By Kera Package: Story telling is terrifying, particularly when it is your own story. When your childhood is sprinkled with parental abandonment, abuse, alcoholism, failed suicide attempts, drugs, sexual addiction, and a myriad of other drama, the last thing you want to do is invite the world into your poorly written soap opera.

People label you, treat you differently, and question your integrity. You lose friends, upset family members, and disappoint those you love. And as you share your story, you wonder if it’s even worth it. Does anyone care? Could they ever understand? Does it even matter?

So it’s no surprise I was afraid of sharing my story. But can I tell you a secret?

Telling your story isn’t nearly as terrifying as not telling it.

Because honestly, learning how to share your story is the only way to truly heal. By wrestling with how to share it, you are forced to find words to define your emotional experiences. And as you do, you realize that those words don’t define you. Those experiences don’t define you. You are not defined by your story.

And in telling your story, you own it, so that it doesn’t own you.

It was pure desperation that introduced me to the concept of story telling. In my senior year of high school, I walked into a teacher’s office, locked the door behind me, and started crying hysterically as I tried to explain how my life was falling apart. I was just kicked out of my house with no money, no resources, and no idea how to respond. And at rock bottom, I was finally forced to share my story.

But just a few months later, my challenges actually opened doors for me to attend college with a considerable amount of scholarship funds. The generous gifts of strangers provided opportunities to move forward, and the support of friends helped bring healing into my life.

All because I shared my story instead of keeping it locked inside.

Sharing my story has been a paradigm shift in my life.  I was once convinced that there was no reason to tell it, but the truth is that if I remain silent, I not only diminish my ability to heal, but I may also rob others of the opportunity to do the same.  As I am vulnerable with my story, people share bits and pieces of their lives as well, and I see healing taking place before my eyes.  It amazes me how someone so imperfect has had so many opportunities to spark healing in the lives of others, simply by sharing my experience.

That momentary fear of how others will respond to what you say is manageable compared to the terrifying idea of thwarting the forward progress of both your life and the lives of others because you are too afraid to share.

Yes, sharing your story is intimidating, but I promise you that it is worth it.

So, what’s your story?