I attended a seven day retreat in a beautiful small village on the west coast of Ireland.
On the second day, we were all asked to bring an item to introduce ourselves with.
I decided to share one of my poems called, “When It Was Over.”
I usually share the poems strictly on my blog.
I had never spoken one before, especially to a group of 25 strangers.
The poem I read was emotional and disturbing.
I broke down in tears.
My voice was shaking.
The poem was taking back to my teenage years of sexual abuse.
After I read my last line, the room was silent.
All eyes were on me.
I was embarrassed and couldn’t stop the tears.
I couldn’t look at anyone, my eyes fixed on the ceiling.
“Oh, why didn’t I bring a paint brush and say something simple like, Hi I’m Jack and I like to paint,” I thought to myself.
I could tell people were shocked by what I read.
I felt the tone of the room shift from light hearted to stiff.
I felt like a black sheep.
In that moment, I wished that I had magical powers to teleport far away.
In bed that evening, I began to question everything.
“What am I doing here?”
“Coming here was a mistake.”
“Sharing my poem was a BIG mistake,”
I wanted to go home.
I wanted to call Rob and tell him to pick me up early.
Instead, I turned off the bedroom light falling asleep with a feeling of regret.
A regret in ever sharing the poem in the first place.
Upon waking, I still wanted to go home, but it was all my own doing.
No one at the retreat made me feel this way.
No one made me read “When It Was Over.”
I chose to read it.
And yes, people stared at me.
If someone else shared a poem about sexual abuse, I’d probably stare too.
It’s not something you hear everyday, although it sadly happens everyday.
It was the third day of the retreat.
Our group session started at 9am.
I walked into the room, unable to look at anyone.
I took my seat hoping everyone had forgotten what I read the day before.
We had a long day.
There were a lot of questions, emotions and conversations.
I had two conversations with separate women I’ll never forget.
Both were sexually abused in their childhood, like me.
I recognized their fear and nervousness while talking.
My heart felt for them.
I saw myself in them.
But above all, I felt proud of them for sharing and being brave.
Because of those two moments, I was no longer embarrassed of my poem the day before.
I had just witnessed the power of sharing.
Did my poem have anything to do with the two women opening up to me?
I don’t know and I don’t need to know.
I’m just glad they did.
Because from experience, sharing is the first step to healing.
And sharing allows others to feel more comfortable to share.
Hearing the stories they shared helped me, because I no longer felt like a black sheep.
And I no longer felt alone.
So, on the third night as I lied in bed, I fell asleep with a new perspective and no regrets.