When you overshare for attention

Mar 28, 2024Archive, blog

I’ve been thinking about how I’m made, how God has uniquely gifted me. I am a discloser by nature, and I thank God for that odd gift because He has used it to bring healing my way.

Right after high school, I went on “Beyond Malibu,” a weeklong hiking trip in the mountains around the Young Life camp Malibu north of Vancouver, BC. There, I remember telling my story to my new friend Johnny.

Halfway through, he stopped me and asked, “Are you sure you want to share this with me?” It wasn’t said in malice because I could hear compassion in his voice. That was the first time I realized that our stories may need tempering before we share them.

You see, at that time, I was definitely an over-sharer. Why? Because I processed trauma externally, and I was desperate for healing. So I told my story to whoever would listen–and sometimes those people I told did not steward my story well.

In some ways, I shared in order to get attention. I was so lonely, sad, and brokenhearted over the state of my life that any attention or empathy fed me. Problem was, I’d have to keep telling my story over and over. It felt like my story was a commodity, as if I were prostituting the story in order to get compassion.

Does that make sense?

So when I had a significant amount of healing after college, I realized all this and I stopped sharing. I rarely told my story for over a decade. And guess what? I fell clear apart. It was only until I had a friend pull it from me, and I started counseling, that I realized I still needed to process all those adverse childhood experiences.

So now I fall somewhere in the middle of all this. I still believe God has uniquely gifted me to externally process pain, but now I’m better able to temper it with an outward focus. In Boston last weekend, I shared my story, not to gain attention or empathy, but to let people know they are not alone. In that way, my difficult story, redeemed, becomes helpful to others.

I’m not interested in showing off my trauma for recognition or attention. In fact, there are times it’s not at all fun to open up. I’ve (honestly) struggled with how much to share here about our recent transition from our last church. I’m built to communicate, after all.

But one thing that’s been helpful is that I’m seeing there are many people who have been hurt in their church or ministry context, and the underlying reason I share is for their sake–again so they don’t feel alone.

I grew up feeling ALONE. If I could categorize my life with one word, that would be it.

Thank God I am no longer alone. I have friends, family, and better relationship with myself and the Lord. He has tempered my “need” to overshare, and he has transformed that insecurity into communication for the sake of others. I love that about the Lord. He takes our broken stories, heals them (oh so slowly), then gives us the privilege of being a part of someone else’s freedom story. What a joy!

2 Comments

  1. Laura Elizabeth Flora

    Mary I needed this so much today… I shared something with the wrong person the other day and it has blown up for me 🙄 and I am angry about it all….

    I for the most part am a sharer but there are some parts of me I have never shared because I don’t want to get hurt by others like I have been in the past… I tried to talk about something important once and was shut down and told not to talk about it… For 7 years I kept it In until I meet Pastor Deanna Shrodes and started at her church…. Now I am sharing again but still not ready to share everything now my problem is that I have shared with a few people other then her and one of those people has betrayed my trust, it makes me want to crawl back into my shell and stop sharing but I can’t do that either…. I need prayer for better discernment on who and what can be shared with who…

    Sincerely Laura

    Reply
    • Mary

      That’s so hard, Laura. I’m very sorry. It’s a difficult dance choosing who is (hopefully) safe, and very discouraging and painful when someone betrays our trust.

      Reply

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