In an instant—everything changed.
I was sitting in an audience filled with, “100 of the World’s Most Influential Thought Leaders in Wellness,” when Amber Valetta took the stage. Her first words were, “I’m coming out to you today as an addict.” My hands shook and my heart was pounding so fast that I thought my friend sitting next to me could hear it.
The shameless radical honesty that Amber unleashed on stage that day gave me permission to uncage my own truth: I was addicted to my body image. Only four months before sitting in an audience full of honorary thought leaders in wellness, I had undergone full-body liposuction as plus-size model. I felt like such a fraud.
I’d built a deceptive comfort over two decades of squelching my difficult truths and emotions. I wanted to resist the urge to be as honest as Amber—deeply, radically honest—but the uncaging had already happened. What I’d learned is that truth is like a phoenix, it will rise and resurrect no matter the circumstance.
I thought to myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you were honest about your journey? What if you were brave enough to tell your truth? What if you believed that everyone had a similar story?”
What I understood from Amber’s speech, was that truth allowed you to connect intimately with others and create a life full of deeper of meaning and purpose. I also learned that the truth is human. And it belongs to everyone. Even the people that grew up in families that didn’t practice it.
As Amber finished her speech, she said, “By telling you the truth today, I get another day sober because I’m allowing you to see who I am. I’m not hiding in shame.” I turned to my notebook and scribbled, “I can tell the truth,” and repeated these words under my breath until my friend next to me turned and put her hand on mine.
By telling her truth so bravely, Amber gave me permission to do the same. I knew that if I shared my story, I’d be able to take back the diminishing power it had over me and embrace the person I’d long pretended to be.
This first moment of radical honesty with myself acted as a portal, a pause, and a blank page in my new chapter. I imagined being myself, finally, it it was as if a dam had opened and flooded my insides with compassion and self-acceptance. When I liberated the truth, it liberated me.