I sat down with the blank page before me, thinking about what to write about. Thinking I “have” to write something this week. And when I feel like I “have” to write something, my creative voice takes a break and waves to me from the bar poolside somewhere. But, today, while listening to a podcast by Brene Brown (which by the way, if you don't know her, I highly recommend her books. Her work on shame will change your life), she commented about people and their stories.

“Every person has a story that can break your heart. Most people have a story that could bring you to your knees. We are all made of strength and struggle. We are all made of light and darkness….It's tough. It's wonderful, and amazing and beautiful, but it's also messy and tough and imperfect.”

She goes on to say that there is healing in telling our stories and that comparative storytelling can keep us from revealing our own. For instance, when I finally had the courage to admit to myself that I had serious patterns of disordered eating and exercise, my inner-critic told me NOT to tell my story because there were a million women whose stories were worse than mine. Who was I to speak out about my pain? Who did I think I was saying that I hated my body and my life for so long?

But, I did it anyway. I covered my eyes and jumped.

And it was messy, and scary, and imperfect, just like Brene Brown says. And what I've learned in all of this storytelling, is that once you get it out; whether it's to a loved one, or a friend, or a therapist, or support group, once you get it out it gets a little bit easier. And then….you can say, “Yeah, this happened to me.” and then you can learn from it, or cry about it, or be so fucking pissed off about it that you throw dishes across the room or whatever it is that you need to do to start healing. Because I'll tell you what I know to be true about holding in our stories. It's like trying to hold back vomit. Gross analogy, I know, but true. It will come out eventually.

So, on this Valentine's Day an act of self-love would be for us to start telling our stories. Not to make it your identity, but to release it. So you can be seen for all of who you are. Because another thing I know to be true, is that we are all beautiful. We all have pain and we all have the strength to heal from it and become stronger. All of us.