Choosing The Truth
BY. RACHEL WHITE
“That isn’t what happened,” she said.
And for years I believed her. Believed that I had gotten the punchline of my own story wrong. I must have been confused. Misinterpreted the situation. He didn’t mean to hurt me. He would never hurt me. She was right. She had to be right. Because she was my mother.
I learned to distrust my own perception of reality. I couldn’t rely on my own judgment. My mind was not a safe place for me. My emotions were a threat.
And so I lived my life with invisible hands around my throat. All of the words I wanted to speak were choked and censored until I completely forgot who I was. I became numb. Feigned happiness was a glossy overlay covering the truth of my being so that I couldn’t even see or hear myself anymore. I became the image of who she wanted me to be and believed it was real.
But then my body began to fail me. I couldn’t get out of bed. Every movement was a battle of sheer will. The doctors called my condition chronic, but the word chronic began to feel like forever. A painful, unrelenting fatigue penetrated my entire being so that I couldn’t get away from myself. I felt trapped inside my own body and began to resent it, seeing my body as separate from myself. My prison. My enemy. For surely it was attacking me.
I tried to run away from it. Tried to numb the pain, but that made my body rage even louder until finally I couldn’t ignore the messages I was receiving. My body was screaming at me to WAKE UP. To come back to my truth, to remember who I am. What’s the point in living if the life you’re living is a lie? My body wasn’t my enemy. It was a reflection, a mirror of the pain I felt in my soul and had suppressed.
I peeled the heavy blanket of denial off of me. My life was not the Christian-American fantasy my mother said it was. I did not belong here. I did not belong with these people who had hurt me and called it love. These people who had taught me to enable abuse and called it “turning the other cheek.” These people who had manipulated me into silence with religious guilt and called it salvation.
When I told my story, my real story, for the first time, my family lashed out. “Stop telling lies,” they said. “We love you.”
Part of me wanted to crawl back underneath that blanket. Wanted to hide. Wanted to believe them. But I couldn’t. I loosed that invisible grip around my throat. I found my voice again. And it was loud. And it was clear. I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Couldn’t suppress it anymore.
I told them, “no.”
And I kept saying “no” to what no longer served me. Started saying yes to what did.
I kept choosing my truth. Kept choosing myself.
Kept choosing my freedom.
Now I’m alive. I’m real. I’m learning what love actually looks like. What I actually look like. I’m healing. I’m getting to know myself, and I like her better than the illusion my mother painted.
Rachel Marie White is a writer, entrepreneur, chronic illness warrior and abuse survivor. She’s the creator of Sleepy Santosha where she teaches online yoga programs for people living with disabilities, chronic pain and chronic illness. It’s all about unconditional self-acceptance—this is the thing that does the healing.