"Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth." -- Pema Chodron
When I think of truth, I think about being honest with other people, not lying. But really truth has a much larger meaning. Truth in life is about living true to who you are. It is about being honest with yourself about who you are, what you want, how you want to live and what you have experienced.
What is truth but a memory, a thought, a perspective? What is the difference between truth and fact? Fact is that what happens and can be recorded but even that is just perspective. My memory of an experience will be different from another person's from same experience. So what is truth? What is fact?
I was forced down on the hard surface below the monkey bars and a boy, a fellow 5-year-old, forced his hand below my dress and into my underwear. We were surrounded by the other kids running and playing seemingly oblivious. I could see the teachers huddled in a circle not far away. How could they not see us? Why weren't they doing anything?
I was silent every time this happened. I never told a soul. I felt I was doing something wrong. How could I not have been? Nobody was stopping this. It was being allowed. I was silent. Why didn't I let my voice be heard? Why did I not fight back? I submitted.
One day while sitting in class this same boy handed me a box. I opened it and inside was a small gold bracelet, for me. The teacher saw. How was she able to see this? She gushed over the gift given to me. There were ooo's and aah's. How sweet, right?
For years that bracelet resided in my family's junk drawer, sitting there taunting me. I couldn't throw it away. That would be ungrateful. So instead, each time I rummaged the drawer looking for a rubber band or a battery I was reminded of a memory that I started to question. Was it real? How could it not have been? A 5-year-old wouldn't have been able to imagine such a thing.
I remember being confused but never angry. I was confused as to why this boy did these things. I was grateful that out of all the stories I had ever heard mine was minimal. I justified. I let it pass. I was never the victim.
I now wonder about the boy and what he had suffered to do such a thing. My heart goes out to him. And my heart goes out to the little girl who wouldn't and couldn't speak out. She silenced her voice and this silence has followed her.
I often wonder if what happens makes me a victim of sexual abuse. Do I say no because my story isn't that bad? Do I say no because I hide from this memory? Or do I say yes and allow my truth out?
Or do I say yes and let my voice be heard not because it is a teaching moment but because this truth is one of my truths. Will letting my truth out make a difference to myself or the world? I am not sure. But maybe this truth will open up all my hidden truths that still hide.
Our truths are gifts. They make us who we are. We can run from our truth as much as we can run from a hungry bear in deserted woods. Our truths will follow us and threaten to eat us alive if we don't accept them as part of who we are.
We can wallow in our past truths, the ones that could victimize us, or we can embrace them and learn and empower ourselves from the energy they generate.
In my silence I missed out on support. I hid from a bad experience and I didn't help the boy who harmed me. But now today I have the choice to be open and to honor my experience.
My perspective is one of taking what has happened to me and moving beyond. I will say to the world something I have never said to another soul, I was sexually abused.
Through this confession I have exposed a truth and in this truth I am more whole than I was before. My experiences good and bad have made me who I am today and I am proud of this person, truth be told.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.