empathy

Accept It. Own It. Tell It: Your Story Could Save Someone's Life

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjVQ36NhbMk]

It's National Suicide Prevention Week.  It started yesterday, Sunday, September 4th. Someone committed suicide early yesterday morning. Known to many in the marketing & social media fields, Trey Pennington took his own life, leaving many to question why, and leaving people he "knew" online and in real life in complete shock over news of his death.

I never met Trey Pennington. Having been a social media consultant, I only know of him and his work in the field. I don't know what drove him to take his own life, I don't know what he suffered from internally....I don't know his story. But I wish I did. I wish I did know his story, I wish he could have shared his story with someone & got the help he needed before he left this life. Perhaps if he had shared some of his story and it included struggling with a mental illness or mood disorder, I could have shared mine somehow with him, through a comment or message, to let him know that he's not alone, and he doesn't have to suffer alone. I would have told him about Band Back Together, a place where you can safely tell your story without worrying about fear or judgement from others.....

I never knew Trey Pennington personally. But I did know people who did take their lives, both friends & family members. I've considered taking my own life as a teen and even in my adult years...

I'm saying all of that and I'm sharing the fact that I myself have considered ending my life at certain times because that's part of my story, part of my life experience. I posted this on Facebook the other night and I believe it with everything in me:

 It's not enough to just own your story-you've got to TELL it. In fact, part of owning your story IS telling it. That's where the power lies in transparency-in the telling and sharing of your experiences. That's what helps people, that's what robs shame of it's power, that's what gives issues a face and a voice instead of a shadowy stigma.....Whatever your stories are people, tell them. I believe for every story/experience that needs to be told, there is someone who needs and wants to hear it. Let's start sharing the things that really matter...

When we go through things in life, whether they be trivial or traumatic, it's imperative that we do what's necessary to first deal with the effects it has on us, heal from whatever it is, then accept it. And I think that's what a good amount of people do. But that's ALL they do. They stop at the healing and acceptance part. To many of us don't go on to share our story with someone else. Oh don't get me wrong, we give advice, we give people our opinions & suggestions on something going on in their lives, but we don't dig deeper in the well of empathy & reveal enough of ourselves, so that the person we're talking to feels like they aren't alone in what they're facing. Does that make sense?

Or if we do share, we are selective who we share our stories with. I know we have to protect ourselves to a degree, and maybe I sound idealistic & young here, but where's the compassion for people? What happened to reaching out? Maybe if we created & fostered safe, compassionate, healing, & empathetic environments for our children, our family members, our friends, the guy who sits next to me in church, the woman in the cubicle next to me, etc, maybe we wouldn't have to have an entire week dedicated to raising awareness about suicide. Maybe if we shed ourselves of our own tangles & shame surrounding our stories, it would empower & embolden us to speak up, reach out, not be so afraid to be vulnerable.....maybe, just maybe, suicide won't be an option for people.

Think about the story of your life so far. Have you accepted it? Have you only owned certain parts of it? Are there parts of it that you still need to heal from? How much of it have you TOLD? Who do you know that could benefit from a few pages or even a few chapters of your life story?

I challenge you, I'm even challenging myself moving forward to have the courage, have the boldness, to accept your story. Own your story. And then in some form or fashion, whatever is in your capacity to do so, TELL YOUR STORY. You never know who's life you could save by doing so.

You can read more about National Suicide Prevention Week over on my friend Cristi Comes' blog http://www.ellieadorn.com/ -there are hundreds of sites, but I find hers to have a wealth of knowledge & information from stories to resources in this area. You can also visit this site as well for even more information & links to resources: http://www.suicidology.org

To share your story in a safe place and or read those of others, Join The Band at http://www.bandbacktogether.com/. They are also on Facebook.

On Vulnerability & Wholeheartedness

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0]

Some of my favorite lines from this talk: "They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which is, you have to, ......they fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating...they just talked about it being necessary...the willingness to say I love you first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees...their willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out..."

'Fessing Up

"Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed". -James 5:16 MSG

“Our lives are a collection of stories – truths about who we are, what we believe, what we come from, how we struggle, and how we are strong. When we can let go of what people think, and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness – the feeling that we are enough just as we are, and that we are worthy of love and belonging." -Brene Brown, Ph.D.

I'm a big believer in the power of transparency and being able to be honest with ourselves & others. I know lots of people who disagree, but I think sharing the stories of who we are & what we go through can help us get through life a little easier, no matter what our differences may be. That's probably why I love projects like Post Secret & connect so strongly with Brene Brown's  work as well as her ideas about living a wholehearted & authentic life. (I'm currently reading her books and have enjoyed her TED Talks a great deal). I think being honest with ourselves & transparent with others provides the environment needed for compassion & empathy to grow & thrive. And who couldn't use some more of that in their lives?

 I understand it's not easy to lay our thoughts, feelings & emotions bare for others to see (or read). Letting others see our humanity, having people bear witness to our struggles can be difficult and risky business. But I also know that doing so can help other people understand that they aren't alone, and I think it's so important for everyone to have a space where they have the freedom to do that. For you, that space might be in prayer, meditation, talking with that one friend who's a great listener, a journal....For me it's prayer-just simple, on going conversations with God-and writing. Growing up I always wanted to have a place where I could just let it all out-the good, bad, & the downright ugly, and this blog is just that.

So what about you? What are your thoughts? In the spirit of these beliefs, I'd like to try something new here on Butterfly Confessions. I've created a space called "The Confessional" where you can share whatever you want. Have something to get off your chest, or a random thought to share?  It doesn't have to be heavy or serious in nature. It can be something funny, whimsical, comical...it can also be sad, angry, or on any topic. I'm serious. ANYTHING.

If you do and would like to share over at The Confessional, email me:

bconfessions at gmail dot com.

Think "Real World" or Post Secret, but without the cameras & post cards. 'Fess up in no more than 3-5 sentences. All submissions will be posted anonymously, so you don't have to worry or fear anyone knowing you said it.

What's that you say? Will I be posting my own little confessions here? Yup you betcha-I'll add my name to 'em so you know they're from me :) So go ahead, what are you waiting for?