We are all liars. In the very moment that our trust is violated and we are abused, we have to make a decision - will we tell or will we cover it up. Most of us, because we are young when the abuse occurs, don't even make this decision in a deeply insightful way. We simply know something about what has happened is bad and wrong, and you get in trouble for doing bad and wrong things - so we don't tell.
This means that we then sit down to breakfast with this huge thing happening that we can't speak about. When asked if anything is wrong, we say, "I need more butter on my pancakes." Our word becomes more and more degraded over time. Soon, we tell little lies out of habit rather than necessity. This disconnection from what we say lining up with what is happening, what we are doing is what I call "a lack of integrity."
Now, integrity is one of those words that usually makes people stiffen uneasily. It seems to be a word that connotes unachievable heights. For me, though, integrity is simply saying what you mean, and meaning what you say - then following through with action to see what you've given your word to come to fruition. For example, don't say, "I hate you, I'm never going to talk to you again" if you don't mean it. If you do mean it, then do it! Don't say, "We should get together for lunch sometime" unless you mean it. If you do mean it, then send an email or make a call to actually get a date on the calendar.
In the world of recovery, we hear a lot about building back your self-esteem, getting over the shame and guilt, forgiving, and a myriad of other areas that are affected by abuse (and, to be sure, we're going to talk a lot about them in this book). Yet, the one area I've noticed doesn't get addressed often is the impact of abuse on our ability to live honest, integrous lives.
Language and what we say is extremely powerful. For too long, we have been disconnected from our voice as a way to restore integrity and to cut out the lying.
I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on how you are currently using your word. What areas of life do you notice that you haven't been saying what you mean, meaning what you say or following through in? How often is your word aligned with your actions? What excuses do you turn to when you break your word?
Also, spend some time reflecting on what was it like for you to have to keep the abuse secret if you were unable to talk to anyone about what happened at the time or even still today?
Rachel specializes in Trauma Recovery & Relationship coaching & holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. She supports her clients in identifying and stripping away the patterns of thought and behavior that keep them from recovering from past trauma or making changes in their relationships. She developed her Trauma Recovery & Relationship coaching programs based on her learning and personal insights and has been successfully working with clients for the past five years.