I believe in the power of honesty. I don’t mean telling the truth to other people, though that is important. I mean telling the truth to ourselves.
When I was sixteen, my mother and I went to India for a month to work with organic farmers. One day, we were riding the bus home, jammed on with hardly enough space to breath. I felt a hand start feeling around my hips, searching for a wallet. I laughed to myself because I was wearing a skirt without pockets. Minutes later, the hand had not given up. Instead, it started moving upwards. I froze. My mind stopped working, I began just hoping the hand would go away. I unfroze when the hand was about three-quarters of the way up my shirt. I slapped the hand away and swore at the man to whom it belonged.
When I got home, I sunk into misery. I blamed myself for what had happened, asked myself what I had done to deserve it. I didn’t tell my mom what had happened. Over time, my emotional and subsequent physical pain grew, at times I grew suicidal, hoping death would block out the pain. Six months after it happened, a friend and I spent the night together. That night I relived the experience for her, it was very painful to do, but when I woke up in the morning it felt like a huge weight had finally been lifted off my shoulders. Reliving the experience and talking about it allowed me to take a step back and see that it was not my fault. I was able to release the pain and anger I had been holding in. I accepted what had happened to me, and finally, I was able to move on.
A month later, I wrote a long letter to my mother. In it I told her that I had been sexually harassed. I also told her something I had been holding in for years, I was a lesbian. After this letter I was able to totally release.
I only realized later how much I had hurt myself by holding the truth in. Though the man who sexually harassed me hurt me a lot, I realized I had hurt myself ten times more by denying what had happened to me and keeping it in. I believe that being honest with myself was the biggest lesson I had to learn in my life.
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