Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't wait until a bunch of people die to finally express yourself

I have a friend who was repeatedly molested by her grandfather as a child. She now gives her testimony about healing from her abuse, speaks on a national level, and has written a book. However, all of this has to be kept quiet whenever her mother or other members of the family are around. It's not that they don't believe her about the abuse. They know it's true, however, they believe that her testimony isn't appropriate to share. She hears things like:

"What would your grandmother think if she heard you say that?"

"You are causing more pain in the family by sharing your testimony."

"You just need to move on and stop talking about it."

"You've got to think of someone besides yourself..."

Some things are better left unsaid..."

"Some things are meant to be kept within the family..."

"Cant you just tell people God healed you without sharing any details of what happened to you? Why are the details so important? Do people have to know it was your grandfather for your testimony to be effective?"

My question: Does hearing any of these questions nauseate you like it does me? Why do we so often hear of people watching out for the perpetrator than caring about the victim's feelings?

Another friend of mine is experiencing new found freedom now that their parents have died. In contrast to my other friend, they have never been abused. However, they were raised in an extremely conservative family who would not approve of the transparent way they now express themself in their writing and speaking. They were raised by a parents in a generation that simply kept feelings more to themselves and didn't share on such "personal matters" openly. People in the old days didn't write open blogs about things that hurt, scared, or puzzled them. Blog posts like this, or this, or this, wouldn't have existed in our parents generation. They just kept their feelings inside or maybe discussed them with a close friend but a lifestyle of openness wasn't exactly in vogue. Please don't misunderstand that my friend is glad their parents are dead. They miss their parents very much. But they have remarked to me that with their parents death a part of them has come alive. The beautifully transparent part of themself could never emerge publicly before because every time they tried a little bit their parents expressed such disappointment, they retreated back into their shell.

It's a pity that living an honest life disappoints some people. Blogging your true life experiences or feelings is offensive to some. In fact, I've gotten a fair amount of mail about this myself, from people who know me and people who don't. And if it's negative, I choose to disregard it. Because I'm not going to wait until everybody else in the generation before me dies, or gets quiet, before I'm my authentic self.

Suppressing someone else's honest expression, in my opinion, is one of the worst things anyone could ever do. The more my abused friend shares, the more I think she's a hero. The more my other friend speaks out and charts new territory the more I admire them. More and more I like who I see them becoming. They are finally set free to be what they were always created to be now that they don't have a bunch of people they are trying not to disappoint by sharing their feelings or life experiences.

Our truth is our truth...why shouldn't we share it? Why should someone else's fear of our living an honest life become our problem? Iff they have no respect for our freedom to share our personal truth, do they really love or value us anyway? Are they even worth of our relationship? And why, why, why do we feel ANY responsibility to protect abusers??!!! Let's stop this insanity already.

Shakespeare once said, "To thine own self be true." I have utmost respect for people in previous generations however, trasparency wasn't their strong suit. Hopefully our generation has learned the importance of doing better when it comes to this.

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