Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.Oxford Dictionary
When the idea for Our Hidden Stories started, it didn’t have a name, but it did have a concept—that it was okay to not always have a positive message. This idea can be disturbing for some people, and it can be sad for others. However, it can also be a sigh of relief for a parent or caregiver who feels overwhelmed, overburdened, and downright exhausted.
My family has made drastic changes since getting our son’s diagnosis. We moved twice. We changed careers. We gained and lost weight. We changed our diets from the worst foods you can eat (at diagnosis) to the healthiest foods you can eat. (To be fair, we always made sure the kids ate healthily; it was really me who tended to enjoy a few extra pounds of candy a week.) Our emotions have been all over the place, and I wanted a way to share them with others, to get them out and maybe help someone else in the process—to share what we are going through and what we learned.
I have a dear friend who influenced me in ways I never thought possible. She shared with me her concern about this endeavor:
What if I was helping to perpetuate a message of sadness?
She felt it might not be healthy for me or the readers. She worried that I would want other people to do the same as I was—to focus on the hopeless feelings and not on those of hope for the future. She worried that I had my own agenda … not a bad one, but one of being stuck in a state of mourning, grief, and frustration—a dangerous cycle for an empath such as myself.
At first, I was confused. So many questions ran through my head that I didn’t know which ones to ask first: Did I give the message that I have no hope at all? Did I give the message that I thought she or anyone else shouldn’t have hope? Did I say something that made her feel like she had to follow my agenda? What is my agenda? Actually, my agenda is to stop hiding.
Our Hidden Stories is for those of us who feel we need to hide our emotions because if people knew how we felt, they would worry. It’s also for those of us who feel we need to hide our thoughts because we are afraid other people will not accept us if they know what we are truly thinking. People in difficult situations often won’t share their experiences because they make other people uncomfortable, and we know others don’t like to feel sad. It isn’t that our families and friends don’t love us; it’s because they do. They want us to be happy. They want us to enjoy our lives and, honestly, I want that myself. I assume most of us want that.
This blog, the podcast, … this isn’t for everyone, but neither are all the other sites. You can’t cater to everyone. This is for people who realize they want something more transparent. If my words inspire you to write, to share your story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (see Contributing Your Own Story). If this blog inspires you to want to share with others—via e-mail, on your social media page, in conversation—what we are doing here, please do.
If you want to send readers a message of hope, please do so as long as it’s authentic. We all have struggles with which others can identify and empathize. Navigating those struggles successfully—whatever that means to you—and sharing how and what worked (or what didn’t work and why) may give others hope as they struggle on their own journeys.
If I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t be doing this. None of us would. Our hope just looks different these days. Our threshold for pain is also different now, but our pain is still real. People can tell us whatever they like, but our feelings are justified. These feelings are our own; no one gets to put a time limit on them, to tell us when our grief should be done and when we should move on.
I invite you, readers, to share with me your personal stories as I share with you my own.