Your mess is your message.
This was the inspiring quote from a sexual assault survivor who was being interviewed on a newsmagazine show. She had taken the painful experience and turned it into a platform for helping other people.
With her deeply painful and personal story, she was traveling around the United States and talking with other sexual assault survivors and other suffering people. Through the tears, she was turning her messy situation into a positive message.
I think anyone who has ever sat in a group therapy situation might be able to relate in some way. For me, when doctors suggested I try group therapy, I was anything but super excited. I did not want to listen to other people’s stories.
It turned out to be an incredible experience. No, I didn’t relate to everyone’s stories and what they had been through. Nor did they relate to all of mine.
But what did happen was that I suddenly did not feel alone in my struggles. And, with the attention not totally focused on me, my heart felt like it began to soften and my empathy increase for these strangers with whom I shared this self-proclaimed safe space.
Just like the sexual assault survivor, each person in the room had a mess (or messes) that became their message to the rest of us gathered in the circle. None of us expected to walk into the room and have these messy details, and sometimes very painful experiences, turn into an inspiring message for others.
But that’s exactly what happened. And my guess is that it’s what happens in group therapy sessions all of the time.
When you’re in the throws of deep depression, or other conditions or illnesses, you often feel like it’s your own little word that just keep shrinking. No one, you think, understands or could relate to these feelings. In fact, beyond pain and sadness, it’s hard to even explain in words or thoughts to yourself what exactly you’re feeling.
On a personal note, it might seem like I should be better equipped in this area. After all, I’ve had people very close to me suffer with depression and think about or attempt to end their own lives.
Still, the pain of depression feels very personal. Your story is your story. Your mess is your mess. And, in a very real way, your mess is your message.
As I sat in that group therapy room day after day, I felt pings of hope as I heard other people share their stories. Some dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts. Some with drug or alcohol abuse. Some with painful childhood memories and experiences.
Yet, as different as our stories were, there was one thing we all seemed to share. Our messes were becoming messages of hope for others.
As I’ve opened up to other people outside the group therapy setting, my mess continued to be my message. And, much to my surprise, other people began to open up and their own mess became a message for me.
Your mess is your message.