Posted on November 2, 2015 in Personal Growth by Sandra Bienkowski
When I was a teenager, I told my parents I wanted to see a psychologist.
At the time, I was dating a guy who lived up the street. We had an exciting relationship but I was holding on too tight. With my shaky self-image, I pictured him breaking up with me and it felt like falling into a dark, bottomless well. I had no identity without him, and I knew the way I was feeling wasn’t healthy or normal.
I wanted help.
But asking for it wasn’t easy. I’d come home from school to find either a beautiful, kind woman at the front door or a drunk, disheveled, hateful monster (depending on whether my mom had started drinking vodka during the day). My childhood was filled with unpredictability, drama, screaming, and insults. My dad didn’t protect me — he was also lost in denial. My sister and I lived in fear for years.
But once my dysfunctional parents agreed that I should talk to someone (because I was adopted, they convinced themselves that I had “faulty genes”), I started talk therapy that changed the trajectory of my life.
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“No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams
Dead Poets Society is one of my favorite movies. I love all of its messages …
Seize the day.
Constantly look at things in a different way.
Find your own voice.
It’s not easy to find your own voice–especially on a stage. Now keeping journals? That’s easy. My thoughts flood out on paper and it’s how I think and process. (Ever since I got married I journal a lot less because my husband is now my journal–poor soul.) Keeping a journal is such freedom. Blank pages. Space to write and think. And no one judges what you have to say or how well you write it. Writing for a big audience is an entirely different story. People aren’t always kind in the comments section, and as much as I can pull up my big girl panties, I can’t always let go of what people think. Even though it can be difficult to write the truth and serve it up for public consumption, I feel compelled.
I know our stories can change the world.
Lately, I’ve received a lot of kind emails from strangers about my stories. Strangers thanking me for writing openly about finding my birth mom or overcoming my battle with my weight. Recently a woman said my story about seeking counseling in my twenties to overcome depression led her to seek professional help so can have a chance at a happy life. I felt so grateful to read that email. To know we can even help one person is the greatest gift. Helping just one person makes the vulnerability of writing and sharing our stories so worth it …
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brene Brown
Here are some of my latest stories . . .
Make your life extraordinary.