Sharing Our Stories

Owning your StoryA big part of my life over the past 20 years has been about listening to people’s stories.  Working as a peer supporter and trainer of peer supporters has allowed me the great privilege of listening to great darkness and watching people as they allowed that darkness to fade while they reached toward the power and light which had eluded them for so long.

Telling the dark parts of our lives to people is something to be approached with caution in some ways.  There are people who cannot be trusted with our stories.  People who will use our stories and weaknesses against us.

Sometimes the people who abuse our stories are people with power over us and it makes it even more difficult to share because we have been hurt.

This month I have spent two weeks with people who are learning to share their stories in a way which will help other people open up and begin to share theirs.  They are learning the value of the story and the importance of the telling of it.  They are also learning about listening to stories and guarding their own hearts and the hearts of others.

In these 20 years working in mental health, I have heard all sorts of stories.  I have met people who know the depths of despair, who have fought demons most of us could never even face,  who have lived in situations of poverty and abuse which would make the movies look tame…and yet they are here to tell their tale and support others who need to do the same.

I imagine there are not too many people who do not have some sort of dark story to tell.  I have not read the book that goes with the picture in this blog but I have heard Brene Brown speak and I can imagine she has good, scientific, proof that her premise is truth.

My proof is not scientific but rather qualitative.  I have seen people rise above impossible odds in their battle with mental health issues and move into lives they could never have imagined.  The turning point for all of them, including myself, was when we realized our darkness could offer light to others simply by the telling of it.

I would encourage to find more of Brene Brown and listen to her TED talks.  She is a very down to earth scientist whose research makes real impact in lives.

If life seems to be holding you in the dark places, take a chance and tell someone you trust about the darkness so you can find all the light you were meant to know.


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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