Should I tell my story chronologically or in little bits?

Oct 22, 2014Q & A with Mary

Here’s a question from Shelly:

I have been in counseling with the same person for the last 1 1/2 years. The basic gist of what happened to me as a child is known, but I haven’t told the story of it in any sort of timeline. It’s all been in pieces. At the beginning I was told that I didn’t have to tell everything right then, that I could take my time and only share what I was comfortable .sharing. How important is it to sit down and tell it from the beginning? Am I just being weird in wanting to tell it in story form instead of in bite sized, out of order bits? If it’s ok to tell it all, then how do I start? How do I tell my counselor I need to tell the whole story? Do I really need to tell the story as a whole? It feels like it, but I don’t quite trust my feelings. A lot of it will be on repeat but put in order. Is this helpful? Will this harm my counselor? (I visibly traumatized another one about 1 1/2 years ago) (Sometimes I think this one gets rattled– I don’t want to hurt him)

I talked about this answer the Uncaged Podcast, episode 29, if you’d like to hear my voice answering you. But my hunch is that a licensed counselor is equipped to hear any part of your story, whether it’s all at once in chronological order or piece by piece.

That being said, if you feel the need or urge to tell it all at once, that’s a pretty good indication that you are ready to do so, and that there will be something beautiful that’ll happen when another person can look at the story as a whole and offer feedback or reflection. You, too, may find that saying it all at once gives you new insight into how you are today, and maybe why or why not you’re healing journey is stalling.

Part of what you share is not trusting your own feelings. That’s very common for abuse victims. We’ve been told we’re crazy, or that our perception of a situation is flawed or wrong. It’s a big first step for you to acknowledge that you sense you’re supposed to tell the whole thing, that perhaps, in a small way, you are beginning to be comfortable in your own skin enough to actually trust your feelings.

Truth: you are valuable. Your perception of events is uniquely yours and is absolutely okay to have. Your hunches are good.

Truth: You are not responsible for your counselor’s trauma or reaction. He/she is trained to hear your story.

Truth: I am proud of you for willingly sharing your story. This is paramount for your healing journey.