Has this ever happened to you? You're on a date with someone new, it's going well, and you're just about to order dessert when the thought crosses your mind.
"How will they react when they know what happened to me?"
Suddenly, it becomes like this big weight on your chest. Do I tell them now? Do I not tell them now? What if I tell them and they freak out? What if I don't tell them and they feel like I lied to them?
What a mess! At that point, it can feel like it's just easier to avoid the dating thing altogether. And it's not just dating that brings up this problem: it's meeting anyone new. Who do you tell? How much do you tell?
This inner conflict is caused in a large part by the worry over "doing the right thing." You worry what's fair to the other person.
But the question you're not asking yourself is, "What's fair to me?"
Though it might not feel that way at the time, that is an important question. In fact, it's the most important question. After all, no one is impacted more about telling your story than you. The person you tell will feel for you, naturally, but it didn't happen to them. It happened to you.
And that makes it your story to tell.
So here's what you do. Instead of worrying how other people will react, ask yourself how you feel about telling another person your story.
Will it help you grow in your relationship with that person?
Will it help you find out if they are someone you can trust to appropriately handle sensitive topics?
Will it be a good exercise for you to practice sharing something like this?
Will it set you back in your journey?
Are you unprepared to handle a negative reaction?
Are you still working on relinquishing your own negative feelings about the story?
If you answered affirmatively to any of the last few questions, you may wish to talk to your therapist or a trusted friend before sharing. It's an emotionally charged story, and there's nothing wrong with taking time to prepare yourself.
But, if you feel like you are prepared to claim your story and all possible negative and positive reactions, and this is a person you believe you can trust, then you might be ready. If so, you can use the reaction you get to your story to help you continue your healing process.
If they blame or judge, you can remind yourself that they didn't experience it, so they don't have the right to weigh in on it.
If they say, "I'm so sorry," you can remind them that while you appreciate their concern, you don't need anyone to feel sorry for you. You're a survivor, and you are strong.
If they say, "wow, that happened to me too," then you've opened up the door for them to share their story with someone who gets it and will support them...you!
Bottom line? The only person who has the right to share your story is you. And there's more than one right way to do it.
If you have shared your story before, what let you know you were ready to do so? If not, what healing level would you like to reach before you share your story with others?