Fear Prevents Us from Speaking Our Truth: Reflections During Pregnancy.
I feel a thump. And then another. I look around to see who has poked me, but I am alone. Then I realize — it’s coming from inside me.
My unborn baby is speaking, or rather kicking, her truth. I hear you, little girl.
In preparing for childbirth as a first-time mom, I’ve started reflecting on my life up to this point. Like a movie reel in my head, the scenes jump from flashes of elementary school birthday parties, to high school dances, to Friday nights out at bars, to job interviews, and finally to the here and now. These reflections abound with so many emotions and tears… God, the tears. Thank you, pregnancy hormones.
But in each memory, although many are happy, I realize that I have spent a good chunk of my life not being true to myself. Of course, this is not uncommon. As we grow up, we follow trends we may not believe in, hang out with people we may know aren’t our people, stay in relationships or jobs we may know aren’t fulfilling. But this wasn’t always the case.
We were all babies once. And these little balls of stardust speak their truth, unabashedly. They cry for a myriad reasons, most often when they are unhappy in some way. And these cries are to facilitate change, a bettering of their current situation. And yet, somehow, we as adults have lost this ability to cry out when we are unhappy.
We have lost the ability to say what we need or how we feel, and then to follow through. And it’s no secret why: it’s that ever-so-present culprit, Fear, sitting in his dark corner with a smirk, twisting his mustache and rubbing his hands together, plotting our paralysis.
It is fear that prevents us from speaking our truth. Relationships could end, feelings could get hurt, environments could change, the list goes on and on. But deep down, we know we would be better for it.
I come from a strong family who taught me the value of self-love, and always encouraged me to be the best version of me. But, somehow, along the way, I lost that ability and I let fear creep in. I grew into a pretty passive, compliant, and even malleable person, who really just wanted others to like me, even at the cost of losing myself.
Example A: my 20s. I started hanging out with a group of fair-weather friends. We would go out on the weekends, plan ski trips, rent beach houses. We had some good times, but most of the time was spent making fun of each other, and even worse, other people. At first it was fun; I was part of a group.
Growing up in the 90s with only one real best friend who moved away and bouncing around in different social circles, I craved that 90210 group-love thing. I wanted to be part of a gang. And I was. But then it started to wear on me. I increasingly felt bad about myself whenever I was around them, and guilty about the slandering of others purely for their entertainment.
There was a certain inequity in the group curated by a ringleader. She ran the show and you did not want to cross her. It was difficult for me, but I finally broke away from them. I knew that for me, they were toxic, and I needed to get out. I made myself busy and scarce. A few reached out to me, and I refused to meet.
At the time I was just strong enough to slink away; I couldn’t bear to see them face to face, the inevitable barrage of accusations and insults waiting in the wings. There it was again: fear. Fear of them not liking me anymore, even though I had rapidly lost respect for them, kept me in their grasp for so long.
Example B: my first marriage. Out of respect for this man and his family, I will only say that he was a wonderful person who treated me with nothing but kindness and respect. We were set up by his sister, my co-worker, and we dated for four years. In truth, it was my first real, grown-up, long-term relationship, and I was blindly stumbling through most of our time together.
He asked me to move in with him, and I did. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes. If I had truly listened to my gut, we probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a few dates. For me, it was always the passion that was missing. It was comfortable, right from the start, not after the honeymoon period ended as is the case in most romantic relationships. And comfort, in this case, was not enough.
But he was so great, and everyone else loved him, so why shouldn’t I? And if I left him, would I ever find someone who loved me that much? Again, fear reared its ugly head for some time, and it was this fear that kept me in the relationship far longer than was right… for both of us.
Now I’m 35, married again, and expecting. It’s been a long road, but I’ve found a way to speak my truth, or at least try to, every day. I left the comfort of my family and friends and moved down the coast for love. I left a solid career that made me unhappy for one that’s not so solid, but inspires me daily. I have shouldered the weight of expectations from loved ones, but not to the detriment of my own expectations.
I spend my time with people who lift me up, not put me down. And I continue to fight for what is important to me, vowing never to lose sight of myself again. I still battle fear, but I have found the courage to ask what it is I need and want and to not shrink away from the answer, no matter how impossible it may seem.
And as I sit, gently rubbing my ever-expanding belly, I think of this tiny miracle already testing her boundaries — blindly, faithfully, and fearlessly. And for those brave souls who strive to speak and live their truths daily, thank you. Thank you for inspiring others like myself to peel off the warm security blanket of mediocrity and expose ourselves to the sometimes harsh cold of the unknown.
It is in this space that we can better find ourselves.
Lisa Palumbo is a high school English teacher and Yoga instructor. Hailing from Rhode Island, she is a self-proclaimed mermaid, and can be found in Newport during the summer months enjoying the ocean with family and friends. Lisa loves to read, write, dance, and practice Yoga. She currently lives in Baltimore with her husband, Ryan, and dog, Mr. Porter.