When I came across this quote about authenticity, the first question I asked was why we would not want our true selves to be seen.
An Inauthentic Past
But then I remembered my own past. And the answer was clear to me. You see, I had lived a lie for so many years.
I got married when I was only 19. It was a highly traditional South Asian, arranged, marriage and I had to follow the norms. I did all the things that I thought would make me appear more feminine. I tried to appear less intelligent and less well-read, less confrontational and more respectful of my ex-husband and his family. They needed me to provide heirs. The heavy yoke of tradition weighed me down. The conservatism was oppressive.
A False Narrative
I faced regular mental and emotional abuse. My ex-husband’s family required me to contribute financially through my salary, while I endured the abuse. I also faced every type of abuse from my ex-husband. It was all about complete control and power over me. Promises were made about security but those were broken. It was a marriage without love. I was also censored and silenced. No one, man or woman, deserves all that.
Living a Lie
I really tried to reason with my oppressors. My inner voice started getting louder and louder. I gave myself permission to object to bad behavior and finally, to protest my treatment.
I had gone to law school, trained as a lawyer and went on to various career roles, where I was given much responsibility and respect.
Yet at home, I was a failure. I was ashamed of myself. You see, I could not let my true self be seen. Not at home. And I blamed myself a lot. I kept thinking that if I could somehow change, that everything would be all better.
However, I was fighting a losing battle because I was losing all of myself. I was battling on the inside. The family did not allow me to be authentic and most of all, they stopped me from being me. They pressured me with fear.
What was worse, I let myself live with an abusive family for 14 and a half years. I had hidden the complete, brutal picture from everyone to the point that even my own children did not witness all of the abuse that happened to me.
I had invested so many years and so much of myself, being married to that family, that when I left, I promised myself that I would never let anyone take the authenticity out of me again. Luckily, in the past many years I managed to reaffirm why we need authenticity in our lives. I surround myself with people who love me and who I can love, without strings attached.
There is a reason why I tell my story and highlight the failures of my past. I really want you to see that it is essential to be authentic and not lie to yourself.
We can waste a big chunk of our lives being loyal to oppressors and abusers. They seem strong, successful even. But the truth is, our inner voices will tell us if we are lying to ourselves.
Be brave and do not be ashamed if you mis-judged people or situations. Otherwise, you might just destroy your inner peace and betray your true self.
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