• Carolyn Brouillard

To Those Who Think I Share Too Much

A celebration of women's stories

I know it is nobody’s business what I do with my life, how I feel about the decisions I’ve made, or what makes my heart tremble and sway. I know I am exposing a soft underbelly that some would like to see shrouded in secrecy and cloaked in a complacency that never questions the meaning of a chill down my spine. As a woman, I know baring my soul is sometimes the only revelation that averts the eyes of those suddenly concerned with modesty.

I know these things and still I write. I write because, for so long, I lived the story that others wrote for me. As I walked down the aisles of my life, I recited scripted dialogue like I was an actor in a movie instead of the author of it. I was taught what emotions were acceptable to show to others and which were best kept buried. Through censoring, shouts, and social mores I was told what I was supposed to want and what was possible for me to have. As a girl, I learned to doubt myself and defer to others for the truth of my life.

For too long, I lived within the lines of other people’s pages - confined and defined by their expectations of me.

In a society that created the saying, “Little girls should be seen and not heard,” a woman writing is a revolutionary act. In a society that put hands over our mouths and took the pens from our hands, a woman writing about her life, feelings, and dreams, expressing her existence and enigma, is an act of liberation.

In kitchens, corners, and under the covers of our best friend’s bed, we shared stories in secret. But now, we can press “publish,” and send our stories to the world, like butterflies hatching from the chrysalis.

“It’s too personal,” some say. I agree. It’s very personal. To write about one’s life is to invite strangers into the intimacy of our bodies and minds. It is to be vulnerable in a way that would make most people have nightmares for a year. I didn’t say writing down the bones was comfortable. But I do believe it is valuable, for writer and reader alike.

Writing about my experiences provides a forum to process what I am thinking and feeling and form something at least momentarily solid out of a nebulous mass. As words take shape, I start to make sense of my place in the world and feel the pull of purpose. I encounter my beliefs and baggage, patterns and pitfalls, and see myself more clearly. In spending time with the words spilling onto the page, I get to know myself better, which is the first step to a more honest and empowered life.

My writing is my art. It is where I dance with mystery and play with sound. It is the visual and audio expression of my heart, alive and pulsing with imagination. Writing is my mark, the ink stamp that says I exist, I matter, and I am justified in taking up space. Writing is how I come out from the shadows and stand in the light.

“But you don’t need to share it,” they say. I agree. I don’t. But where would I be if I had never read another woman’s words? My life would be a much lonelier, duller, and isolated place.

I share my stories because our lives are often the best teaching devices. In bearing witness to each other’s journeys, with their tribulations and triumphs, we are inspired to chart new paths, change our course, and write new endings. We see from a new angle, hear a different note, and think something we perhaps hadn’t thought before. Seeing others’ lives can expand our view of our own, which is a precious gift.

For me, sharing my story is also a declaration that my worth is not up for debate. In allowing myself to be vulnerable and exposed, I am rejecting the fear of being judged. For so long, that was the noose around my neck that kept me compliant and constrained. I was afraid of what people might think, how I might be viewed, and how ashamed I might feel.

Baring my truth is a demonstration to myself that others’ judgments cannot hurt me. It is an affirmation that what people think of me has no bearing on what I think of me and how I love me. It is a reminder that I am the expert on my own story and master of my destiny. In my authenticity is a self-compassion and inner knowing that I am strong enough to love myself no matter what I’ve lived through or what people may say.

As women, writing our stories is an act of empowerment. It is a way to show up and be seen and heard for who we are. Through our words, we breed connection and foster compassion, proving that we are never as alone as we sometimes feel. When we take hold of the pen and tell our own past, present, and future, we are adding to the collective story, ensuring history does not revise or forget us. We are claiming and celebrating our voice.

To those who think I share too much, I ask you this: What is it that you truly fear?

Photo: Rafael Leão on Unsplash

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