Holding My Ground

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StandingI look like the kind of girl who can stick up for herself.

I guess I am the kind of girl who can stick up for herself. But, more often than I’d like to admit, I cave instead of stand. I bend like a blade of grass on a windy day. Unless you’re related to me, I’m not really going to fight back. Probably.

I learned early that being tough, even when you’d rather cry, was the way to survive. But last month I let my guard down. Way down. I wrote here about my family and my fear of telling my own story. I felt naked in a crowded room—and I didn’t even say that much.

The response was overwhelming. Dozens of hands reaching out to comfort, welcome, support and embrace me. It freed me. I started to believe I might actually be able to put my history on paper and stop hiding from it.

So, you can imagine how crushed I felt when what I wrote, was stamped down just a few days later. I was told that I “didn’t have it that bad, really.” That “kids grow up without food or with parents who get drunk every night or no parents at all.” And that I just need to look around and realize I’m really fine and I should get over it because I’m a grown up now.

Maybe I’m just being melodramatic, but that killed me inside a little. And a hundred old voices reminded me that I was a burden. That I shouldn’t talk about the things that hurt. That I’m dramatic. That I made it sound worse than it was. That no one would really care about what I have to say.

I felt guilty for sharing my story publicly. I felt guilty for being hurt by things that “weren’t really that bad.” I felt ashamed for being sensitive. I felt ashamed of being the one who shares too much. I felt ashamed for thinking my smallness mattered at all.

Then I moved from hurt to indignation. I was fuming. The whole point to my post must have been missed. The purpose was to remind everyone that what they’ve been through is theirs to share—without apologies.

You know, for a girl who talks as much as I do, it took me almost ten years to finally admit there was something wrong in my childhood and it has left me feeling broken. The indignation welled up in me and I all but screamed that I will not be asked to quiet down. I’ve finally started finding my voice and I’m going to use it.

And I’m learning that story-telling helps me heal. And if you’re really listening, you won’t just hear a sad tale, you’ll hear a story of redemption and hard work and loads of God’s grace and a dozen silver linings.

A year ago I fractured my pelvis, but my pain does not discredit yours. If you sprain your ankle it still hurts and it would be unfair of me to compare my injury to yours.

So, here I am standing. I’m sticking up for myself.

Maybe I didn’t have it that bad. Maybe I am overly sensitive. But I’m standing firm to what I wrote before: my story matters. I have to believe my story matters, because I believe your story matters. Because for people like me, the telling of it brings the darkness into light and healing to the broken places.

Just because someone has had it worse, doesn’t mean I lose my right to my voice.

______________________

Image credit: My über talented, spritely and sassy friend Tina Francis.

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Sarah Joslyn
I’m more likely to answer to Sars than Sarah. That’s because years ago my brothers started calling me Sars and, as the name implies, it was infectious. I’m a self-proclaimed writer-photographer-Jesuslover-painter-adventurer-foodie. I have a near obsession with ending injustice and I’m a sucker for a good cause. I blog about life and building a tiny house at sometimesscreaminghelps.com.
Sarah Joslyn
Sarah Joslyn

Latest posts by Sarah Joslyn (see all)

Sarah Joslyn
  • Debby Hudson

    I hear it Sarah. I hear the redemption and hard work and see the silver linings and YES, your story matters or mine doesn’t. And mine matters too! Because you stand, I can stand alongside you.

    • Sarah Richardson

      Exactly. Yes, exactly.

  • Kate Green

    so love this! I am part of a healing group – there are 6 of us wonderfully diverse women with incredibly diverse wounds. We had to acknowledge this as we started sharing our stories – to learn to honor each others journey without comparing one to the other.

    It is so affirming when we can acknowledge the work of Christ in someone’s life while resisting that pull to put our (I should say “my”!) stamp of approval, so to speak, on that work. When I rejoice in the work of Christ in you, my vision of the love and grace of Jesus is enlarged and I am reminded again of how vast that love and grace are.

    thank you for sharing.

    • Sarah Richardson

      Wow, Kate, that is awesome. Thank you for sharing. “How vast that love and grace” can be is huge.

  • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

    Yes. This: Just because someone has had it worse, doesn’t mean I lose my right to my voice. Yes!

  • Laura Shook

    Keep standing Sarah! Your story matters! It’s our personal stories that God uses to reveal himself. Keep keep talking/writing!

  • Adina Impala

    A wise friend once told me there is no such thing as “too” sensitive. You are the way you are not “too” much not “too” little.

    • Sarah Richardson

      Awwwww. Everybody, this is my sister. I’m pretty sure she’s throwing my words back at me in the best way possible. 🙂

  • Amanda Waters

    Yes, yes, yes!!! So good Sarah!

  • *snaps in appreciation*

    YEAH girrrl.

    Write it. Speak it. Sing it.

    I, for one, am dying to hear your story! Truth is, your storytelling helps heal me!

    I’ve been a little overwhelmed to write anything after our recent trip to Uganda, Burundi and Moldova. Everything feels so big, sacred and beautiful. I’m hesitant to even describe it’s holiness seen through my tiny eyes using my tiny words.

    Thank you for the heartwarming reminder (and kick-in-the-butt).

    Love you Sarah,
    Teen
    P.S. I need you to share your truth, so I can continue to share my truth. #peerpressure

    • Sarah Richardson

      Sigh. This is the perfect comment to encourage me. And also, now I want to hear your truth too.

  • cjdeboer

    You go girl! When I was a kid and would get upset about something my dad would always tell me to quit feeling sorry for myself – there’s always someone worse off right? But you’re so right, we can’t compare or discredit our own experiences simply because others have experienced worse. We need to have our experiences validated and learn from them before we can heal and move on.

    • Sarah Richardson

      Yes. This is exactly what I’m saying.

  • Holly

    I love what you did hear, friend. How you took the all of what you wanted to say and wove it together. You’ve spun beauty, dear, and this is only the beginning. These gathering threads are the beginning of a tapestry, Sarah. Perhaps you only see the knotted side of that, for now, but I feel as if I’ve had a glimpse of the story side.
    And it is gorgeous.

    • Holy beautiful comment, Holly! How do you weave words so gorgeously?!!! #nailedit

      • Sarah Richardson

        I’m with Tina. Even your comments are poetry Holly.

  • HBurns

    Stand strong… I am standing with you. Thanks for sharing your story with strength and vulnerability. I admire your courage. xo

  • Sarah Hurliman

    Way to be, Sarah! Your story matters. My story matters. And just because your story is different than other people’s stories, that doesn’t diminish its reality in your life. Which means that not only is it legitimate to tell your story, but vital. Your story-telling helps others (like me) tell our stories, too. I’ve had a quote out of your last post sitting on my desktop for the last few weeks, reminding me that my story counts.

    • Sarah Richardson

      Wow. Oh wow. Sarah, this made my day. Thank you for being an encouragement to me today.

  • threemustardseeds

    I love this post! I’m new to SheLoves and this is something I’ve struggled with too… comparing my story to others and either diminishing it myself or letting others brush it off as ”its not that bad”. Thank you for reminding me that my story and all our stories — matter. Especially to God. xo Maria

    • Sarah Richardson

      Maria, thank you for sharing. It’s true–we matter. It’s the thing God keeps pressing on me since I first joined this beautiful SheLoves community.

  • Melinda Cadwallader

    This is absolutely beautiful, miss Sarah. So many of us need this. When we are being silenced, we are told our story is invisible. To speak and to share is to see it and face it, and then…release it. There is so much healing that comes when we open up to each other and become a vessel for which the Spirit can move. Today, I am blessed by your words, and gaining strength, by women like you who tell their stories, to one day tell mine and hopefully bless someone in return.

  • Danita

    Took me till I was 23 to have enough courage to tell people my secret, despite my fears. Always always grateful for people like you who share, as well. Every person I meet who will share their story makes me feel just a little less alone. Thank you.

  • Priti

    With you Sarah! You matter and your stories do!!

  • fiona lynne

    I’ve read this three times the last few days because it’s a message I so need to internalise. I have all the voices in my head telling me my story is not bad enough to share, that I have so much privilege that I should be listening rather than speaking. But I think that if I can’t embrace the truth that my story matters, than I’ll never be able to listen well either? Thanks for sharing x

  • Saskia Wishart

    Woah Sarah, I can so so so relate. I am sorry someone shut you down after your last post. I was super encouraged by your bravery then, and I am super encouraged by your bravery now.

    Keep standing my friend!

    Lots of Love!
    X

  • Gina

    I read your other post and everything in me said, “Yes!” Stories are meant to be told. I’m sad that someone tried to shame you out of telling your story. So often the world avoids pain by trying to diminish reality, by saying it “wasn’t that bad” or “it could have been worse.” There’s such courage in owning your story and the depth to which it impacts and shapes you. When you do that, you can find redemption in it.

  • Tiffany Graham

    Thank you! I love the courage you have!

  • Abbie Daley

    Thank you for your post. Your story DOES matter. Keep standing up for yourself and sharing who you are to others because by doing so you are motivating others to stand and share.

  • Taylor

    Love this post!!! Please keep sharing. It is inspires other so much. There will always be naysayers, people who want to have negative influence and opinions, but don’t listen to them!!

  • mercynotes

    Ahhh I love this. I couldn’t agree more. A resounding Amen, sister :). Much love. Storytelling does heal. It frees.

  • anon

    After my father started going to counseling for his anger (I was in college), my mother apologized for how often they both told me I was “too sensitive” or “overly sensitive.” She told me “you’re just sensitive, and that’s ok.” It took me awhile to process but I’ve realized those were very freeing words. I had grown up thinking there was something wrong with me b/c of how I reacted and felt about certain situations. There’s no such thing as overly sensitive. There is no emotional standard. Feel how you feel and talking about it is healthy and healing.

  • Kerry Connelly

    Sarah, I’m so sorry someone tried to lessen your story, to make it less than somehow. I’ve always despised that — as if there is a grand competition for hurts that we are all in. Please, continue to share your voice. It matters. 🙂

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  • Beth Watkins

    “I have to believe my story matters, because I believe your story matters.” I love this so much.