There are lot of things I used to believe. Some of them make me laugh to think about now.
I distinctly remember a short period of time in my childhood when I believed that once a towel got wet, it could never become dry again. This was thanks to the following silly joke:
Q: “What gets wetter the more it dries?”
A: “A towel!”
How?! Why?! What exactly does that mean?! This was a revelation to me and something totally unexplainable until someone helped (approximately six year old) me walk through the pun and I sheepishly tried to play it off like I had understood the humor from the first.
I also once believed that the word “cleavage” was spelled and pronounced “cleavlege”. Granted, I didn’t read or use the word all that often in my preliminary and conservative vocabulary so it took awhile for my mistake to be organically corrected. Every once in a while, I giggle when the word still inevitably comes out that way. It was just how I had initially learned to say it, wrong or not.
As in these examples from my early years, I frequently misunderstood a word or concept of something I encountered. In my ignorance or enthusiasm, I tended to assume that incorrect belief or bit of faulty knowledge until I inevitably encountered the correction that would set me straight. It’s a natural part of growing up.
Being curious has always been one of my strong suits and I’m still working on always embracing that part of who I am. I’m a big supporter of environments that encourage learning and creativity. Mistakes are a natural step in almost any learning process and there should be no shame in that. Hopefully we can always be learning, challenging and changing our beliefs for the better and we should be able to do that without fear of having what we use to believe held against us.
There is, however, a huge difference between a mistaken belief born of ignorance or trial-and-error or well-meaning enthusiasm or childish assumptions, and the mistaken belief that is born out of lies. Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean it’s a lie. There is still room for it to be an honest error or misunderstanding. Lies are all about intent. No matter the ultimate and maybe complex reasons someone would want to deceive, a lie is defined in the dictionary as “an intentionally false statement”.
Lies and the beliefs they birth can be very powerful. Lies can be told by an individual or by a group or society. They can survive for years and become embedded in our lives and systems. Even though a lie can be something that was said to belittle, control or hurt us, many times we go on to internalize that lie in a way that it becomes something we believe. We then begin to tell the lie to ourselves without the liar’s further encouragement. We don’t necessarily adopt the intent behind the lie, and it can be an entirely subconscious process most of the time. But over the years it can begin to effect us in deeper and more impactful ways than we care to imagine.
This is so dangerous in our childhoods when we are our most open, curious, shameless, and hopeful selves. The lies that sneak into our hearts and minds and souls are present for our most formative years, helping determine how we internalize every other message and experience as our life continues. Remove the lie and sometimes you are left with decades of life that don’t make sense and you have to do a lot of work to make new sense of what you thought you knew or believed.
I remember the day I first shed light on some of the lies I had been telling myself. I had been seeing a professional therapist for a few months now and had started working through many of my personal questions and the varied consequences of what I had gone through in my childhood and life up until that time. At my therapists direction, I had been learning how to actually pay attention to the narratives and inner dialogue that would result from emotional reactions. It was a task for which I hadn’t previously possessed the needed vocabulary. Nor had I the time and safe place to slow down and truly listen to what I was saying to myself.
That day, I endeavored to actually put into words and write out distinct messages that I had heard and told myself, the lies I had come to believe. Some were shocking to see once they were out in the open on a clean white piece of paper. Some easily disintegrated under the light of truth. Others have proved to be deeply rooted in painful events and layered dialogues that I have yet to fully uncover. But I lean into that feeling and that process because I am passionate about truth and I believe that truth brings healing.
I am going to share below some of the lies I used to believe. Perhaps you will be surprised by some of them. Perhaps you will resonate with some of them.
(For more context on my story and background, click HERE.)
LIES I USED TO BELIEVE:
(In no particular order)
1. One day I will be rescued from this situation.
2. I will never escape from this situation. I cannot break free.
3. I am unworthy of rescuing.
4. I am the problem/The problem is my fault.
5. I can trust my father.
6. One day my father will change.
7. My body does not belong to me. My body belongs to my father until one day when it will belong to my husband.
8. I will never be able to marry.
9. I am responsible for taking care of my mother.
10. My thoughts, my beliefs and everything I create belongs to my father and is under his authority.
11. I can make myself forget about this and I will be fine.
12. Women exist to satisfy, serve and please men.
13. I will never be equal to a man therefore I will always be unsatisfactory to a man.
14. I will fail outside of my family’s blessing.
15. My father made me into who I am.
16. Someone else has to lose for someone to win.
17. My needs don’t matter/I shouldn’t have needs.
18. I must hide my true self/true thoughts/true feelings to survive.
19. A woman becomes undesirable to a man once she has children/Having children ruins you and your relationships.
20. [Someone else’s decision] is God’s will.
I would love to talk more about these beliefs individually and how they revealed themselves in my healing process in future posts. Some of these are themes that I still encounter regularly when doing my ongoing internal work. Some have become beautifully resolved.
I’ve become very passionate about leaning into my vulnerabilities with others; key people did the same for me when it really counted and it changed my life as a result. Having experienced someone putting down their shield and sharing their vulnerabilities, I found that it transformed the very space around me and invited my heart out from behind my own protective wall. It rewrote what I thought was possible.
When we take the chance to reveal our deep histories, our current struggles, and how they’ve shaped us, it can be the most terrifying experience of our lives. We’ve opened ourselves up to the possibility of judgment, rejection, and new pain. But it’s also the only way to be open to the possibility of deep love, acceptance and grace. There can be no true and meaningful connection without vulnerability.
When you have connection and community, you can tackle the things you’ve kept hidden and protected. You can transition from surviving to recovering, from hiding to healing. It takes serious work that only you can do, but you don’t have to go through it alone.
I apologize if this is a bit much so soon; I actually thought I would take a little more time on other things before diving into such big topics on this blog. And don’t worry, not everything will be heavy!!! I would love to share some travel journals from my international trips this year, some creative writings both old and new, and I will endeavor to keep you guys updated as to what I have going on and coming up. But more than anything else, I want to keep this space authentic to me and keep sharing what is most relevant and on my heart.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Thank you so much to everyone who has signed up so far and subscribed to this blog!!!! It’s been an amazing reaction for me to see and all your words are filling me with motivation and validation. This is a new undertaking for me as a writer and you guys are such an encouraging force for me right now!!! I have high hopes for us all. <3
- Jessica Fisher 🙂 9.14.18.