“We share our experience, strength, and hope.” I remember the leader sharing this at the start of our support group. I wondered how they could make such an offer.
Experience, strength, and hope. These all sounded like wonderful elements I needed in my life. I really needed to hear others’ experiences so I wouldn’t feel alone in my distress. I wanted to pull strength from them all and was certainly anxious for hope. If they could give me even an ounce of each of these I would leave satisfied…I did.
Many women and men working with me echo these same sentiments, if perhaps in slightly different forms.
One woman said to me recently, “Do you think other women struggle as much in their marriage as I do? I feel so alone.”
Another woman said, “I feel so crazy. I don’t know if anyone can understand. I need to know I’m not alone in healing from emotional abuse.”
A man said, “Is there any hope for our marriage? I can’t imagine others have been able to save their marriage if it’s like ours. I feel like I’ll never change as much as I need to.”
Sadly, we tend to share the highlights of our lives far more quickly than the low points. Or, if we share our difficulties, we hide critical aspects of our story. We are frightened of sharing the challenges we are facing, tending to withdraw and isolate. This isolation, of course, intensifies our problems.
I’ve found that we have opposing feelings—the fear of being exposed and vulnerable, people finding out about all our warts—and the intense desire to expose ourselves and allow others to see us for who we are and show us kindness and acceptance. This inner battle adds to our tension and anxiety.
What is the answer? I believe the answer lies in the power of community. We were created by God to “dwell together in unity.” We were designed to experience koinonia—the Greek word used in the New Testament for fellowship, communion, and sharing our lives. In gathering with others we find we are not alone. We discover we can be loved and cared for, just as we are.
So, if you have a deep yearning to connect with others who share a common story and have walked in your shoes, you are not alone.
Here at the Marriage Recovery Center we offer many opportunities for you to connect with other people and find healing in community. We have found that there is great healing power in sharing your story with others who understand your struggles. Our group therapy programs are a powerful, life-changing experience where couples and individuals learn from each other, and draw strength and hope from one another.