Facing the truth
Facing the truth isn’t always easy. Especially when you’re afraid that the truth might hurt someone. This happened to me when my kids entered grade school. I realized that I was holding on to painful truths from my childhood and there was a very good chance that my pain would hurt my children unless I found the courage to face it.
The truth about my childhood is that it was marked by betrayal and brokenness. When I was nine years old, my father left his whole life behind to chase a better one and my mother became ill from the loss of her husband and the shame of her situation. My grandparents took sides in the separation and ultimately got lost in the battle.
By age 13, I had suffered the loss of my family unit and, for years afterwards, I worried about how other people perceived me based on my family situation. Did people see me as alone and unworthy of being loved? Did my broken home define me as “broken”? These questions became the foundation of my fear.
I spent much of my early adult life trying to put pieces of my family back together in an effort to feel “whole”. I thought that the family I was born into held the key to my sense of belonging and worth. But, divorce and disease left a trail of severed family relationships and essentially left me on my own. After years of trying to find my place of belonging, I realized in my 20’s that I held the key to that sacred place. I belonged right where I was, surrounded by friends and teachers, on a path to a brighter future.
At 35, when my first child was born, I finally felt a renewed sense of family. I felt at home for the first time in a long time. At 37, my second child was born. I was building a family unit. But, as human nature and fear would have it, I was also building a wall to protect my children from the hurt that I had suffered as a child. I wasn’t sharing pieces of my life story with them or anyone connected to them for fear of judgment and more pain.
When my kids started grade school, I began meeting other parents. I felt gripped by my fear. If they knew my family history, would they see me as broken? Would they see me as less worthy of connection? I was letting fear stand in the way of creating authentic relationships and, by doing that, I was allowing fear to come between my children and me.
By withholding pieces of my past from my kids and from others, I was withholding the very parts of my story that helped shape my life – the parts that make me strong and resilient. By editing the whole truth, I wasn’t giving my whole heart and this, I realized, would cause the deepest pain of all. The pain that comes from not truly knowing someone you love.
I realized that if I am not open with my kids about my experiences, they will never fully understand my points of view. Furthermore, if I hold back from sharing the tough parts of my past with them, they will never learn from me what it takes to overcome the trauma of loss or what it means to harness the power of hope to survive. By sharing all the parts of me, I can help them to see beauty in the dark. The recognition of this gave me the courage I needed to rise up against my fear.
Standing in my truth has meant surrendering to the fear of what others may think of me based on stories and perception. I have learned that the only control I have is how I tell my story. So, I tell it with truth and vulnerability. I share my story with love through my work, words and actions.
It hasn’t been easy to face these hard truths and conquer my fear, but it has allowed me to nurture deeper connections with others. Sometimes the greatest gifts are hidden in the hardest truths.