Recently, I was sitting on the couch at my sister’s house when I heard a loud “whack” followed by some crying. My nephew had been following a small dog around the house and while his head was down he was not exactly watching where he was going and ran right into the dining room table. After a quick cry, I listened, amused as I heard my nephew explaining to my sister what happened in his broken 2 year old language. When he was finished he promptly came into where I was sitting, grabbed my hand and brought me to the scene of the “crime”. He pointed to the dog, and then the table, finally his head and said “walk…bonk head”. It was adorable. I chuckled with my sister that he doesn’t want to cry as much as he wants to have someone to commiserate with him. He wants to share his pain.
Thinking about this later in the day, I realized that as adults we are the same way. If our heart is hurt we want and need to tell someone about it. We want someone to empathize with us and say “wow that’s awful”. We are relational and we want to know that we are not alone. We want to know we are not walking through the hurts of this life without someone else caring when we “bonk” and it hurts. It helps us to tell and sometimes retell the stories of our lives until, somehow, we feel better. Sometimes a client will hesitate when I ask them to share with me a particularly painful part of their story. They will ask me “What’s the point? Its not going to change anything.” Many times people don’t want to talk about it because they do not want to feel bad. However, if we’re all being honest, they are already feeling bad and simply holding back the dam. Telling our story not only helps us receive the empathy we need and the knowledge that someone cares, but also helps us to process through the pain. Until it’s not so painful anymore. If you are hanging onto your pain, and unsure what to do with it, maybe it is time to start talking.