I want to tell you a story about a purple piece of paper....
My childhood was extremely dysfunctional. At age 13, I was sexually assaulted and that experience immediately began shaping my life. For the next 15 years I lived in a prison created out of my own shame.
In 2003, after the birth of my second child, things got really bad. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering from post-partum depression.
I talked to my husband about it and he realized that he couldn’t help me, so he suggested that I go to counseling. Thankfully, I took his advice. That was the smartest choice I have ever made.
My counselor’s name was LeeAnn. After a few months, I got brave and asked her if she had ever had a secret that was too bad to tell. She thought about it and answered yes. Then she asked me if I had that kind of secret. I answered yes without hesitation. For the first time in my life, I felt ready to face the secret that had been burning inside of me for all those years.
In the next session, LeeAnn handed me a little blank purple piece of paper. She said she understood that I was holding onto a secret that was ready to let go, and that she wanted me to write it out onto the paper and bring it back the following week. I went home and put the paper on my dresser. Every single time I walked into my bedroom, I would catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and remember what she had asked me to do. There was absolutely no doubt about what I wanted to write, but I was so afraid to do it.
That week went by and I returned to counseling with no paper. At the end of that session, LeeAnn asked me if I brought my purple paper. I looked down, felt my chest burning, and whispered, "no". She softly touched my arm and said, “That’s ok. Try again next week”.
Another week went by. The night before my appointment I sat down on my bedroom floor, got the paper and a pen, and wrote down my secret. I remember sitting there afterwards weeping at the shock of seeing my truth that I had always felt too ashamed to say out loud. Then I placed the paper back on the dresser. I didn’t take it to my session the next day, because I was still too ashamed to even pick it up.
LeeAnn asked me again if I brought the purple paper. I told her no, but that I did write on it and that it was sitting on my dresser. “Excellent,” she said gently, “We’ll keep trying”.
This pattern continued for awhile. The moment finally came when I picked up the paper, folded it into a very tiny square, and tucked it into my pocket. I drove to the appointment, sat in the waiting room, and walked into the session with my hand covering my pocket the entire time – carefully protecting my secret. LeeAnn asked again if I brought the purple paper. I proudly told her yes, that I did bring it, and that it was in my pocket. She softly held out her open hand. I looked at her - this woman who I trusted more than I had ever been able to trust anyone in my entire life. I looked down at my hand protecting my pocket and I literally could not move. I wanted to so badly, but I was frozen. I looked back at her feeling sad, ashamed, and unable to even speak. She smiled at me warmly and said, “That’s ok. We’ll keep trying”.
A week later, I was able to take the paper out of my pocket and hold it in my sweaty, shaking hand. The very next session, I gave LeeAnn my purple paper. She held it tenderly in her palm looking at it for a very long time. Then she carefully unfolded it and saw my truth:
Her eyes filled up with tears and she handed it back to me, nodded, and said, “Now, we begin”.
It took a few years until I realized the significance of my purple paper. It was the beginning of everything for me. That was the day that I chose to release myself from my own shame by speaking my truth. Up until that point, I had been in denial about my abuse and trauma. I was not able to look directly at my past and what had happened to me because deep down I believed it was all my fault.
That was 14 years ago now. My journey since then has been a homecoming: owning and processing my trauma, reclaiming all the parts of my true self, and bringing them back home where they belong.
One of my reclaimed parts is a writer. From my earliest memories, I always had a pen and paper in hand eager to write or draw my story. I lost touch with that part for awhile, and had to work hard to re-build trust and safety within myself to get it to come back.
Now, I’m ready to take the risk of sharing my truth with the hope of empowering you to share yours. I’d like to invite you to join me in creating a community of bold truth tellers who are choosing to live in freedom.
The first step is to answer this question:
What truth is written on your purple paper?