The Importance Of Truth And Open Communication In Our Society
This morning I opened a midnight text message from an old friend which said something along the lines of
“Can I please talk to you? I know it’s late. But I need help. It’s ok if you can’t. Just a warning, it’s heavy shit.”
I had been asleep when she sent it, but called as soon as I was awake enough to be present with her.
It turns out that her body is remembering childhood sexual trauma.
She just wanted to chat about what was happening for her, as she knows that it has been something that I have journeyed and have come through the other side of.
In the conversation, she thanked me because she has seen how open I have been about this on Facebook and other electronic media. She said that seeing my journey and my honesty has given her faith and hope for what she is beginning to really face. It has given her permission to be more honest and true about what had actually happened to her. It has helped to free her to let go of some of the shame around it and speak to others about it. It has helped her to see a living example of what it means to let go of that stuff and step into your full shine.
Because there is life on the other side of admitting the truth. Of voicing the shame, and pain, and sense of violation. There is freedom and joy and safety within the self, no matter the situation. No matter if the dude (or woman) checking you out is a sleaze bag, or if he’s in full, loving devotion and appreciation.
Sometimes people tell me that I am brave.
I guess I am. But mostly, my attitude to openness and Truth is one that doesn’t even hold space for there to be a question around bravery or not. To me it is not about being brave. It is about staying alive. Because I know that when I’m not honest, when I’m not in full recognition of some shadowy part of myself, a little (or big) part of me closes up. That closing up feels like torture to me. It hurts. It is so painful. It feels like death.
So many people don’t talk (to each other, or even themselves) about the hidden things, because they’re afraid of the possible pain it may cause. For me, the pain of holding shit in is more painful. It hurts too much. I guess I’m not so much brave as I am in diffusion of a possible source of excruciation.
One of my greatest tests to my integrity around this way of being was telling my Dad about my childhood sexual abuse.
One of the things my father has always said, since I was a child, is that “secrets will kill you.” And it’s true. Holding the shame, the fear, the vulnerability inside you, in secret, lets it stay in the dark. It gives it the room and non-acknowledgement to fester and grow, until a nice fat rotting slug monster is occupying your whole cellar, and squelching its way up the stairs into the main house. Taking over the building.
Taking some inspiration from a dear friend, who was going through a similar thing, I recognised that I would never have clear, open, honest communication with men unless I shared this with my father. The original man in my life. So off I went to the country side, to have brunch with my Papaji and tell him some things that needed to be said.
I was pretty scared. Mostly I was terrified that he’d get a crowbar and go and beat the dude into a living pulp. Don’t all fathers want to protect their children from things such as this?
I pre framed the conversation with a number of needs
“I need you to trust that I’m ok now. I need you to respect my process and privacy and not take action on this -“
He cut me off.
“Darling, just say it. And trust me to respect whatever it is you’re going to tell me.”
I didn’t expect to cry. But I did. Right as the waitress was serving our eggs. The serviettes were the really thick kind that soak up a lot of sauce, but aren’t that great for blowing your nose on. It was a relief. For the first time in my life I was actually allowing my father to be my father. I was letting him, in some way, through this knowledge, be the protector.
No one was beaten with a crowbar or even approached.
Where I’m at now (after a much longer journey that involves a lot more than this story), is the healthiest, clearest, safest and most loving relationship I’ve ever had with my father AND WITH MEN IN GENERAL. Honesty, upfront communication and a dedication to live (instead of dying in the darkness) is a big part of what has got me through.
If we were all able to let go of the shame around our secrets and histories, the world would be a much lighter and more deeply connected place. There would be more peace, acceptance and intimacy on all levels. Everyone would be FREE to be themselves and to heal, knowing that they were held in love by the world around them. We would UNDERSTAND each other, rather than get pissed off, through assumption, not fully recognising the differences in our values and ways of being.
It would be the norm for everyone to know that they are ok, just as they are. That no-one has to try to be anyone other than themselves.
I want to be clear. I’m not saying that you should make your friends your therapist and dump your shit on them. That’s what therapists are for (not necessarily dumping, though). And if you are going through healing something like this then I STRONGLY recommend that you find someone who specialises in the field of sexual trauma (or whatever area you’re working on), who you trust and who you feel comfortable with, and work 1:1 with them. There is a lot to be said for 1:1 therapy and the way in which this relationship, time and trust can help to heal the ways in which you may have been let down or violated as a child.
But what I am saying is, without dumping, to open the lines of transparency, trust and communication with those you love. Without expectation of their response (otherwise, how are you loving THEM?!). I’m not only saying this in regards to trauma or the shadowy stuff. I’m saying this in regards to the small stuff too. And to the loving stuff. Be free with it! Because without that honesty, where is the connection? Where is the intimacy? Where is the growth, trust and real love?
I am really grateful to have people in my life who meet me on this path of radical conscious relating and communication (just the other day, my best friend Vanessa was saying that we should record some of the conversations we have so that people could know what’s actually possible in friendships). I also know that the reason I have found these people (after a long time searching), was through my own dedication to that in myself and in my relations with others.
I know no matter what daemons are in my closet I will be accepted. I know communication has allowed that.
I would like for everyone to know what that total acceptance, safety, connection, intimacy and love feels like.
What can you do?
Work on yourself first.
I recommend starting with the mind (please find a therapist!!!) and gradually moving into body centred practices (as this is where the depths of trauma is stored. Your psyche may need to warm up just with the mind first so it feels safe.)
Here are some things that helped me:
The book “A Survivor’s Guide to Sex” By Staci Haines
Transfiguration (a great way to have the beauty of your inner feminine through the eyes of the masculine: especially when you’ve felt the feminine to be weak and vulnerable your whole life).
CONSTANT JOURNALING AND ART PROCESSES
Non-Violent Communication (which will help give you a frame work around how to start this communication thing off with other people.)
Alison Armstrong’s books which will help you to reframe your views on men.
Sexual, loving Relationship
Constant letter writing between my inner masculine and feminine.
And as always, the questions:
How do I feel?
How do I want to feel?
What do I need to feel that way?
How can I fulfil that need?
Essentially, communication gives us permission to be ourselves. Shedding light on the shadow also reveals that our daemons don’t make us into something shameful. They make us human. And they provide the greatest manure to grow a beautiful garden.
I’d love to see our world a gorgeous forest, using the best fertiliser available to us.
But the final thing I want to say is:
If you are in the depths; if you’re in the darkness…
If you’re experiencing trauma and you don’t know how to get out…
I just want to tell you that it’s ok.
And you can get out of there.
Not only is it possibly, but it’s probable.
I’ve done it, and I’ve seen so many other people do it.
And acknowledge what it is you’re feeling right now.
Big love, all.
Feature Image: Picasso Two Women Running on the Beach
Courtesy of The National Picasso Museum, Paris.