The Power and Purpose of Sharing Our Stories

Silence doesn’t serve us

Mindy Stern
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readJul 10, 2022

Okay well, in retrospect, the bottle of pills, the tablets of Tylenol poured out on the yellow formica kitchen table, swallowed slowly, methodically, one by one, was a little misguided. 16. So young, empty, so afraid. I wish I had words back then, that cold January day so long ago when I wanted to die.

Several months later, a friend died by suicide. I wish she had words that awful, balmy day so long ago. In the aftermath of her death, I spoke to my high school, shared my story. I mean, I’m sure most people already knew, given the way high school works, but it didn’t matter, I felt brave and my story seemed worthy. Maybe it could save someone, help someone else searching for words. Please help me.

I’m not sure if I’d call the stomachaches misguided, I mean, they kept me home watching Love American Style and General Hospital, but then too, I wish I had words. I’m scared. Lonely. I feel inadequate. When I was young, in the middle of the night, I didn’t crawl into my parents’ bed, snuggle, ask them to hold me when I felt afraid. I took my blanket and pillow and lied on the floor below my mom’s side of the bed. My little body, still boyish and limber, half underneath the heavy mattress and metal frame, half out. I wish I had the words to ask for what I needed.

The sex, the cigarettes, the coke, the weed, screwing whatever his name was in his parent’s hot tub. I wish I had the words. I need help. If only I knew those words then.

Get your hands off me. I wish I knew those words when he rubbed his hand over my vagina, over the tough bumpy seam of my Lee jeans, standing in their freezing cold foyer waiting for my friend, his daughter. He touched me. I was 10. I told no one, too fearful to speak out, too ashamed to share my story.

Misguided silence is misogyny’s gift. If only I had the words.

I am 18, June’s heat has arrived, high school graduation is around the corner. We lay in the dark, side-by-side in sleeping bags on the low ply carpet of my dank basement. I can make out her face in what little light sneaks through the windows. She’s not a genuine friend, just the kind of fake friend one maintains to…