Since I can remember, I have been known as the ‘loud mouth,’ the child that said the inappropriate things and the one who embarrassed adults in their white and black lies.
For example, I never believed in Santa. At the age of about 2 or 3 I told my mother that I knew she was Santa because her handwriting was on my Christmas card from the alleged white-bearded man – so obvious, isn’t it!? Roughly around a similar time, knowing that the nursery is going to ask my parents to buy our Christmas presents, I asked for the smallest and most modest (cheapest) toy I could think of because I didn’t want my mum and dad to spend money on my toys that I could sense we had no money for.
Looking back now at this quality I held as a child, I can see what a gift it could have been for my parents, teachers and everybody around. Over the last year or so, whilst living with a woman who does not back down in front of anything in the name of integrity, somebody who would literally (in her own words) “take a bullet for truth,” I have begun to reconnect to that same long lost ability. The ability all human beings share, but do not necessarily practice, to see between the lines and question out loud that which does not seem quite right.
However, I have definitely not been welcoming this with open arms and a ‘hallelujah.’ When I get pulled up it feels exposing. Where I originally come from there’s an expression: “you look like you’ve just stomped the spring onions,” which basically means, you look like you pooed your pants as we like to say in English.
But the feeling is so real. It’s like somebody has just found your dirty laundry and is putting it out for all the neighbours to see. And that’s exactly what is happening: our dirty secrets come out and we begin to realise that we may not be ‘The Good Samaritan’ that likes to help everybody. In fact we could be doing all of the altruistic deeds out of a need to be liked, approved of and recognised. So in truth, we are then more of a manipulative Samaritan – yep, hurts to admit.
When exposed in my so called ‘good’ ways, I can often sulk for days thinking of all of the things I could have said in the conversation which could prove that I was right, that I am ‘good.’ I attack the person with my own thoughts like: “how dare they,” “this is my truth,” “they expect too much of me,” and so much more. However, underneath all of this I have a knowing that what has been presented to me is truth and I cannot alter it, even if I tried.
So we have created a society where we actually encourage people to learn to calculate the most appropriate thing to say in order to keep everybody around ‘happy’ and ‘at peace.’ We make it even more difficult for others to express truth by confronting and attacking the ones who do hold onto the truth, so the ones who choose to comply with the lies can float through the shallow waters of life untouched and untroubled by the outside world.
This path of dishonesty for me has accumulated deep levels of frustration, anger and aggression that have literally made my bones hurt. Anger towards myself for knowing truth so strongly when I see it and feel it, and yet, I choose to remain sitting quietly at the front of the classroom of life, putting my hand up to speak up only when I know that my answers will give me that grade A for compliance and will not ruffle any feathers.
What’s important here is that I know I am not alone in this experience. Someone close to me used to warn me that if I continue to speak without thinking twice first, I will most definitely end up in a marriage where I will get abused. This ‘warning’ came because they witnessed their mother get beaten on a daily basis exactly for the same reason.
But what I have found much worse is the attack we cast upon ourselves by holding back, by not saying the thing that is on the tip of our tongue, the thing that may cause a reaction of any sort in another but the exact same thing which may change one’s life or the life of many others. Forever.
We are afraid of speaking up because we all know what happens to the people who do: Rosa Parks got arrested, Martin Luther King got shot, Jesus was crucified and the loudest i.e. most outspoken child at school receives accolade of academic consequences, detentions and exclusions.
But perhaps it’s time to start considering what happens when we don’t speak up and the self-abusive behaviours this can often lead to, such as eating disorders as it may have happened in the case of Lady Diana, or the devastating depression which left Robin Williams feeling like the only way out was through taking his own life, or any of the other celebrities and people in general who develop drug and alcohol dependencies which can often lead to an overdose and another life lost.
It may be worth questioning whether any of these behaviours would even have a base to develop if we as a society were more honest and open to hearing and expressing what needs to be heard and or said.
After all, we can all feel truth, so why aren’t we all voicing it?
By Viktoria Stoykova, London, UK