I can’t recall how many times I’ve learned someone was convinced, “encouraged”, or even coerced to share their personal and often trauma-centered lived experiences. Oftentimes these individuals have made excuses for those who pushed them to speak before they were ready. They might even give those people credit for their journeys and how far they have come. I cannot speak to whether the credit is or isn’t due, but I can say that the person who chose to share should solely earn the praise for the strength it took to do so and for how much they’ve grown.
Over the years, I’ve wondered why so many of our fields build foundations on trauma sharing without any substantial structures beyond that. We put undue pressure on those who have endured the terrors of life and expect them to steer us from pain by sharing their deepest wounds. We crave solutions from their stories and yet, we do not always honor these people or what they are undergoing when they break themselves open for us.
How many have poured themselves into spaces only to be diminished or invisibilized?
Your story is yours to own, hold close, share openly, parse out, or do anything you so choose.
The work isn’t owed access.
The field isn’t owed access.
Your mentor isn’t owed access.
Your loved ones aren’t owed access.
Your community isn’t owed access.
The public isn’t owed access.
Future generations aren’t owed access.
We must stop putting pressure around storytelling.
We must expand opportunities for meaningful engagement and involvement in the work so storytelling is no longer the ideal or only opportunity but one of many. We must intentionally create countless pathways for the inclusion of lived experience so that every person with lived experience can find the best fit for them to get involved or contribute when they want and never feel as though they’ve given more of themselves than they were ready to.
No one is owed your story.
Stories are sacred. Treat them as such.
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