found it very helpful to tell me story in very safe spaces.
I can count on my hand how many times I’ve told my story in groups (groups where I was a participant) and of course, it is usually a very general version of it. In therapy, I have told it on occasion, sometimes specific details and usually when related to something that is happening. When starting with a new therapist I have told the general gist of what happened to me as a child because you just can’t treat me as a therapist without knowing it all.
Recently, I was a part of a discussion on this topic, in a fabulous Facebook group and this is some of what I said:
I think sharing it over and over is not healthy either. I do think that having some safe spaces to share is important, whether it is once, twice, three times or however many times it takes. For me I spent a few years in therapy revealing parts of my story slowly over time and it was important for me to do so. I spent a lot of time talking about daily stuff and then once in a while I would talk about my childhood, but I needed that and for me it was freeing because I had never told anyone the depth of what happened. I needed to have the mirroring that what happened was not okay, because I didn’t understand how not okay it was (this was in my twenties).
Then later in the journey, the telling of the story was usually related to something that was coming up in my life, an event related to whatever was “up” for me.
This kind of sharing has always been healing for me personally.
On my blog I rarely share details of what happened to me as I do not want to trigger others. I share bits and pieces when it is of service to the topic at hand and try never to be explicit. It’s just unnecessary in my opinion. (There is a time and place to be explicit and its with my therapist because I don’t have to worry about her feelings, or taking care of her, or whether it will trigger her.)
I truly believe though that if there is shame associated with your story, speaking it in front of someone safe, is a huge part of healing shame.
Shame needs the light and witnessing.“
I’d like to add that when it comes to sexual abuse survivors, secrecy and not telling anyone is how we survive, but it is also how we stay stuck in the shame of it. My perspective is that it is helpful for sexual abuse survivors to speak their story, whatever they remember, in small bits, not all at once and with the help of a licensed therapist who can slow them down, hold safe space so as not to re-traumatize them and keep track of dissociative signals in the client, helping them come back in the room if they begin to “float away”.
I also want to point out that there is a difference between telling your story like you are reciting a well known story, without emotion and disconnected from what you are saying and actually telling it from a place where you are processing what you are saying, you are tapping into the feeling of it. I used to say my story without any emotion. Now my voice quivers and gets lower, I feel something bubbling inside of me, I slow myself down and take deep breaths, I feel my feet on the ground and stop when it feels right. Afterward I allow myself to recover, to process and take time for myself, usually alone time.
I’ve also told my story in my unpublished memoir: My Voice of Truth: Distorted Beginnings, because I am a writer and I primarily make meaning through words. I’ve shared parts of it with different people, but I did it for me. I wrote it so that I could articulate the repeated traumas from my childhood, because I needed to and it helped immensely. I don’t know if I will ever publish it, but I know I was meant to write it and I healed layers of my pain in the writing of it.
It’s all very individual though and we all must find what works for us. A good question to ask, is do you need to tell your story? And if the answer is yes, then find a way, a safe space, a journal, a canvas, a group, where you feel safe to be witnessed and held in your pain.