The Truth About Lies

AloneWe think we see the world as it is but we see it as we are. And it is through our own eyes, that truth can become corrupted by experience. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is truth.

That’s why it is so hard to expose lies. But to be free, we must hold truth close. In the end, we are our own evidence.

Victims of abuse so often find themselves in a conspiracy of denial. Those involved rearrange the facts and revise their memories to fit a rose-tinted pastiche of nostalgic fiction. And it is through the cliché of “the past is the past, so let it be” that innocence is granted to the perpetrators.

Those who are witness to abuse can never know the meaning of what happened to the abused with the same intensity of experience. It will always seem a lesser event to the observer.

As a victim of childhood abuse, I am passionate about the exposure of the guilty—whether they are still alive or not. Abuse never ends. It stays with the victims for the rest of their lives. We search for what is not there, in the desperate hope that the situation of absence is only temporary. Sometimes all that we are left with is the emptiness of sadness—that indifferent emotional state that is no longer committed to actual tears.

Of course, we should advocate forgiveness, not retribution. But that does not mean we should accept the denial of the guilty nor a corrupt rearrangement of the facts.

I wrote about my experiences from the perspective of a young child, through the eyes of that child. I wrote my book as a catharsis, but much more importantly to help others. Because it is only by revealing the truth that we can erase the obscenity of deception.

Throughout history, it has only been through the collective assessment of the facts that we have been able to define the truth. And by defining the truth, we are able to expose the lies and perhaps even to end the abuse.

Buried Alive

ImageIt may be an ironic thing to say, but it is only with the passing of time that we finally see how much of it we have wasted. Most of us are buried alive in a prison of our own making, believing that we do not have the courage, the strength, the ability to be something different. To live in control.  To have focus, energy, clarity and time for ourselves.

Time is more valuable than money but we rarely see each and every moment in our lives as precious. Time is a gift that is gone as soon as it arrives.

In my early twenties, I was terrified of forming lasting relationships. I was afraid that I would get hurt through rejection, abandonment or betrayal. And as I developed my first long-term relationship, I believed profoundly that I did not have the strength to survive in this world on my own.

It was the perfect trap.

As that relationship developed, it became a hideous disfigurement of what love and friendship should be. The person on the other side of that relationship worked out early on what my inner fears were, and could therefore manipulate every shared situation for their own satisfaction. It became a living nightmare of emotional abuse.

I realized that I had traded the bullying of my childhood for the bullying of my adulthood. Worse, I knew what was happening but I was powerless to escape. Or so I thought.

Of course, there may be many other circumstances that keep you in your prison. The fear of financial ruin, the fear of losing the relationships with your children and your friends. The fear of failure, of humiliation, of starting something new from the beginning. But most of those fears are entirely unfounded, often planted by the very person and situation from which we want to escape.

It took the exposure of betrayal for me to finally muster the strength to leave. And looking back from where I sit now, I am sorry that I did not break out so much sooner.

Actually, we must never see time as wasted. Time is gone and we cannot get it back. You should only look back to help you see your way forward.

You may be in a loving, perfect relationship. But you may not be fulfilled in other ways. Your ambitions, your passions, your self-realization.

Try picturing yourself as you truly want to be. How you should be. Imagine every detail of how you feel, how you are standing, how you are dressed, where you are. Think of the people around you and how they are reacting to you, the positive things they are saying about you.

Now think about why you cannot make that picture come true. Break down every wall, every bar on the window, every lock that is keeping you imprisoned. Even small steps towards the door are better than sitting in your cell. It’s time to free yourself.

Don’t let this world bury you alive.

Worthless

148398503My Mum always warned my older sister that one day I would be big enough to fight back. Most of the time, I would swing my fists wildly at her but they always missed their mark because I was just too small. And so the cycle of bullying and physical and mental abuse continued every single day.

But sure enough, that day arrived. It was a day I dreamed of but never thought would come. It was on a Thursday night that my sister spat in my face and tried to slap me while she pulled at clumps of my hair. I swung my arm out to defend myself, as I always did, but this time it was different. Rather than punching wildly at the air, my fist reached her face and with the sudden thrill of it all, I punched her a second time. She screamed and ran to her room, mouthing obscenities as she slammed the door.

I have never again felt such a burst of complete exhilaration. But although the physical violence ended on that day, the mental effects were far from over.

You see, my sister had taught me for more than ten years that I was worthless. Her constant bullying and abuse went unrestrained, giving me further evidence that I had no value. As a result, my journey into adolescence and adulthood was devastated by a crippling fear of meeting new people and an overwhelming belief that failure would become the inevitable outcome of everything I tried to be.

Even though we grow up, we never leave the child that we were behind. Inside every one of us is that small child, in my case filled with the despair of worthlessness. But there’s something else. Even though some people are no longer in our lives, people we were glad to see gone, they too are still inside us, taunting us with their abusive thoughts.

The single largest obstacle to believing in yourself is believing that you are not worthless. It may sound easy but in reality it is the hardest thing because your self-worth was taught to you when you were a child.

Sometimes, we try to hide who we really are. But the person we hide on the inside is usually the most visible on the outside. A sense of worthlessness invades our confidence, making us shy, embarrassed, weak-willed. It perniciously undermines our attempts at being all that we can be.

It took me two decades to value myself. I started by talking to that inner child. Praising and valuing that child. Stopping the negative thoughts that reinforced a sense of worthlessness.

Children who are subjected to bullying and abuse don’t leave it all behind. They are forced to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Drown the Boy

You can open your eyes under water.  That’s how I could see the black cloak of seaweed circling my head.  But I knew you couldn’t breathe under water.  So when someone pushes your head down into the sea, you have to hold your breath or you will die.  And soon, a ringing begins in your ears and you forget that you could smell cotton candy and doughnuts when you first arrived on the beach.  You forget the excitement of running into the ocean waves. And thoughts of building mighty sandcastles and making a moat and filling it with the frothing sea.

I watched the seaweed circle one more time and then my sister let me up to breathe. I only took one breath before she shrieked with her girlish delight and held my head under that huge wave. My big sister loved the fun of playing with me in the sea. So much more fun than the terrible darkness of the house.

If my twin sister was there in the water, she could have screamed for the adults to come and save me. But she had that broken piece of glass stuck in her foot. It wasn’t her fault that someone left broken glass on the beach.  Dad said it was probably from a cider bottle because no one drinks wine on the beach and it didn’t look like the shape of glass from a beer bottle. Yes, definitely a cider bottle.

And when my big sister finally let me go, I ran to the grown-ups and told them that you can see under water but you cannot breathe and if you do, you will die from drowning. And they laughed and sang, “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside. I do like to be beside the sea.”

They drank their beer and sherry and danced together while the massive ocean roared and the black seaweed silently wished for me to come back and play. Come back and stay forever.

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