Recently, as I talked to my wife about a topic she and her counselor discussed, I realized this topic may be exactly what one of you need to hear or share with someone. So, here it is:

Do you remember a time you got one of those little wood slivers in your finger? You were cleaning off your deck and it got wedged in your finger or you were working on a project and it got embedded in your hand? Every time that happens, I think to myself, “How could something so small hurt so much?” And, “How do I get it out quickly?” Sometimes, they come right out, but there are those that no matter what you do you cannot get it out. You soak it, you try tweezers; nothing works. Sometimes you leave it there, hoping it works its way out on its own.

In our lives, we all have slivers. We have those wounds and trauma in our lives that we talk to a counselor or friend about and we are able to move past them but there are those we don’t take care of; slivers, that if you don’t get out, are going to cause damage.

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Last week I was talking to my counselor about some of the slivers I have in my life; slivers I’ve left in and they fester and get infected. Sometimes the infection goes away but it comes back because I didn’t clean it out fully. (Side note: I wish I had known 20 years ago what a difference a counselor would make in my life; having someone to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly in my life and help me see the impact those slivers are having in my family, friends and work. I am so grateful I know it now.)

One of those slivers in my life that keeps coming back up and getting infected is isolation. When I was a child, before I was in fifth grade, my family moved 13 times. This caused me to isolate myself instead of making new friends every move. Work hard on homework, get great grades, and help my mom take care of my siblings, but not make new friends. This had some good spots among the hard – I learned to love reading, school and learning everything I could. I didn’t talk to anyone about this, I just made a decision at 7 years old that still affects me today.

The sliver came and went throughout high school and college, but went mostly undetected until I got married. I moved to Kansas City with my new husband. I knew him so I didn’t need to have many more strong friendships. This continued throughout my adult life. I have some great friendships now, people in my life that I am so thankful for, but when times are tough, that sliver comes out and I isolate myself, spending time reading or doing research. I will go months without talking to those closest to me.

What slivers in your life do you need to be more aware of? Don’t leave them in to fester and get infected. My counselor says: Name them. Be aware of them. Share them with those who are closest to you so you have accountability.