Putting your truth out into the world is scary. Having a story about you in the world is scarier. Wondering who knows, what they know, what they think, when will they stop being your friend, exhausting. Living with shame has destroyed my self-esteem, my ability to trust, my courage in building relationships. Rather than allow things to develop naturally, I put my history on the table first, to get the rejection over before I go too far. My label from over 20 years ago, one that haunts and hurts. One I can’t bear to write, as a child who suffered sexual abuse by a community of men who supported each other by sharing little girls. That label is not me. That is not my truth.
Putting my truth out into the world, all at once, instead of waiting for whispers or wondering, is liberating. No longer bound by the shame, freed by an act of facing an accuser who spread rumors, the first time I actually knew who was seeking to destroy what I had built again. Hiding behind shadows, the internet, anonymous reporting sites, people try to tell a story but don’t know the truth. I have lost jobs because employers knew my story but were afraid of the ramifications of a caller who spewed hate. Fortunately I have kept others with employers who were strong enough to shut down those who would try to hurt me. With each show of support, I gain a bit of me back.
I never had the chance as a little girl to tell what was happening to me and have the outrage of a community buoy me as I healed. I lived with secrets and shame until they unraveled my soul and destroyed my career. I paid a heavy price, I still find I must pay but my motivation to do so is decreasing. I can now tell my story, my truth, stop hiding and accept the support of my community of friends who know me and have loved me through it all. Some have loved me anyway, some have loved me and now maybe wonder why. What I am sure of is that I will no longer start relationships telling my sins first. Everyone has them. Everyone has shame. Mine has been very public but without my voice. Now I have told my truth. As I begin to peel back the layers of my experiences, I just want to tell that little girl to yell until someone hears her. Nobody listened 50 years ago. I am learning to yell now.
This is my truth. Scary to yell it, freeing to shed the shame and secrets.