It came to my attention the other day that a mother and her children were sleeping in their car at a petrol station of an evening on the outskirts of our pleasant middle-class town. The person that discovered her plight revealed that she hadn’t wanted to reach out for help, such was her shame at her situation. It broke my heart.
Within moments, another mum (who had once been homeless) offered to put them up in a motel, and yet another woman had stepped in to locate permanent housing for this family.
The things we keep hidden… If we smile, we are presumed to be happy. If we are well-dressed, we are presumed to have money. We can fudge a lot, fumbling our way through life. It is all a big act, of that you can be sure.
I think we all have a fear of others uncovering the vulnerable parts of our psyche. We are loathe to share our failures and terrors. What if they use it against us? What if we are mocked? There is also the fact that life moves so damn fast, and we feel as if we are on a treadmill, going ever quicker. It behoves everyone to believe that we are doing okay, and shall continue to do so. We tend to believe that nobody would care to stop the dance, sit with us, and listen to what lies beneath the surface.
The alcoholism, mental illness, relationship woes, friendship crisis, domestic violence and money worries are all kept hidden. We do our best to conceal the fatigue and stress, covering the dark circles with makeup, hiding the lack of funds by using a credit card. What happens behind closed doors would rattle an outsider to their core. It is only by telling our stories in their entirety, that we can truly be free. We thus free others. They see that we have shed our shame, and realize that it is possible.
You have an addiction? Let others know the hard yards you have put in to break the cycle. You suffered abuse? Do you have any idea how strong you are to have survived the unendurable? You are homeless? You are the bravest of the brave. You have broken down? Now is the time for your breakthrough.
I have been in refuges; I have been broken and sought solace in numbing my pain. I am not ashamed. I guess I am shameless! I am proud of where I am, and who I am. I fought to become her.
We have to start getting real with each other. I disclosed my past without hesitation from the outset. I have been met with incredulous laughter, uncomfortable silence, disregard, and finally compassion. We all need to be heard. If you aren’t heard by the first person you talk to, seek another. Keep going until you find the right people to either help you or hear you.
I can bet money that the little family who divulged that they were homeless are mighty glad that they did as they sleep in warm beds tonight. Seek help with whatever you are struggling with. Gain comfort in those who have gone before, forging the path to healing. Banish the shame to the fires, and you will emerge as a mighty phoenix.