“Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgement.” ~ Brene Brown
If I say this, if I write this, who won’t talk to me anymore?
Who will unfriend me on Facebook? Who will I offend? Who will I anger? Or worse yet, who will lash out at me in hatred?
These are deeply held fears in our socially-driven society.
These are fears I used to have before I found the courage to write about my life and my healing journey.
I write things that are not easy to write. I write things that are not easy to read. I write about atrocities that human beings of any age—but especially young, innocent, impressionable children—should not ever have to endure.
I write the truth and the deep and profound truth is, it happened to me.
It continues to happen every single day. One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually violated. We keep hurting one another and it needs to stop.
We as a collective whole need to end the cycle of pain that consumes so many on our planet. We need to look at one another and see the pain of our fellow man with compassion. We need to use a lens of love to see the pain that permeates our world. We need to have the strength, courage and power to stand up as one and say, “Enough is enough! No more!”
What stops us from doing this? Why can’t we end the multi-generational cycle of abuse that is so pervasive in our world?
Shame stops us. The belief that we are not worthy of love, belonging and that we somehow deserved what happened to us.
Fear stops us. The belief that we are broken, alone and no one else has ever been through what we have been through.
Love stops us. The belief that if we tell our truth, we will hurt people we love and who love us.
I remember believing all of these things. Now I see the truth.
No human being, no child, on the face of this earth deserves to be violated, shamed or intimidated in any way shape or form—ever. I did not deserve it. You did not deserve it. That is the truth.
I am not broken alone. You are not broken alone. There is not one perfect human being on this planet. We are all in various stages of love and pain. That is the truth.
If my truth hurts people I love, who love me, I have to consider what kind of love was being offered. “I will love you if you pretend it is all perfect on the outside.” “I will love you if you pretend you are not in pain.” “I will love you if you are silent and keep the secret.” “I will love you if you stay in pain.” “I will love you if you don’t leave me here alone in my sadness and misery.”
Conditional love has requirements. It is pain and fear disguised as love.
I had to consider that love and know with every cell of my being that I am worthy of so much more. The deep unconditional love that every single one of us deserves begins with the endless, abundant wellspring inside all of us just waiting to be set free. That is the truth.
What does the world look like if we know at our core that we all deserve to be safe and connected to other loving human beings?
What does the world look like when we all embrace our imperfections, all the broken pieces that make up the whole that is each and every one of us?
What does the world look like when we love one another without conditions, when we lift each other up regardless of where we are on our journey back to pure love?
I remember breaking the secret for the first time at the age of 43. I told two of my closest family members, people who’ve known me my entire life. As I began to speak, he was visibly shaken and she started to cry. I thought she was crying tears for what I’d endured, then she said, “It happened to me too. I’ve never told anyone ever in my entire life. I’ve never uttered these words…”
She was 66—she had lived almost an entire lifetime in shame, fear and silence.
Since finding my voice, many other survivors have shared their deepest secret with me. It happens to me several times a week now, almost daily. It always starts with the same thing “I’ve never said this out loud to anyone ever but…” I always know what comes next. Sadly, it’s predictable now. It no longer surprises me.
I want it to surprise me someday soon. I want this vicious cycle to end in my lifetime. I am confident we can end this. But how?
If all survivors simply said, “Me too,” we could, first and foremost, end the silence.
When I was not strong enough to heal for me, I did it for my children, to be the best mother I could possibly be to them. They now see a mother with a strong voice and deep love for herself and those around her. In my home I’ve assured my children that there is nothing shameful or scary that we cannot talk about. I’ve proven to them over and over that my love for them has no conditions.
If people in pain knew that the pain they were about to inflict on another could not be silenced, they would consider other outlets.
If there was no such thing as evil in this world, just people in pain who don’t want to be alone in their misery, what would the world look like? It would look like a lot of people hurting themselves and others. Pain breeds pain and it ends with me.
Ending the silence ends the shame. Ending the silence ends the fear. From there, we could all begin to lift each other up in compassionate, unconditional love instead of hurting each other and tearing each other down.
Author: Christie Del Vesco
Apprentice Editor: Alex McGinness; Editor: Nicole Cameron